The Centro Storico (historic centre) of Palermo is a lot quieter than most of the areas. Although it is filled with tourists like myself but there is a certain demeanor different from the rest of the city. It is a lot similar to the Rashtrapati Bhavan area in Delhi- quiet, clean and green while the rest stands abuzz with activity.
My first stop in the centro storico was Il Duomo di Palermo (The Palermo Cathedral). Situated around ancient palm trees and neat streets, the cathedral is gorgeous! It’s entrance includes a famous portico that was made in the 16th century. It also includes several jewels which are called the “treasures of the cathedral”. A crypt area inside the church has tombs of the royal Normans. I found it too eerie hence did not venture there.
The Arab Norman baroque styled Duomo has an entry ticket (but of course this is Europe) and if you want to get a view of the city, a narrow tower leads you to the top. Its worth EUR 5.
After a visit to the beautiful Duomo, a long street takes you through local shops of the city. There is everything from street food to Sicilian cuisine,cafes and small bookstores and endless line of souvenir shops. Afterwards about 30 minutes another part of the historic area called the Quattro Canti is a great stop. Quattro Canti is simply a junction where four (quattro) roads lead to four historic areas of the city.
Quattro Canti is full of sculptors and fountains which were commissioned by the Spanish Viceroy in 1611. It is well worth a stop for some photography and remains to my favorite part of the historic centre.
Next to the Quattro Canti is the Kalsa district with its stunning Pretoria fountain. Keep half an hour only for gazing 😉 What a work of art and perfect to cool you off on a hot summer day.
Palermo’s historic centre is rich and full of unique history but sadly gets sidelined due to other cities in Italy. There were many churches in the historic centre that I visited and also several bookshops. The city definitely deserves more attention 😉
-for a quick know how of the city take the Hop On Hop Off bus.
-Getting around in Palermo is manageable by foot. Get a good Map of the city 🙂
–Swiss Airways caters travel to Palermo from India with a layover at Zurich airport. I found it to be the cheapest compared to other airlines flying from India.
-Language is not a barrier in Italy as compared to other European countries. So many Italians know English and if they don’t, they will always find someone to help you when you are stuck.
-For any information and bookings on Sicily contact VisitPalermo & VisitSicily. They are super helpful, quick to revert and easy on your pocket. I guarantee you they will suggest you the best of Palermo and Sicily 🙂