Palermo is a city full of vibrant history and a million things to do, from the underground convent of Santa Rosalia to the abbey of San Martino where to this day monks restore old books and produce their own craft beer. The possibilities are endless in this coastal city, but if you’ve only got 24 hours you’ll may not want to spend your time in a car or on a bus. To help you see as much as you can in as short a period as possible, we’ve created an itinerary that highlights all the best spots for a day in Palermo.
To start the day off, head over to the old town. Here you’ll be able to see the mixture of Arabic, Greek and Latin influences that have been present in Palermo over the years. This mixture of cultures can be found everywhere in the city, from the food to the different languages of writing that’s on the churches. There is a notably strong Arabic presence in the city which is from when Palermo was under Arab rule for 120 years after they took control in 904. One really interesting example of Arabic and Italian culture colliding is the Church of San Cataldo which is a Catholic Church that has red domes on top, similar to those of a mosque.
While you’re in the old city, make sure you walk over to the traditional outdoor markets. These are where the locals buy there groceries, like in days past, so you’ll be getting a good sense of day to day life in Palermo. The biggest but most crowded is Ballarò market, but there are other smaller ones like Il Capo and La Vucciria if you prefer a more lowkey shopping experience. They’re all within about a 15 minute walk from each other so if you’re feeling ambitious, why not visit them all?
Since you’re going to be surrounded by some of the most amazing food in Palermo city, the markets are a great spot to stop and eat. You probably won’t need much convincing from me to give the food a try because the incredible smells will already have taken over. Some notable dishes to keep an eye out for are Panelle and sfincione which both originated in Sicily. Food is an extremely important (and tasty!) part of Palermo culture so whatever you try you’ll enjoy it.
Next up on the itinerary is Teatro Massimo which is within walking distance of all three of the markets so you don’t have far to go. This beautiful building is home to the third biggest theatre in Europe. If you’re interested in seeing a show during the evening you can see whats playing here (http://www.teatromassimo.it/eng/whats-on/). If you’re not super interested in seeing a performance, there’s a ton of history and architecture that’s just as impressive outside. You’ll find something to see just wandering around the small streets in front of the theatre because they’re full of atmosphere and tradition.
Next, make your way over to the old neighbourhood of Vucciria which was founded over 1000 years ago. At night, this little historic area comes to life. This market isn’t as glamorous as some of the others you’ll find in the city but it’s spirit and soul make up for it. As one of our Lokafyers said, “here, with its light blue tavern and restaurants, you will eat well and be able to take in the beauty and decadence of the old Spanish places that reflect a city perpetually suspended between past and future”.
After dinner, if you’ve still got a little bit of energy left in you, head down to Porto Place (the port). The breathtaking view of Tyrrhenian Sea is definitely worth it. Before Palermo became Palermo, it was called Pan-ormus which means “Port Everywhere”. The proximity to the sea allowed for Palermo to become the beautiful blend of cultures that it is today. There’s also a really cool mural of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino, who were murdered by the Sicilian mafia, between Piazza Marina and the boats.
Hopefully you enjoy this 24 hour itinerary of Palermo city and you’ll stick around and enjoy more of the sites that Sicily has to offer!