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  • Area Total : 158.9 km² (61.4 sq. mi)
  • Area Code : 091
  • Currency : Euro (€)
  • Population City : 676,118 Metro: 1,300,000 (2013)
  • Official Language : Sicilian
  • Time Zones : CET (UTC+1) Summer CEST (UTC+2)
  • Airports : Palermo-Punta Raisi Airport (PMO)

PMO was established in 1931 as Palermo-Boccadifalco Airport and was during the 1950s by traffic volume, the third busiest airport in Italy. Construction began for a larger airport and the new Palermo-Punto Raisi Airport opened in 1960. Transport for passengers comprises buses, taxis and hired vehicles. The Prestia e Comande Bus operates daily from 06h30, departing every half hour and taking about 55 minutes to Stazione Centrale and Piazza Castelnuovo. Taxis are located outside Arrivals and take around 45 minutes to the city centre. Car rental counters are in Arrivals and comprise Europcar, Avis, Hertz and Autoeuropa.

Travellers can fly to Palermo from Cape Town, South Africa with the following airlines:

  • Lufthansa, Swiss (via Zurich, Munich) 16h 20m+
  • Alitalia (via Rome) 16h 30m+
  • British Airways, (via London) 18h 35m+
  • KLM (via Amsterdam) 18h 50m+
  • South African (via Johannesburg) 19h 0m+

Airlines taking over 19 hours include:

Airlines touching down at PMO include amongst others:

  • Air Berlin
  • Air Italy
  • EasyJet
  • Iberia
  • Vueling

Reasons to Visit Palermo, Sicily:

  • Surrounded by mountains and nestled in the Golden Basin with its own natural port, Palermo affords a wealth of art, music, culture and fabulous attractions. Lose yourself in history as you stroll down narrow winding streets filled with stalls and bright hanging open globes lighting the merchandise. Spend time in a bar reminiscent of an Arab abode with belly dancers, delicious cocktails and shisha pipes or sit under a star-lit sky with candle light at Cambio Cavalli, one of the citys oldest pubs. Have an evening of opera, fine dining or dancing at a chic nightclub. Soak in the sun on the beach, go kite surfing, diving, hiking or skiing. For antique and art shopping find your way to Corso Alberto Amedeo or for wonderful ceramic art visit Via Isidoro La Lumia, Via Nicolò Gallo or Via Daita. Designer wear can be purchased along the elegant Via Libertá, lined with well-known European and Italian labels. Breathe in the exuberant atmosphere around the local markets that sell all sorts of wares including fresh seafood, local handicrafts and souvenirs. Try one of the superb pastry or ice cream shops the city is known for.
  • Capital of the Metropolitan City of Palermo and the autonomous region of Sicily, Palermo, over 2,700 years old is a city celebrated for its architecture, food and amazing history. Founded in 734 B.C. by the Phoenicians who named it Ziz (flower), Palermo was possessed by Carthage, became part of the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire for more than a thousand years, before it fell under Arab rule from 831 to 1072.
  • Located all over the city theres accommodation comprising budget and luxury hotels, B&Bs, Guest Houses, apartments and backpackers. Travellers on tight budgets can easily survive on street food. Palermo isnt ranked fifth place out of tenth in the world for no reason when it comes to deliciously cheap street food. Ballaro Market is known for excellent street food or dine out at one of several excellent inexpensive Sicilian and Italian restaurants.

When to Go Palermo, Sicily:

Sightseeing is best done during spring (between March and May) or the winter months from December to February. Spring affords temperatures between 12 and 18°C while winter has lows of 12°C and highs of 15°C.

Summer from June until September is hot and dry. July and August are the hottest months with temperatures in the high 20s and sea water at a wonderful 25°C.

Places to Visit Palermo, Sicily:

  • The Teatro Massimo opened in 1897 and again after restoration, in 1997. Its a stunning opera house with a scandalous past that was dedicated to King Victor Emanuel II. Its acoustics are deemed amongst the finest in Europe.
  • The Orto Botanico di Palermo botanical garden, also a research and education facility, is beautifully lush with tree-lined pathways, a perfect escape from noisy city streets.
  • Take in fabulous city vistas from Monte Pellegrino, walk or run along a paved hiking trail and visit the Sanctuary of Santa Rosalia.
  • Established in 1875, the Piazza Pretoria, also known as a square of shame is a masterpiece of Renaissance Revival architectural style that took over 400 years to complete.

