Palermo Attractions

The Palermo attractions are many, and range from the rather macabre but fascinating mummies in the Capuchin Catacombs to the beautiful Teatro (Theater) Massimo. The theater is the largest in Italy. It is third in size in all of Europe after the National Opera House in Paris, France and the Staatsoper (State Opera) in Vienna, Austria.

Numerous sacred sites in Palermo Italy include the city’s impressive twelfth-century Duomo (Cathedral), the Arab-Norman San Giovanni Degli Eremiti (St. John of the Hermits) Church, and the elegant Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio (St. Mary of the Admiral) with its famed twelfth-century mosaics that rival those in the Byzantine and early Christian churches of Ravenna that are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

The architecture of several of the sacred sites in Palermo Italy reveals the history of Arab (ninth and tenth centuries) and Norman conquests (eleventh and twelfth centuries). The most notable of these is San Giovanni Degli Eremiti, which is one of the finest examples. Not far from this church is the Capella Palatina (Paletine Chapel) located inside the ninth-century Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans). The palace is the most visited of all attractions in Palermo and is quite exceptional. Its chapel is splendid, with extraordinary Byzantine mosaics. You have to travel to Ravenna or Istanbul in Turkey to see finer examples of this art form. The palace was built for Arab emirs, and originally contained an extensive harem. The Normans took over in 1140 and created the chapel you see today.

Other attractions in Palermo revolve around food, although this will also give you tastes of history. While dining in the city, you are apt to find fried rice balls stuffed with meat, rich stews of eggplant and olive oil, sweets dripping with honey, and couscous with raisins and pine nuts—all Arabic inspired. In fact, it was the introduction of hard durum wheat (used to make couscous) by the Arab occupiers that made today’s Italian pasta possible. It certainly pays to seek out the Middle Eastern restaurants in this most cosmopolitan city in Sicily.

As the most cosmopolitan city in Sicily, you will also find shopping galore, including exclusive boutiques with high fashions from Milan, the haute couture capital of the world. Shopping is one of the Palermo attractions even for Sicilians. Here you will find the most colorful markets in southern Italy with fresh fish and produce that is excellent if you’ve decided vacation rentals with kitchen facilities are better than one of the many Palermo hotels. Coral jewelry, embroidered fabrics, and ceramics are specialties of this area.

Attractions in Palermo also include the sea. The city is a main port for Italy cruises, and the bustling harbor has much to offer. Ferries arrive here from Naples, Genoa, Civitavecchi (the port for Rome), Salerno, and Cagliari. There are resort beaches on either side of the city. The best one is located near the city is in the suburb of Mondello. Mondello beach is considered “Palermo’s Beach,” and this one of the Palermo attractions stretches for more than a mile with wide sandy area.

Whether you have come to see the sacred sites in Palermo Italy or sample its more secular pleasures, you will find plenty of things to do and see in this exciting city.

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