Weekend Breaks to Palermo
Planning a short break to Palermo? Check out Travel Library's recommended Top 10 Things To Do in Palermo. It's a perfect companion for weekend city breaks to Palermo. Once you've been you can add your own tips and suggestions to help other visitors.
Top 10 Things in Palermo on a Short Break
Piazza Cappuccini 1, Palermo. The catacombs are located under the Capuchins Monastery and are a maze of dank and to some extent spooky corridors, filled with mummified corpses. About 350 years ago it was discovered that the catacombs held a strange stabilizer that helped to preserve the dead. After this discovery Sicilians from nobles to maids insisted on being buried here. There are about 8,000 mummified remains buried here, the oldest corpses are from the late 16th century and the last buried in 1920 is a two year old little girl. Some of the mummified bodies are scary if not creepy, as they have body parts missing, such as jaws or hands. Definitely not for the feint of heart or for smaller children, but interesting if you are curious about things leaning to the bizarre. Tours to the catacombs are from Mon Fri 9am noon and 1 5 pm but closed on holidays. Admission fees are $2.
Here you will find long sandy beaches and the best place to be on a summer day, especially if you want to escape Palermos smog. Here the visitor will find many Sicilian families walking along the water and when the children are hungry nip into one of the pizzeria for a bite to eat.
This is the one museum that children will love. The puppets, which Sicilians call pupi, are famous and are a true work of folklore art. On Fridays between 5 and 6pm puppet shows are staged at the museum and are enchanting. Definitely not to be missed, if you can time your visit to coincide with a show. There are also shows held at the Opera dei Pupi, Via Bara allOlivella 52: (bus 101 or 122) and tickets cost between $6 and $8. The shows are staged daily from 6 to 7pm from Sept June only.
Via Alloro 27, Palermo. The church was built in 1485 and is dedicated to Santa Maria degli Angeli. During the late Middle Ages the Franciscans had their community here. The church is located right next to the Regional Gallery and both can be easily visited on the same day. The exterior of the church has a Gothic entrance and on the arch there is a bas-relief. The nave has no aisles but has 16 chapels on the sides and a marble floor in different colours. The organ made by Raffaele della Valle dates back to the late 1500s and is the oldest in Palermo; the pulpit is made of marble. The Yellow Line (Linea Gialla) bus will take you to the church. The church is open Mon-Sat 9am 5pm and admission is free.
Via Principe di Belmonte 115, Palermo. The cafe and pastry-maker was established in 1860 and is smart and sumptuous. It is set in a quiet pedestrian-only street and is very popular with the locals. Here you will be tempted by a vast array of pastries and cookies which are absolutely delicious, that is, of course, when you are able to make up your mind, what to choose. There are also small tables both inside and out where you can enjoy a meal of fresh salad and grills or delicious pastas like spaghetti with sea urchins. At night there is live music, usually in the form of a piano to entertain the evening crowds. The cafe is open Daily from 7am 1am, and taking bus 101, 104, 107 or 806 will get you there.
Via Alloro 4, Palermo. The Regional Gallery is the greatest in Sicily for regional art. The gallery is located on the Palazzo Abatellis (built in 1490) which was badly damaged during World War II. Carlo Scarpa an architect restored the palazzo in 1954. The gallery has a wonderful collection of Sicilian sculpture and paintings from the 13th to the 18th centuries. The main floor has most of the sculptures on display and as you wander through the former chapel you will see the gallerys most famous work, dating from 1449, the Triumph of the Death, which has sometimes been credited to Pisanello. There are also Arabic ceramics and the white-marble bust of Eleanara di Aragona by Francesco Laurana, his masterpiece, which he created in the 15th century. There are plenty of beautiful works in the gallery which will enthral the avid art lover. The gallery is open from Mon Sat 9am 1pm; Tues and Thurs 3 7.30pm; Sun 9am 1pm. Admission is $5.50 and bus 103, 105 or 139 will get you to the gallery.
Via Dante 167, Palermo. This Villa built in 1886, in the Liberty style, is one of Palermos great villa palaces. The villa has a superb garden and Joseph Whittaker, who built the villa, had trees brought in from all over the world. There are trees such as the rare Dragons Blood tree, a huge banyan tree and many more. George Patton stayed at the villa, during World War II, for a short period, when he was planning the invasion of southern Italy. The villa itself is generously furnished with artefacts and antiques from around the world. The visitor will especially be enthralled by the Sala dEstate (Summer Room) which has trompe loeill wall paintings covering both the walls and ceiling. The villa is open Mon Sat 9am 1pm and admission is $3 and by taking bus 103, 106, 108, 122, 134, 164 or 824 will get you to the villa.
The name in Arabic means pure, however this is the last word that could describe this district, which is colourful but seedy. This section of Palermo is left over from the Middle Ages and despite its decay, wartime destruction and poverty is probably the most intriguing area of the city. The Quartiere della Kalsa is the medieval core of Old Palermo and is located in the south-western part of the old city. It was built and planned by Arab rulers as a walled city. A good place to start your exploration is at the church of Santa Teresa alla Kalsa which opens onto the centre square and then work your way around the area. There is plenty to see and investigate in the old quarter. However, it is best to explore during the day and not alone as the La Kalsa is dangerous as well as fascinating. Should you wish to see the area at night it is better to take a taxi to your destination and never go down any of the dark streets that appear empty, unfortunately there are plenty of muggers on the look out for the unwary tourist.
This marvellous fountain can be found in the heart of Palermos loveliest square, the Piazzo Pretoria. The fountain was built during 1554 and 1555 by a Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani and overlooks St. Caterina and St Guiseppe dei Teatini the two churches on the square. The fountain is full of sculptures showing fables, animal heads, monsters, nymphs and water. There are ornamental staircases, balconies and so much more depicted on the fountain, that to truly appreciate its beauty, it is a sight that must seen. The fountain can be seen at all times because it is floodlit at night.
Villa Bonanno is situated behind the Palazzo dei Normanni and is one of the most beautiful public gardens in Palermo. In 1905 the city planted palm trees in the garden, which has given it the look of a North African oasis. You can enter the gardens from the Piazza della Vittoria and as you walk around take note of the roof which covers the ruins of three ancient Roman houses; these are the only artefacts of its kind left in Palermo. This park joins the Piazza del Parlamento which has a huge statue of Philip V of the House of Bourbon.
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