What to see around Palermo

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Pau Monfort
@paumonfort
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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If you have already visited Palermo, you can safely consider it too as a basis (a great base!) to visit several crazy places that are nearby like Monreale, Cefalù, Segesta, Ericand, etc. There is something for all tastes, from seaside resorts to archaeological ones, from historical ones to naturalistic ones. Here are the places around Palermo that I recommend you visit:

1.Monreale

A trip to Palermo cannot be separated from the visit of Cathedral and the Cloister of Monreale! This town, which is located a few kilometers outside Palermo, developed in the XNUMXth century around the Benedictine abbey, the royal palace and the Cathedral. Nothing remains of the palace and the abbey, while the Cathedral and its cloister have been perfectly preserved. The Monreale complex represents the quintessence of Arab-Norman and Byzantine art. The mosaics of the cathedral are something simply unique and perfect. The view from the terraces of the Cathedral is also beautiful, as is the Cloister, with more than 90 columns decorated with mosaics and Romanesque capitals (free entrance to the Duomo - entrance to the terraces + diocesan museum + treasure + cloister 12 €). To reach Monreale from the center of Palermo there is the AST bus from the Central Station (recommended! It has more timetables - 3 €) or the N.389 from Piazza Indipendenza (ask for all the timetables in the Information offices that you find around the city ). To visit everything, expect about 2h-2h30. 



Where to eat in Monreale: Totò Pizzeria, a very special and intimate location where you can eat an excellent pizza.

2.Cefalu

The ancient fishing village of Cefalù it is a must on any self-respecting trip to Sicily, especially if you are in the Palermo area. It cannot be said that it has remained authentic (the tourists who arrive here are many and the town is filled with souvenir shops and restaurants), but it is still worth a visit especially for its Duomo and for the postcard seafront. The Romanesque-Norman style cathedral decorated with golden stones is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Sicily and was always built by Roger II (the same ruler of the Palatine Chapel, etc.). Walk along Corso Ruggero (the main street of the village) and climb the ancient ramparts to have a beautiful view of the sea (perhaps at sunset with a nice aperitif from the terrace of Ramparts and Constance or that of The Little Barrel). Sports enthusiasts can then get on the Roll (about 1h) to have a superb view that ranges from Capo d'Orlando to Palermo. To reach Cefalù from the center of Palermo there is the train from the Central Station. Several depart during the day and take about 1 hour (€ 6,2 one way). If you arrive by car, stop for an arancina alla Gallizza rotisserie before entering the city: they are considered among the best in Sicily! 



Where sleeping in Cefalù

Hotel Le Calette Garden & Bay: if you want to take advantage of the visit to Cefalù to spend a day at the beach in total relaxation, Le Calette is the perfect location! The Hotel overlooks a small bay with a private beach and a short distance from the center of Cefalù. It is a very nice structure that also has a swimming pool, a wellness center and 2 restaurants ... all surrounded by a green garden. NB even if you are not a guest of the hotel you can pay an entrance to use the sun loungers and the private beach.

3.Mondello and Sferracavallo

Mondello it is located 10 km north of Palermo and is the best known holiday resort in the area: in summer all of Palermo pours here! The area was discovered by the upper class of Palermo in the early 1900s and began building magnificent ones there city ​​in Art Nouveau style, as well as the large liberty establishment located in the center of the beach. At the end of the beach, passing behind the La Torre hotel you can take a walk to reach it the abandoned Capo Gallo lighthouse (it is a natural reserve, very suggestive). Continuing further you can also get to the little one fishing village of Sferracavallo. To reach Model from the center of Palermo there is the number 806 bus from Piazza Sturzo. If you want to reach Sferracavallo directly you can take the train (it is the same that connects the center of Palermo to the Falcone-Borsellino Airport). 


Where to eat in Mondello

From Enzo (Mondello), an institution !! Excellent fish and outdoor tables to eat with a view of the sea. If you arrive as far as Sferracavallo, on the other hand, I recommend you The dolphin, another great classic where to eat seafood.

4.Segesta

The archaeological site of Segesta it is located about 90 km from Palermo and is a Greek archaeological site of inestimable value, as well as of great beauty. The site is located next to a deep natural gorge in the middle of wild and isolated mountains from which you can see the sea in the distance. What remains today of theancient Segesta are a unfinished Doric temple very well preserved, but above all a theater on top of a hill that enjoys a spectacular natural setting, which is also practically intact. To reach Segesta you will necessarily need a private vehicle. If you continue towards Trapani, stop and eat a cannoli at Dattilo's Euro Bar, a town in itself insignificant, were it not for the town bar that sells the best zero-kilometer cannoli in all of Sicily. A must see for anyone I would say!


