H I S T O R I CA L B EA U T Y & C H A R M I N A B U N D U N C E
Flamboyant, guarded, feisty yet staunchly aristocratic, Palermo is a seething mass of contradictions. Pock-marked buildings, broken pavements and decrepit infrastructure reveal deep political and economic cracks, and yet all are easy to overlook when you enter a church full of luminously beautiful Byzantine mosaics, wander along a street of stately baroque palazzi (palaces) or eavesdrop on the genial banter between canny stall owners and bargain-hunting housewives at a street market. Palermo is a cryptic creature, a city where nefarious neglect and soul-stirring beauty have always linked arms, where preconceptions are concurrently affirmed and subverted, where light and shade stir impressions that bury deep under your skin. Centuries of dizzying highs and crushing lows have formed a complex metropolis. Here, crumbling staircases lead to gilded ballrooms and guarded locals harbour hearts of gold. Just don't be fooled. Despite its noisy streets, Sicily’s largest city is a shy beast, rewarding the inquisitive with citrus-filled cloisters, stucco-laced chapels and crooked side streets dotted with youthful artisan studios. Add to this Italy’s biggest opera house and an ever-growing number of vibrant, new-school eateries and bars and you might find yourself falling suddenly, unexpectedly in love. H a v i n g b e e n t h e c r o s s r o a d s o f c i v i l i s a t i o n s f o r m i l l e n n i a , P a l e r m o d e l i v e r s a h e a d y , h e a v i l y s p i c e d m i x o f B y z a n t i n e m o s a i c s , A r a b e s qu e d o me s a n d f r e s c o e d c u p o l a s .