The capital of both the Province of Palermo and the autonomous Italian region of Sicily, the city of Palermo is one of the world’s oldest inhabited regions. It has seen rule and residence by cultures ranging from the ancient Phoenicians to the Romans to the Byzantines, and beyond. The contributions of these numerous civilizations have ensured Palermo a rich and varied culture, and provide modern tourists with fascinating sights, sounds, and scenes to explore. Today, visitors can experience the best of Italy’s distinctive offerings, including unique cuisine and architecture in a variety of styles from Baroque to Gothic to Romanesque, all set against a gorgeous and balmy Mediterranean backdrop.
Location: The Crossroads Between Europe and Africa
Palermo is a port city on the Mediterranean island of Sicily, one of Europe’s southernmost regions, and one that, as such, has seen considerable influence from northern African cultures. The city is most conveniently reached by its international airport (PMO), but is also accessible from the mainland by ferry and hydrofoil over the Strait of Messina. A large-scale suspension bridge has been long-planned, but heavy debates have stalled construction. Once on Sicily itself, a well-maintained network of roads offers links to other cities and villages.
Business: An Emerging European Marketplace and Industry Hub
At present, tourism and the services industry form the bulk of local economic activity, but the Europe 2020 vision aims to bring entrepreneurs and international businesses into the city. Both the Italian government and the European Union are currently working together to advance Sicily’s – and especially Palermo’s – economy into the modern era.
Culture: Italian History throughout the Ages
Breathtaking Roman Catholic churches include the Basilica of San Francesco d’Assisi, built around 1260 AD and exhibiting centuries of distinctive modifications and expansions, while the Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman palace) recalls a time of Norman rule in the 11th and 12th centuries. Those interested in even older remains of local settlements should visit the Regional Archeological Museum Antonio Salinas, hosting one of the country’s richest collections of ancient art and artifacts – including those of prehistoric cave dwellers.
Activities: Explore Unique Italian and Arab Influences
Palermo offers much more than just ancient monuments. Avid shoppers will want to experience the Italian art of bargaining at outdoor marketplaces for themselves – stop by the stalls at the Mercato della Vucciria to put your negotiation skills to the test and pick up some souvenirs. For authentic and delicious street food, stop by the Mercato di Capo – the sounds, sights, and smells of this market make for an authentic, unforgettable taste of Sicily.