Palermo is a metropolitan cosmopolitan city. It is really quite a big city, as far as cities go in Sicily and should be a destination of interest for the traveler. It has a unique contrast of ancient and modern day city buildings and monuments throughout.
Restaurants in Palermo
As Sicily’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Palermo offers great dining as well as great shopping opportunities. Though there are really good restaurants throughout Palermo, they are not very easy to find.
In general, we would suggest that you try the ones on the side streets instead of the ones near Via Amari and via Cavour which might be described as “tourist restaurants”.
The best restaurants and bars in Palermo include Antica Focacceria, Il Bagatto, Piazza Marina, La Cambusa Trattoria, Genio Trattoria, and Il Goliardo Trattoria-Pizzeria.
For the tourist, it might be good to note that the Piazza Olivella, hidden from the eyes of the casual tourists walking the main streets, is one of Palermo’s most popular spots. It’s the square near the archeological museum and San Filippo Neri church in a rectangle formed by via Cavour, via Roma and via Maqueda near the Teatro Massimo. About thirty dining places, including bars, are located in the square itself and also along via Orologio, via Bara and all’Olivella and the surrounding streets.
Cin-Cin is an elegant restaurant and one of Palermo’s culinary treasures, routinely ranked by critics as one of the city’s favorite dining spots. Cin-Cin’s cuisine is a highly-evolved yet traditional Sicilian cooking. If you want to find refined Sicilian cuisine you’re ready for an enchanting dinner at Cin-Cin, whose essential menu features grilled appetizers, superb main courses of beef, seafood and pasta dishes. The setting is serene: Cin-Cin occupies a number of rooms that allow an intimate ambience; a pleasant environment to enjoy a great meal.
Throughout Palermo there are excellent pastry shops and bars that serve ice cream, pastries, and sandwiches. If you want to sample these tempting delights in a leisurely setting, we suggest the charming outdoor cafes on Via Principe di Belmonte. Located in the best shopping district, Via Belmonte is closed to traffic.
Shopping at Palermo
The city doesn’t just offer great cuisine and fascinating history. Palermo also has some great shopping facilities and many better shops are conveniently located in the city’s centre around via Maqueda and via Liberta, especially on the side streets where you’ll find shops that sell everything from antiques to Sicilian-made specialty goods like crafts, ceramics and jewelry.
Famous sights at Palermo
Beyond this are the many landmarks, monuments and buildings to visit in Palermo. The Cathedral, Chinese Villa, Magione Church, Martorana Church, Mount Pellegrino, Politeama Theatre, Quattro Canti, Royal Palace, St Francis Church, St. John of the Hermits, Teatro Massimo, and Zisa are some of the many sights. As well, Mondello is a beautiful beach that can be visited during the day or night. It is not only a beach, but also a tourist and vacation spot as there are many shops and restaurants along its boardwalk. During the day it’s a lovely place to go for a swim or just to take a walk, and at night its beautiful lights along the water are dazzling.
Via Liberta Quarter
Via Liberta Quarter is a great area to visit. This area has a variety of landmarks and sights including Mount Pellegrino, Saint Rosalie’s Shrine, Chinese Villa, Favorita Park, Villa Trabia, and Ficuzza. It is also the area where Mondello beach is located, so be sure to make a trip there.
Mount Pellegrino offers amazing panoramic views of Palermo but it is most famous for the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalie, located near the summit along winding roads that travel through woods of Mediterranean stone pines. The Chinese villa, which is also located in this area, is a beautiful ancient home built in the Oriental style. The Chinese villa is located in the Favorita Royal Park and the nearby Pitre Folk Museum is open to the public. Favorita Park or the Royal Park is a vast wooded area, and rabbits and migratory birds are seen here occasionally. The Park is owned by the City of Palermo, and is an attractive entrance to Mondello Beach.
The Vatican City, is actually one of the smallest cities unto itself and is the smallest independent nation in the world. It is the official home of the Pope of the Roman Catholic church and yearly it attracts millions of people and for many different reasons.
Every twenty five years it is said that to pass through the gates of the Vatican is to be forgiven for all of your sins, and all those of your loved ones forever. The year 2000 was the last occurrence of this event. So be sure to visit again in 2025. Some people visit to get a glimpse of this historical site that is the pinnacle of the Roman Catholic religion, others to see the Pope himself and yet others to view the amazing architectural design and construction of the church and the amazing sculpture and art inside.