5.Bagheria 

Bagheria it is located 25 km from Palermo, on the road to Cefalù, and is also called la "City of villas" because between 1700 and 1900 it was the favorite holiday resort of the Palermo nobility. The Baroque villas built in those years were more impressive and luxurious than those that the nobles had in Palermo. In the last century the city began to be much less frequented, the dynasties ended, as well as the riches, and Bagheria was almost abandoned. Today it has a nice decadent atmosphere that is worth experiencing and seeing. Among the villas not to be missed there are certainly Villa Palagonia (also known as the Villa dei Mostri, for the walls of the villa that were adorned with it), Villa Butera e Villa Cattolica, which houses the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art with the works of Gattuso (originally from Bagheria). From a naturalistic point of view, do not miss the beaches, Capo Mongerbino, Capo Zafferano and Arco Azzurro. If the town seems familiar to you, there is nothing strange: several films have been shot here including Baaria and Nuovo Cinema Paradiso by Giuseppe Tornatore. 


Where to sleep in Bagheria

Ze-Vi Home: if you have a few more days and want to do a few days at sea, Bagheria and its surroundings (such as Santa Flavia and Solanto for example) can be an excellent choice! The beaches are beautiful and, except in August, uncrowded. Ze-vi Home for example is located in Santa Flavia, a couple of km from the beach, and is a well-kept apartment with access to a beautiful outdoor swimming pool (only during the summer season), a bar and a terrace.

6.Castellammare, Scopello and the Zingaro Nature Reserve

Castellammare del Golfo it is located in the center of the gulf that opens onto the Tyrrhenian Sea between Capo Rama and Capo San Vito. The whole coast is famous for its beautiful beaches and is full of bathing establishments, but the town itself is also worth a visit for the tower of the medieval castle that dominates the port and for its ocher-colored houses. Moving from Castellammare towards Capo San Vito there is then Scopello with the famous tonnara. Its ancient village is a gem and has remained unchanged over time until the 80s, when the road to reach it was built. Since then it has become much more touristic and has also been used by several directors as a set (eg Ocean's 12, Montalbano and others). Continuing over several paths, they enter the Zingaro Nature Reserve, with overhanging walls and coves with crystal clear water. This part of the coast is simply magnificent!


Where sleeping in Scopello

The Tonnara of Scopello : if you want to pamper yourself, this property is simply perfect and magnificent! It is located right in front of the tonnara and the stacks and offers apartments of different sizes equipped and tastefully furnished (as well as a beach and a terrace for exclusive use!). Here you will feel like you are reliving a little of those "Leopard" atmospheres.

7.Corleone

Who does not know Corleone? For years it has been synonymous with the mafia and it is precisely here that Coppola set some scenes from the Godfather series. The town of Corleone is located 60 km from Palermo, towards the interior, and is laboriously trying to give itself a new image. In 2001 he opened the CIDMA (International Center for Documentation on Mafia and Anti-Mafia Movement), a very interesting museum that wants to promote civic awareness against organized crime and silence. There are several rooms including "La stanza dei faldoni" which houses the documents of the Maxi - trial, donated to Corleone by the Court of Palermo, the result of the work of Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino. Among the folders it is also possible to see the statements made by the repentant Tommaso Buscetta to judge Falcone. Then there is the “message room” with Letizia Battaglia's photos on the mafia murders, and much more. If you come to Corleone don't miss it too the two fortresses that dominate the town (Soprana and Sottana known as "I Faraglioni di Corleone") and, in the surroundings, the Gorges of the Dragon, along the Frattina river. 

The Godfather fans will be able to participate in a guided tour of the locations where the film was shot between the countries of Savoca e Forza d'Agro

8. Borgo Parrini (Partinico)

I close this review on what to see around Palermo with a discovery I made during my last Sicilian trip. Let's talk about Borgo Parrini, a small fraction of Partinico, 47 km from Palermo (and 24 from the Falcone and Borsellino airport), a semi-abandoned village inhabited by a few souls that has, however, recently experienced new life. Thanks to the intuition and will of an entrepreneur and the few residents, they decided to restore the old houses in the center of the village with a style that is very reminiscent of Gaudi's modernism, with bright colors and mosaics, thus attracting new visitors. The village is very small but very cute and photogenic, it has a nice literary café and a historic bakery that makes a finger-licking sfincione. 

You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Sicily:

  • Western Sicily: 3 days between Marsala, Mazara, Selinunte, Segesta and Gibellina
  • What to see in Palermo in 3 days
  • What to see in Catania and surroundings
  • Where to eat in Palermo
  • Favignana: the beaches, where to sleep and where to eat
  • Marettimo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
  • Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
  • 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily


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