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Capital of passionate Sicily, Palermo is a beautiful city frequently overshadowed by its more glamorous sisters Rome and Milan, but it is well worth a visit.

Hugging the dazzling blue Mediterranean Sea, Palermo is a sun soaked paradise with stunning architecture like the honey-coloured Cathedral, the byzantine La Martorana church and the eerie Catacombe dei Cappuccini. The Archaeological Museum boasts many historical treasures while the Piazzas Garraffello and Pretoria, complete with resplendent fountain, are perfect for drinking coffee, listening to live music and watching life go by.

There are plenty of flights to Palermo and hotels to suit all travellers' budgets. In the historical centre there are budget B&B’s like the Novecento, Attic 12 and the lovely Al Giardino Dell'Alloro, just a short stroll from the Piazza San Francesco. The Hotel Casa Giuditta and Le Casette offer hotel and self-catering accommodation just a stone’s throw from the ocean while in the hills outside the city just fifteen minutes by bus is the Saint Thorn Guest Club with views across glistening Mondello Beach. The four star Excelsior Palace is one of Palermo’s oldest hotels. Located near the harbour it even has its own English Garden. For all out luxury, the five star Villa Igiea Palermo complete with Greek pool overlooking the sea, nestles in the hills above Palermo.

Spend the day browsing the colourful markets that dot the city from the Borgo Vecchio and antique market in Piazza Peranni to Ballaro selling food and designer Italian clothes to La Vucciria, the most famous, selling just about everything.

As the scent of lemon groves floats down the mountain towards the sea, balmy evenings brim with the aroma of Sicilian cuisine wafting out of local trattorias, as the glittering Teatro Massimo comes to life with a programme of fiery Italian operas. It may be quieter than Florence and less showy than Venice but Palermo is a hidden Italian gem.

Did you know..?

Every November the best Sicilian puppeteers and puppet makers put on shows and present their astonishing puppets to the city of Palermo. So beautiful is it that UNESCO has declared the Festival di Morgana a unique treasury of living history. The Marionette Museum later has the puppets on display.

Palermo was once known as ‘Gerden City’ due to its many lush green and flower filled parks and gardens. Many of these now belong to private villas but some still remain.

Goethe loved Palermo and wrote about it in his travel diary ‘The Italian Journey’. He described his arrival into Palermo by sea as “the tops of trees sway like vegetable glow-worms and a haze tints all the shadows blue”.