Luxury holidays in Palermo

Since it was founded by the Phoenecians, Palermo’s been a hot potato of a city, passing from the Greeks to the Arabs, to the Vandals to the Visigoths, to the Normans, Spanish royalty and the Bourbons, before finally reunifying with Italy. This melting pot of influences has given Palermo a wholly unique identity, cuisine and culture. The language differs from mainland Italian, its ruins are archeologically all over the place, and this is where favourite dishes such as pasta alla Norma, arancini and caponata originate (not to mention toothache-sweet desserts). It has a somewhat dark underbelly as the longstanding seat of the Cosa Nostra, but these days you’re unlikely to stumble upon any shady doings. In fact, you’re more likely to find yourself in church (this Catholic city has many) or the Unesco recognised Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale. Plus there are grand palazzos aplenty, winding alleys dotted with art studios, gilded opera houses (Italy’s largest is here) and the creepy Capuchin catacombs to brave. And, some bella beaches to boot.

When to go

Palermo gets uncomfortably hot in high summer, but cools to balmy in spring and autumn – although these are peak months for visitors.

Getting there

  • Planes

    Flights from major cities throughout Europe arrive direct at Falcone Borsellino Airport, about a 40-minute drive away from the city centre.
  • Automobiles

    It’s possible to spend a few days in Palermo getting acquainted with its history, sunbathing on its beaches and eating abundantly, but if you want to explore further afield (and it’s worth looking beyond the city for more picturesque landscapes), a car will be nigh on essential. Hire some wheels at the airport.