In February I went to Palermo with Exa, and we spent 3 days in one of the most bizarre places on earth.
Palermo is an ancient and previously wealthy city. It’s full of Byzantine, Greek, and Roman style buildings, along with a few Fascist era and Baroque mansions. In history, it provided a key place for traders and helped build the Two Sicilies kingdom into enormous wealth. Now, it’s still beautiful, but mostly in it’s decay. The streets are dirty.
I would not wear white shoes there. Or white anything.
We stayed at A Casa di Amici, a little hostel on a quiet street right behind the Teatro Massimo, the grand opera house. It was beautiful, and right near the main streets. In addition- there was a FREE breakfast! Plus internet! It was a great hostel to stay in.
Regardless of how sketchy or slightly dingy Palermo’s streets were, the food and the markets were great. We went to a restaurant three days in a row and managed to have 4 euro half-liters of wine (Un mezzo litro di vino rosso), along with the greatest pizzas I’ve tasted, with great salted meats and amazing tomato sauces. In terms of those two travel to eat, this is a place to go, to be, to taste!
Palermo has some of the most intricate churches I’ve seen, and they hide themselves in the streets. They are extremely well kept, too, and smell amazing. It sounds so strange to note the smell- but it was memorable! The churches were busy and extremely ornate, as per the Rococo style, but they weren’t overwhelming because the light from the domes and the windows up high made one not feel overwhelmed.
Palermo is a beautiful city. To go, have a bag and don’t look like a tourist, but you can wander freely. There are some awesome archeological museums, and the fish market is NOT to be missed. It’s a loud, noisy place were jay-walking is an art form.