Yesterday was my first day back in Palermo after months. Like every time I’m back, I felt like a tourist exploring the city for the first time – except I know every inch of it by heart. I thought I’d put together some thoughts, tips and pictures to show you how to spend your first few hours in Palermo like a boss!
After a breakfast with some delicious mum-made buccellati and coffee (always the best!), my mum and I went out for a walk and last-minute Christmas shopping in the city centre. It was sunny, and beautiful, and crowded like hell!
After braving the traffic, parking far away from the centre and waiting for the bus number 101 for about 20 minutes (pretty standard), we arrived at Piazza Politeama (Piazza Castelnuovo, to be exact, but the people of Palermo like to rename everything…) and made our way to the majestic Christmas-decorated Teatro Massimo.
You’ll probably remember the theatre from the final scenes of The Godfather Part III, though I really hope this won’t be the only reason why you’ll want to see it. This stunning opera house, built in 1897, is the biggest in Italy and the third biggest in Europe. If you ever come to Palermo, it’s definitely a must see – you can book a guided tour or go and see an opera (which I would strongly recommend).
After staring at this beaty for a few minutes, we ventured the side streets between Piazza Verdi and Via Roma…
…and made our way to the Vucciria market through Piazza San Domenico.
My mum confessed she hadn’t been to the market since she was a little girl, so it was quite a powerful moment… Here she is, travelling back in time and looking around like a child in a candy store.
La Vucciria is one of the historical food markets in Palermo, together with Ballarò and il Capo. Its name means ‘hubbub’ or ‘noisy mess’, because vendors used to yell out loud to sell their products, and still do. The market used to be double the size back in the day where my mum used to go with her father, but it’s now shrinking down and turning more and more into a night meeting place for youngsters.
Here’s an out-of-focus myself enjoying a pizzetta from a local bakery.
After a quick walk through the market we turned into Corso Vittorio Emanuele and walked all the way down to Foro Italico Umberto I, a huge park by the sea. This place would be amazing – with all its palm trees and stunning view – if it wasn’t for the very bad maintanance and vandalism. But, hey, get used to this if you ever come to Sicily.
On our way back home, we stopped at Bar Rosanero, where we had a lovely coffee and cannoli, which I forgot to take a picture of because they suddenly fell into my mouth… oops! But here’s a picture of their pezzi di rosticceria. Mouth-watering…
That’s it for my first day. Here’s what my little walk looks like on a map – feel free to follow this route or expand on this, if you have more than a few hours to visit Palermo.
In my next post I’m going to talk about Palermo’s night life. Stay tuned and follow @secret_sicily on Instagram for real time updates from the land of arancine!