The Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale
Comprising three cathedrals, three churches, two palaces and a legendary bridge, this majestic collection of UNESCO World Heritage marvels in and around Palermo typifies the heady mix of cultures, traditions, artforms and architectural styles that infuse Sicily. Built in the Norman-dominated 12th century, they adjoin European, Islamic and Byzantine traditions in a striking display of marquetry, mosaic and design – and together, the nine sites are a spectacular way to immerse yourself in Sicilian history.
Teatro Massimo and Teatro Politeama
Indulge in the arts across Sicily’s most celebrated cultural sites: the Teatro Massimo and Teatro Politeama. First, Teatro Massimo: a symbol of the city and the largest opera house in Italy, the imposing, acoustically perfect Neoclassical music temple is the place to see international opera and ballet. And, just a short walk through Palermo’s city centre, its other bastion of live performance, Teatrop Politeama – home to the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana and a diverse schedule of concerts and shows. Ask our concierge for boxes, tickets and tours.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
RISO Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Galleria Regionale di Sicilia, Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonio Salinas, Galleria d'Arte Moderna
The meeting point between countless cultures – part Phoenician, part Carthaginian, part Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Arab and many more across the ages – each of Sicily’s ruling and visiting nations left its mark. No more is this clear than in the island’s arts, and no better is this exhibited than in Palermo’s galleries and museums. While a visitor could spend weeks exploring Italy’s former Capital of Culture, a shorter trip must take in: Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, or the Riso Contemporary Art Museum, an eminent contemporary collection held in the exquisite Palazzo Riso; Gothic-Catalan Palazzo Abatellis’ Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, a treasure trove of important regional art; the incredible collection of Carthaginian and Greek archaeology at the Museo Archeologico Regionale Antonino Salinas, housed in a former monastery; and the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, a Franciscan convent transformed into a historic collection of art from the past two centuries.
The cemetery of the Convent of the Capuchin Friars
Embrace the macabre and see a very different side to Sicily on a visit to the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo – the cemetery of the Convent of the Capuchin Friars, housing thousand of ancient mummified or preserved corpses along its crypt walls. A solemn, sanctified tradition within Palermitan society between the 17th and 19th centuries, this unique burial display makes for a deeply impactful visitor experience.
Mondello, Cefalù, San Vito lo Capo, Riserva dello Zingaro and Scopello
A postcard-perfect Mediterranean island known for its many miles of beautiful beaches, Sicily’s northern coast is especially blessed in its spectacular stretches of sand – each within easy reach of Palermo city centre. Just west of the city is turquoise-watered Mondello Beach, a charming seaside location beloved by locals. Continuing along the coast, you’ll find the dramatic cliffsides, stone streets and storied sites of seaside hamlet Scopello; then the pristine waters and white sands of San Vito Lo Capo at the foot of Monte Monaco; and, just out of San Vito, Sicily’s first natural reserve: Riserva dello Zingaro – a spectacularly diverse ecological site offering hiking trails and wildlife spotting above miles of unblemished beach. And to the east of Palermo is the coastal city of Cefalù, celebrated for its long, lovely stretch of white-sanded beach. Can’t choose? Charter a boat from Palermo and zip along the coastline to each idyllic seaside spot.
Via Libertà and Via Ruggero Settimo
From its famous food markets to its high-style boutiques, Palermo is a paradise for shoppers. Followers of fashion should start with chic street Via Libertà – considered Sicily’s answer to the Champs-Elysées – and neighbouring Via Ruggero Settimo, for designer names from Hermès to Prada, elegant department stores and artisanal independent boutiques along picturesque boulevards. Private personal shopping trips and store visits are available for Villa Igiea guests.