What to do, eat and see in the Sicilian capital
There’s a new energy taking over Palermo. The capital of Sicily has long been a treasure trove of Baroque churches and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but over the past few years, it’s also reinvented itself, creating an old-meets-new mix that makes it very exciting to visit. From cool restaurants to beautiful museums, here’s all you need to know before you go.
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A first timer to Palermo shouldn’t miss the classics, of course, starting with the breath-taking Cappella Palatina on the middle level of Palazzo dei Normanni’s three-tiered loggia – a masterpiece of glittering gold mosaics and marble floors and the perfect example of Sicily’s cultural complexity with its mix of Arabic, Byzantine Greek and Norman styles. The richly decorated Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, also known as La Martorana, should be next on the list, followed by the enchanting Monastero di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria, which hides I Segreti del Chiostro (one of Palermo’s best pasticcerie) next to its magnificent cloister.
After something a little more elevated? Try Gagini, Palermo’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, housed in the former studio of Sicilian Renaissance sculptor Antonello Gagini. Or head to La Drogheria del Buongusto, a tiny but mighty upscale deli and an aperitivo bar with a great wine selection.
Lastly – but very important – don’t forget to get your cannoli fix at the abovementioned I Segreti del Chiostro in the Monastero di Santa Caterina. It’s a pasticceria that recreates once secret recipes from Sicilian convents, and its sweet treats alone are worth the trip to Palermo.