Almost the same age as Rome and as architecturally diverse as any other European city, Palermo, the capital of the island of Sicily, is every culture-seeker's dream. Thanks to its Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine and Arab heritage, it has a fantastic mix of ancient and medieval landmarks, and is within easy reach of many of Sicily's superb sandy beaches. This city receives very mild, relatively sunny winters, and hot, extended summers with very high sunshine hours. Each year, millions of people take direct flights to Palermo Falcone–Borsellino Airport from dozens of other cities in Europe, predominantly during the main tourist season in the warmer months.
In the Piazza Pretoria, see this majestic fountain with its enormous naked statues near the Quattro Canti district. It was once nicknamed the 'Fountain of Shame' by devout Catholics, and was designed by Francesco Camilliani, a Florentine sculptor, in the mid-16th century.
Even for people with little interest in architecture, it's impossible not to be captivated by Palermo Cathedral, which was built over a period of approximately six centuries. With its unique combination of Norman, Gothic, Moorish, Baroque, and Classical Revival architecture, it is a building with remarkably varied decor and a meticulous portico, and is in many ways a testament to the city's turbulent but eventful maritime past.
A mesmerising work of art, the Cappella Palatina is a truly enchanting 12th-century chapel with an interior so flamboyant that it could be fit for any monarch. It's a spectacular incorporation of Norman, Arab and Byzantine art, and is especially noted for its gold mosaics.
Europe's oldest former royal residence, the Palazzo dei Normanni is estimated to be more than 1,100 years old and was expanded during the Norman era. The palace, which is adjacent to the Cappella Palatina, was the exclusive home of the monarchs of the Kingdom of Sicily, a state that lasted for nearly 700 years until the early 19th century.
See the terrific Teatro Massimo opera house, which was established in 1897 and is one of Europe's largest. For an astounding view of the city, head to the top of 606-metre Mount Pellegrino, or take an excursion to the breathtaking volcanic island of Ustica, just a short hydrofoil journey away.
You could stay at the refined Palazzo Brunaccini, the beautifully presented Grand Hotel Villa Igiea - MGallery Collection, or the immaculate Grand Hotel Piazza Borsa if you're looking for top-of-the-range accommodation in the city. Other sought-after, more affordable hotels include the charming Hotel Ariston, the budget-friendly Hotel Columbia Palermo, and the stylish Hotel Posta.
For some tantalising, rustic local cuisine, try the Corona Trattoria, the FlaM Osteria Contemporanea restaurant, the Trattoria I Compari, or the Lo Scrigno dei Sapori. You can also enjoy other mouthwatering Mediterranean dishes at the Al Fondaco del Conte restaurant, or some exquisite seafood at I Sapori del Mare.
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|Food and beverages||Prices average|
|Beer (0.5 liter)||£1.00|
|Meal at McDonald's||£6.00|
|Water (0.33 liter)||£1.00|
|Taxi starting price (normal tariff)||£9.00|
|1 summer dress in a chain store (Zara, H&M,...)||£28.00|
|1 pair of jeans (Levi's 501 or similar)||£64.00|
|Average monthly disposable salary (net)||£798.00|