The entrance to the Vatican is quite masterful, and grand. There is a great circular open space that is surrounded by great roman pillars that are so perfectly designed that if you stand in front of one you can not see the ones behind it, as they are so perfectly aligned. This is not only a very powerful design but also this was created without the use of modern day equipment to make the approximate measurements that were needed to make the columns so perfectly aligned in this way.
Another fascinating fact is that the Vatican City actually has its own postage stamps and issues its own coins. It is actually even declared a separate region from Italy, basically its own country and so therefore has its own postage stamps and coins. Image this tiny region with its own postage stamps and coins is actually mainly one grand building, a church and the home of the Pope. The Vatican City has its own post office, commissary or supermarket, bank, the automatic teller machines ones in the world to use Latin, and railway station.
The view of St. Peter’s Square from the top of Michelangelo’s dome is a completely unobstructed view of the Vatican City. However the view of St. Peter’s square in the early morning is exquisite. The lights surrounding and shinning on the building are just breath takingly beautiful.
The Vatican City is itself of great cultural and artistic significance. The buildings within its boundaries such as St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine chapel are home to some of the most beautiful art in the world, which includes works by artists such as Botticelli, Bernini, and Michelangelo. The Vatican library and the collections of the Vatican Museums are of the highest historical, scientific and cultural importance in the world.
The art which is most famous in the Vatican City are the paintings created by Michelangelo. Michelangelo created two of the most influential fresco paintings in the history of Western art, on the ceiling and on the altar wall of the Sistine Chapel, called the Last Judgment. Later in life he designed the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Entering St. Peter’s Basilica, ensure that your upper body is fully covered, and that includes your shoulders. It is not permitted for people to enter the Basilica without their shoulders covered as respect to the holy place, so make sure that when you visit you are wearing something with sleeves. As you enter the building, there are usually many people in line with you waiting to enter.
Your first glimpse of the inside of the great doors is the art and architectural design, the beautiful dome ceiling covered in painting and stain glass, and the golden alter. This church really represents the head of the Catholic Church as it is so beautifully and masterfully designed and decorated, by the most highly talented artists in history. You will not be disappointed by the amazing creation of the Vatican City.
At the travel office at our hotel in Venice, we were advised to spend a day visiting the twin islands Murano and Burano. Their amazing surroundings and the atmosphere are so similar to Venice’s, that we won’t even realize we left the city. The islands are also well known for their industries. Murano is famous for the murano glass blowing industry, while Burano is famous for its lacework.
Both of the islands lie north of Venice. Murano lies about 2 miles north of the city and comprises five little islands clustered together, while Burano lies near Torcello. We took a vaporetto from Piazalle Roma to get to the islands.
Glassmaking first existed as industry in Venice and by the 10th century was widespread in the city, becoming the city’s foremost industry by 1200. But after 1217, the city leaders required the furnaces to be moved to Murano in order to protect Venice from fire. Also they passed a lot to forbid the import of glass and entry of foreign glass in the city. These moves gave Venice the monopoly in the glass industry over Europe. Around the 17th century, the popularity of the Murano glass began to decline but a businessman named Antonio Salviati, started selling the glass outside Venice, hence boosting the industry as well as tourism.
The glassworkers were allowed to wear swords and enjoyed immunity from prosecution by the Venice state, while the glassworkers’ daughters were allowed to marry into Venice’s blue-blooded families. But on the other hand, the glassmakers weren’t allowed to leave Venice. The reason was very simple: they were the only craftsmen in Europe who knew how to make mirrors and who developed refined technologies for producing glass (smalto – enameled glass, aventurine- glass with threads of gold, millefiori – multicolored glass- and lattimo – milk glass)
We also found out that the glass was made to be functional, not decorative but the pieces always came out more beautiful than planned. They are indeed a work of art and usually are displayed rather than used. Today they produce jewelry and other decorative objects as well (paperweights, figurines, vases and tableware), all bearing a very high price tag and considered luxury items all over the world.
We found all that information at the Glass Museum (Museo Vetrario), located in the Palazzo Giustinian, right near the island’s center. Also many glassworks can be visited and most of them date from the medieval times.
While on the island we also visited the Church of Santa Maria e San Donato, which is known for its twelfth century Byzantine mosaic pavement. Also legend has it that it houses the bones of a dragon slain by Saint Donatus.
