It can be very hot and in...
It can be very hot and in general the climate is dry. Don't forget you're in South Europe (not that you could forget...) and people have siesta's. It's too hot and nothing will be open anyway...so you go to the beach! Mondello has is a sandy beach with blue very blue water. For less crowd and a fine rocky beach walk five minutes to the West.
Way out west
Trapani and Erice lie 100 kilometres to the west of Palermo - an easy day's outing if you have your own car. Trapani lies at the foot of Mt Eryx and if I were planning a visit to both towns, I would head for Trapani (autostrada all the way) and find my way to Casa Santa, at the eastern edge of the town, leave the car in the carpark and and take the cable car to Erice, taking in the fantastic views of Trapani and the islands beyond far below as the cable ascends.
The cable car terminates just a few metres from the main gate of Erice and from there the street leads straight into the centre of the little town. Turning right at the gate will take you around to the castle, and a left turn will bring you to the Chiesa Madre with its seperate bell tower and amazing vaulted ceiling that looks for all the world like a fantasy in marzipan. The town is a mediaeval gem, all cobbled streets and historic buildings. There are more than 60 churches and monasteries within its walls. All that picturesqueness naturally means the town is a magnet for tourists. It's full of shops selling trinkets and pretty knick-knacks, but all you have to do is move away from the main street and square and you'll find quiet cobbled streets that look as though nothing's changed here for a couple of hundred years.
When you've had your fill of Erice, make your way back to the cable car. By the time you've completed the descent, enveloped in total quiet, with that marvellous view spreading out before you all the way, you'll have left all thoughts of tourist crowds behind you. If you've timed it right, you should be just about ready for lunch - why not head right the way across town to Trapani's historic old centre and find a table on the terrace of Ai Lumi, an excellent restaurant on the ground floor of the 16th century Palazzo Mellili? An afternoon spent exploring the narrow streets of Trapani, considered to be the most North African-influenced city in Sicily, will reveal Baroque palaces, grand churches and a terrific fish market. You'll find a wealth of interesting architectual details to catch your eye - wonderful doorways, handsome windows and balconies, domes and cupolas. There are plenty of smart little shops too for the retail tragics amongst us.
A short drive out of Trapani on the coast road to Masala opens out a different world again - the strange, watery world of the salt pans where red-hatted windmills stand sentinel over a shimmering, silent landscape whilst Mt Eryx forms a dramatic background.
Four quarters of a city
Palermo's handsome Piazza Vigliena (much more commonly known as Quattro Canti) marks the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emmanuele and Via Maqueda. Geographically the centre of the city when it was built, even in today's sprawling metropolis, it is still regarded as the heart of the city. The piazza was laid out in 1608 in an ambitious and very successful piece of early city planning.
Every Italian city has a major street named after Victor Emanuel ll, the first king of unified Italy who reigned from 1861-1878. When Sicily's 17th century Spanish Viceroy took up town planning, the street was known as the Cassaro and was an ancient thoroughfare that ran from the harbour to the Norman Palace. The Viceroy's planners had a new street constructed, crossing the Cassaro right in the middle, dividing the city very neatly into four distinct quarters. Of course the street was named for the most important man in town - the Viceroy himself, the Duke of Marqueda.
Fountains, statues, columns and coats of arms adorn the curved facades of the palazzos that stand at each corner in a splendid symmetry. Each corner has three tiers of decoration - at ground level there are fountains representing the four seasons. Above the fountains stand statues of the four Spanish kings (Charles V, Philip II, Philip III, and Philip IV), and above them stand four saints - Santa Ninfa, Santa Cristina, Sant’Oliva, and Sant’Agata - all of whom were reputedly born in Palermo.
The crossroads divided the city into four distinct quarters - Capo, in the north-west quadrant, Vucciria in the north-east, Kalsa in the south-east and Albergheria in the south-west.
La Vucciria is a Palermo's colourful market . If you leave Piazza Marina with the sea behind you you'll reach Corso Vittorio Emanuele, just before Via Maqueda on the right you should see (hear and smell) the market once immortalised by the painter Renato Guttuso. Here the colours, flavours and voices of Palermo come together in a sensual medley second to none. Stall-holders will try to entice you to buy their wares - from freshly caught fish to luscious vegetables and pungent spices. Food stalls sell an array of sandwiches filled with just about anything you can fry: panelle, chickpea fritters, aubergines, octopus - the list is endless. If you prefer to sit while you're eating try the 'Trattoria Shanghai', which, despite its Chinese name, serves traditional Sicilian food. As you sit supping overlooking the market you'll be forgiven for thinking you're in the middle of Shanghai, or Casablanca or......
Palermo by gm.soleblu (Tourist guides center on ww
A multifaceted jewel that reflects its long history, Palermo is resplendent in the warm Mediterranean sun that exalts the perfumes of jasmine and bitter-orange blosson, of daturas and ancient flowers, emanating from gardens that live under the waving blue of its sky and sleep under the mantle of its stars. A cosmopolitan and multiracial city, a Mediterranean market, a crossroads of civilisations, the ancient silk road passed along its coasts, meeting the routes carrying salt and spices, oils and perfumes, amber and ornaments, tools and arms, wisdom and knowledge, art and science. Its celebrated markets were embassies, and the intersections of all the possible routes of history, along its streets, marked out a master highway of culture and civilisation. A visit to unforgettable Palermo means translating the idea of a journey into a passion that will never leave you as long as you live.