Palermo: A locals guide

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By Ffion Williams Third year French and Italian

Ffion Williams provides a comprehensive guide to the southern Italian city of Palermo.

Since I’ve just hit the three-month mark in Palermo, I thought it might be nice to share some tips on where’s best to visit. This has been massively helped by working in the Tourism & Hospitality Industry, as I’m asked for recommendations day in, day out. Whether you’re visiting on holiday on planning on moving here for your year abroad, this city is full of things to do, and there is always something interesting going on!

Culture & history
Rooftops of Palermo Cathedral: This was one of the first cultural things I did. The views from the roofs of the Cathedral are breathtaking; you can catch a glimpse of the sea as well as seeing the whole city beneath you.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina: An unassuming church tucked away just off from Quattro Canti, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s nothing much to see inside. However, once you step in you are be blown away by the detail of the frescoes which adorn the ceiling and the beautiful inlaid marble which covers the walls.

Puppet Museum: The Museo internazionale delle marionette Antonio Pasqualino has a wonderful display of traditional Sicilian puppets and also has a collection of puppets from all over the world! Some are slightly creepy, but it’s well worth the visit to see all the craftsmanship that goes into each puppet.

Teatro Massimo: As it is the third largest Opera House in Europe, a tour of Teatro Massimo is a must. The tour includes a visit to the Royal box and the Whisper Chamber, both of which are fascinating and wonderfully decorated.

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Image: Ffion Williams

Bars & nightlife
Ferramenta: An upscale wine bar set in a converted iron-works. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but they do have a sommelier on hand to give fancy wine recommendations.

Bar Garibaldi: This bar is perfect for having a beer with friends, as the prices are reasonable and there are lots of interesting rooms and seating options.
Colletti: Colletti is a cocktail bar which serves delicious drinks in a cool setting with great music.

Piazza Sant’anna: This square is surrounded by bars and is the place that people gather to dance on a Friday and Saturday night.

Vucciria: Once the best market in Palermo, this street is now best to visit at night for street food, music and cheap drinks all year round.

A’cala: If you’re looking for stunning views of the sea while you sip your drink, then A’cala is your bar. They also serve coffees during the day, so this is the ideal bar if you’re near the port.

Cafes & restaurants
Cioccolateria Lorenzo: Easily my favourite cafe in Palermo, this is the best breakfast/ lunch spot around. They serve fresh panini and homemade cakes, and their selection of teas including English Breakfast and Earl Grey which makes me feel very much at home.

Frida Pizza: Frida pizza has something of a cult following in Palermo; it’s a pizza house inspired by the artist Frida Kahlo, and even has pizzas named after her and a menu with her face on the front of it. Although you are likely to experience fairly long waits (this is Sicily after all) the pizza really is worth it.

Pizza Arte e Tradizione: This pizza place serves delicious pizza at low prices. It’s fuss-free but really tasty, and they have a huge selection of pizzas, so you’re guaranteed to find one you fancy.

Rosanero: Rosanero (named after the Palermitan football colours) is a cute little spot for breakfast, lunch and ice creams. The prices are fantastic and they make your panino fresh to order right in front of your eyes; basically it’s the Palermitan version of Subway (and it’s a million times better for you).

Panineria Chiluzzo: Chiluzzo is a small stall which gets completely mobbed by people every lunch time. Panini cost around 1.50 euro and are made fresh to order. This is the spot to try a panino panelle e crocchè, which is a panino filled with potato croquettes and chickpea fritters. It’s like the British chip butty, and it’s perfect with a Sicilian lemonade.

Moltivolti: Moltivolti is found in Ballarò and serves both Sicilian food and other dishes from around the globe. They pride themselves on being a melting pot of different cultures and are inspired by many different types of cuisine. They also have a coworking space and an events space in order to create a community spirit in their restaurant.

So, from visiting a beautiful Church to eating lunch in a pizzeria inspired by Frida Kahlo, there are so many ways to enjoy your time in this incredible city, and I still have so much more to discover!

Featured image: Ffion Williams


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