On Burano, we first went to the Lace Museum . We found out that needlepoint lace was born in Venice in the 15th century. It actually derives from embroidery and is inspired by the stitches that create transparency in the design (in Italian, punto tagliato).
The industry became so popular that a School of Lace was founded in 1872. Later on the lace lost its popularity and the school had to close. Now the building houses the Lace Museum. Within the museum we admired all the laces produced over the centuries, as well as drawings, personal journals, photographs and work techniques.
Burano is also known for its colored houses, very famous among artists. We were told that if someone wants to paint the house, the owner must send a request to the government and they’ll respond which colors are allowed in the lot.
While on the island we also visited the Oratorio Santa Barbara and the Church of San Martino.
Ever since I’ve read Shakespeare’s “Rome and Juliet” (and later seen the movie) I’ve dreamt of visiting “fair Verona”, the Italian city home to the world’s most famous lovers. Even though Shakespeare had never been to Italy, the tragic story of two lovers from Verona was well known and written before Shakespeare.
With my girlfriend Natalya, this was sort of a great honeymoon destination. Altough it was hot as hell (as one can imagine in summer) the experience was amazing and every corner of a picturesque street made me feel like I was there when the action in the play took place.
Fortunately before cruising there by car from Padua, I looked up some information about the city Verona. A good idea is to always check out the city’s official website (in this case the portal commune ). Good thing I used to take some Italian lessons when I was younger! Also I’ve looked up information about the landmarks related to Romeo and Juliet (two excellent sources: Let Romeo & Juliet Show You Verona, Italy and Romeo & Juliet, Verona) and was dieing to find a cozy romantic restaurant for the perfect dinner.
Verona is the second largest city after Venice, in the region called Veneto (in the North of Italy). It’s one of the few Italian cities to best preserve the historical heritage. Verona is home to the Roman Amphitheater (also known as The Arena), which dates back to the first century A.D. A lot of interesting buildings caught our eyes, among them: Palazzo Barbieri (where the Town Hall is), Gran Guardia Palace, The Roman Theatre and Palazzo Guastaverza.
After reading through some travel booklets, we decided to start our meeting with the most famous lovers of all times, by first visiting Juliet’s House (It., La Casa de Giulietta). It is one of the locations I’ve been dieing to see in a long while. The house is located in Via Cappello. The building is breathtaking: tall with mellow brick façade, dating from 13th century. Too bad the house is not opened for the public. Though Shakespeare never mentioned to balcony in his play (only said that Juliet’s window was “above”), it’s probably the most important landmark related to Juliet’s house. Just below the balcony we admired the bronze statue of Gulietta and we even managed to take a picture with it. Rubbing the right breast is said to bring luck…guess what we did? It’s amazing how many people queue up to do that!
Hand in hand, we started walking along the narrow streets, packed with ancient buildings with terracotta roofs. We were trying to find Romeo’s House. It took quite a bit of searching until we found the House of the Montagues (Romeo’s house) on Via Ponte Nuovo, just close to Piazza Erbe. Unfortunately the house is in such bad condition that no one is allowed inside. But our booklet read that the house was built in the 14th century, with Gothic elements.
A little sad to see that Romeo seems to be of less importance for the municipality, we decided to look for Juliet’s tomb. It’s located in the monastery of Capucins, in Via del Pontiere, near the river. There isn’t much left of the old monastery, only the cloisters and the chapel. Within the grounds we saw the stone sarcophagus, on a stone floor covered by a dim light. It seemed to be the perfect resting place for a tragic heroine. I only wondered why we couldn’t get a hold of Romeo’s tomb.
Strangely enough we were told that newlyweds have their wedding photos taken at the site of the tomb. And someone even told us we could have our own wedding there as it is one of the top 10 locations to get married.
Our “encounters” with Romeo and Juliet were pretty much finished and we were searching for some romantic things to do. We were told that the view from Torre dei Lamberti is magnificent and we could see the most beautiful panoramic view of the city from the top. So we headed to Piazza dei Signori and entered through the courtyard of the Mercato Vecchio (Engl. Old Market ) and we took the stairs to the top. The view was indeed magnificent. A romantic place to end a romantic day. Or maybe not…
I surprised my girlfriend with a romantic dinner at a secluded cafe, just near Piazza Erbe.