I’ve lived in Italy for quite a while now, and regrettably I’ve seen a very limited amount of it. I decided to change this by heading south to some warmer weather (it’s been rainy and foggy here in Lucca—an atypical Tuscan spring). Taking the approach that the best trips are usually the least planned, I chose to head to Palermo. It’s a city where you will find very few American accents, and some traditions and food that come to mind when you think about Italy.
Here are some tips for Palermo that I found helpful the days that I was there.
Know the two main roads.
Three streets stretch out from the train station, where you will usually arrive by bus from the airport or by, of course, train. Via Roma is the main street where you will find most the shops and ATMs in case you need to get cash. Tucked into some side streets are plenty of restaurants serving fresh seafood and pasta. The second main drag is Via Maqueda. Most of the hotels, hostels, and life of the city is located here. The good news? Both are easy to find and stay on, so you should have no problem getting from one end of the city to the other.
Watch your money and stay safe.
Unfortunately, Palermo is not the safest of cities, which is why you will find few Americans there. Shockingly, the Mafia is still a large presence, and you should watch your wallet and try to use an ATM indoors so you are less likely to have your cash swiped after taking it out. As a woman, you want to be especially careful. Try to avoid going out at night alone and reconsider a night at the club—you won’t be able to walk home with the assurance of safety like you can in other cities in Italy like Florence or Venice.
Palermo is a great city with a lot of character, but you can see most everything in a day or two. If you are planning on seeing some more sights, consider taking a day trip to one of the nearby locations like Agrigento where you can see Grecian, Roman, and early Christian ruins. The absolutely stunning Mondello beach is only a twenty-minute bus ride from the city center, and it’s worth spending an entire day there relaxing in the sun. Just don’t forget your sunscreen—the sun is stronger in Sicily than many locations.
Have any tips for Palermo? Any ideas for day trips?