The city affords a list of wonderful historic churches, some that include:

  • The church of San Cataldo, dating back to 1154 with its distinct red domes is a magnificent sight.
  • The remarkable Palermo Cathedral, made up with a mix of beautiful architectural styles, was founded on the site of a Muslim mosque that was founded on the site of an early Christian basilica. Glean more on The Battle of the Two Cathedrals that involved Palermo and the Monreale cathedrals.
  • Breathtakingly beautiful, the Church of the Gesù that opened in 1636 is one of the most significant Baroque churches in Sicily.
  • The royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily, Cappella Palatina is an unbelievable sight. It was consecrated on the 28th of April in 1140 and is on the UNESCOs World Heritage List.
  • Martorana, the church of Santa Maria dell Ammiraglio, boasts a stunning display of Byzantine mosaics.
  • The Church of San Domenico, founded in 1770 is the citys second most important church after the ancient cathedral.
  • Another significant church is the medieval Church of St. Francis of Assisi, founded in the 13th century and located in the Kalsa quarter in ancient Cassaro.
  • Other churches worth seeing are the 16th century Santa Maria dello Spasimo, the medieval San Giovanni degli Eremiti and the magnificent San Guiseppe dei Teatini church.

As with churches, palaces are just as plentiful:

  • The historic Palazzo Chiaramonte, home to the influential Sicilian lord Manfredi III Chiaramonte has an interesting history.
  • Built by William II of Sicily in 1180, The Cuba palace served as his personal recreation pavilion along with an artificial lake.
  • The 17th century Palazzo Mirto was the residence of the Filangeri family for 400 years and affords a peek into the opulent lifestyle of Sicilian nobility with velvet, silk, frescoed ceilings, enormous embroidered wall hangings and much more.
  • Other palaces include the Palazzina Cinese, Zisa the restored remains of a Moorish palace, Palazzo dei Normanni, a 9th century palace and museum, the 14th century Catalonian Gothic styled Palazzo Abatellis and Palazzo Ajutamicristo from 1501.

The city affords just as many wonderful restaurants as churches and palaces:

  • Savour a low-cost rich and tasty breakfast of pastry with ricotta at Bar Amato.
  • On a hot day find your way to Al Gelatone, for the best ice cream in the city.
  • For a superb and affordable seafood meal, Trattoria Da Calogero, located in the seaside resort of Mondello wont disappoint you.
  • The tourist friendly Al Casato dei Ventimiglia serves up a variety of Italian dishes in a candle-lit interior at great prices.
  • Enjoy a meal at Antica Caffè Spinnato founded in 1860, always bustling and always with a queue for its delicious bakery specials.
  • Il Baro is a moderately priced restaurant located at Via Mario Rutelli 20 with the reputation for the best pizzas in town.
  • For an evening of superior fine dining, Ristorante Gadir in the Kalsa district affords an exquisite menu in sophisticated surroundings and has a wine cellar boasting over 200 varieties and some of Sicilys best.

Getting Around Palermo, Sicily:

Discovering Palermo is best done on foot.

By Bus:

The municipal bus service run by AMAT is extensive and reaches all main attractions and surrounding areas. Tickets (expire after 90 minutes) can be bought from AMAT kiosks, most tobacco stores and newsagents. Purchase a 24-hour ticket (that expires at midnight) if you plan on using the bus throughout the day.

Also operated by AMAT is the City Sightseeing bus that starts and ends its route at Teatro Politeama stopping at several top attractions. Tickets are sold on board.

The red double decker bus operated by WorldWide City Sightseeing affords a 24 hour hop-on hop-off service on two routes through the city. Departing from Via Emerico Amari, tickets can be booked in advance.

The Metro:

Operating on the same line as the national railway, the Metro is limited but undergoing major expansion.

Taxi:

Taxis are great to get around in as driving is a nightmare. Taxi ranks can be found at the main rail depot, Piazza Verdi, Piazza Indipendenza, Piazza Ruggero Séttimo and other locations.

Rental Vehicles:

Rental companies such as Avis, Hertz, Maggiore are located in the city and at the airport but its seriously not advisable for visitors to drive in Palermo. And if you do survive, find a parking thats not easy and then walk.

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