We visited two Italian capitals, one after the other: Palermo, the Sicilian capital and Cagliari the capital of Sardinia. A great way to take our leave of Italy with a flourish.
Palermo makes an impression
We hightailed it to Palermo helming through the night to get our auto-pilot serviced. A stay at Sicily’s capital city was on our plan, but we hadn’t done much research and didn’t know what to expect. A colleague of Simon’s told him he had been and had really enjoyed his visit. “It’s gritty and the street food is great” he said. So I was expecting Palermo to be run down and dirty, which it is in parts and certainly as soon as you leave the centre. But I was not expecting a wealth of monuments on a par with Florence or Barcelona.
As lovely as it has been to visit places like the Aeolian Islands and Taormina which are popular touristic highlights, it was nice to be in a city which has a life which doesn’t revolve around tourism so much. Palermo is vibrant with many cultural events; everything from modern art exhibitions including street art to classical musical seasons and was celebrating being the Italian city of culture 2018.It is cosmopolitan and vibrant with the usual Mediterranean buzz at night.
There are the incredible layers of history that can be found throughout Sicily with a particular Palermo twist. Seven churches make up a UNESCO world heritage site as they are a distinctive blend of Arab and Norman architecture. It is as if a mosque and a Gothic church got together and made a love child. This blend is particular to Palermo where you can find several chuches with domes like mosques and a mix of byzantine bling and distinctly Arabic mosaics, intertwining the shapes and forms in complex pattern.