Ciao Italian style lovers,
if you are really a lover of our beautiful country, a destination that cannot be missed in your travel wish list is definitely Palermo! Destination town of the “grand tour” of young European aristocrats in the 18th century, it blomed in its maximum splendor between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, during the Belle Époque! Does it purely seem a summer destination and only suitable for July and August sunshine? Nothing could be more wrong, because the town known as “La felicissima” gives its best in the months of September and October when in Sicily it is still in fact “summer” but temperatures are milder and this will allow you to quietly walk around for what it’s considered to be the largest historic center in Europe!
It would be impossible to list its immense cultural heritage, I have visited Palermo dozens of times and I always discover new hidden treasures! What I would like to give you here is a list, definitely not exhaustive, of some of my favorite places! I recommend to check all opening hours before going anywhere and to check if in some cases you need to book your visit in advance!
The tour starts with the Palazzo Valguarnera-Ganci in piazza Croce dei Vespri, in whose magnificent hall the famous scene of the Gattopardo dance by Luchino Visconti was shot! As it often happens in this sunny but at the same time “hidden” city, from the outside it may look like a normal building but as soon as you cross the door a world will appear that will reveal wonders worthy of the most beautiful royal palaces in Europe!
In a small alley of old Palermo, via Bandiera, you will find the Palazzo Alliata di Pietratagliata; the hostess, the princess Signoretta Alliata Licata di Baucina will lead you with great competence and sympathy through the fabulous rooms of the ancestral home!
A hidden gem, more secluded than the common tourist routes but absolutely worth a visit is the interior of the eclectic Villa Malfitano, former home of the Anglo-Sicilian Whitaker family of entrepreneurs!
Unfortunately, very little remains of the patrimony of the other “royal family” of Palermo, the Florio, you can visit a part of the Villino Florio all’Olivella, built in full Liberty style but which most of the interiors were destroyed in a fire, and 15 minutes from Palerno, Villa Florio all’Arenella, called “dei quattro pizzi” because of the four Torrette!
Count Federico and his family, descendants of Federico ll di Svevia, will welcome you to the homonymous family home, Palazzo Conte Federico, one of the oldest in Palermo!
Let’s close what would be an endless roundup with the Mirto Palace in Piazza Marina and with the famous Casa Professa, the Martorana Church, the oratory of San Domenico and the convent of Santa Caterina d’Alessandria! Right inside the latter there is a treat for gourmands “I segreti del Chiostro”, an artisan pastry that offers specialties made according to ancient convent recipes!
Are you also a fashion-lover and after so much culture do you want to go shopping? Via Ruggero Settimo, via Libertà and the surrounding streets are definitely for you! I recommend ‘Giglio boutique’ for high fashion (it has several stores in the city, the “woman” one is located in Piazza Croci), ‘Euphoria ‘ for a chic in a Palermo style and Torregrossa and Ardizzone all in via Libertà, as well as the “international Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada! In via Torrearsa take a look at “Casa e Putia” and “Tacco 12”!
Do you want to take a refreshing break in a café? In Palermo you are spoiled for choice, here are some names: Antico Caffè Spinnato with two spots, one in via Principe di Belmonte; in my opinion it makes the best buccellato (typical Sicilian dessert) in town; Oscar bar, Bar Cappello and Pasticceria Costa, in via Maqueda at the unmissable “Quattro Canti”! However, to me the best option is to wander through the alleys and taste what inspires you most!
In the evening you can try Osteria dei Vespri, in Piazza Croce dei Vespri or take a trip to Piazza Marina and Via dei Cassari, it is full of cute and trendy clubs like Aja Mola and Gagini! If you prefer traditional Palermo cuisine, try Osteria Mangia e Bevi or Osteria Ballaró, also in the center, while for pizza go to Piazza Magione at “Ciccio passami l’Olio”!
If you want to take home some souvenirs and memories of facades and churches that are sometimes ruined but beautiful, walk along the pedestrian streets via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele; here you will find “souvenir San Giuseppe” (next to the church of the same name) which served as a location for famous video of “Dolce & Gabbana !
In the same street a gem for bibliophiles: the “library of the course” looks like a normal clothing store from the window, in reality in the “back shop” there is an antiques bookshop as well as a selection small but interesting selection of books on “Sicily” and “Palermo”!
P.S. If you have the opportunity to stay one more day, don’t miss a visit to the extraordinary Catacombs of the Capuccini (they really worth it a visit, there is nothing like it in the world!) ans to the Vucciria and Ballaró markets which, even if they are not even remotely like in the past, they can give a little idea of how they must have been in the past years!
If you want to walk a little longer, reach the cove where you will have a splendid view of the port of Palermo!
Deeply Sicilian but with a love for traveling and Anglo-Saxon and Northern European culture, she grew up since she was a child in bread, fashion and lifestyle, having always had her family shops in the sector!
A couple of years ago she started publishing her “fashion diaries” on Instagram under the nickname @granola_lane! She loves to define her eclectic style, alternating British influences with Scandinavian minimalism and the avant-gard of the Antwerp school, all seasoned in an Italian sauce and enriched by a love for color and a pinch of inspiration and her own originality!
With a passion for Italian and Sicilian historical books, she loves biographies and over the years she became, self taught, an expert in the history and genealogies of the royal and noble families of Europe and Italy!