48 hours Palermo A gas­tro­nomic week­end in the buzzing Si­cil­ian cap­i­tal

Léa Teuscher vis­its a city at the cross­roads of history, whose nar­row me­dieval lanes lead to ex­quis­ite churches, bustling mar­kets and per­fect places to sam­ple hearty Si­cil­ian fare

Food and Travel (UK) - - Welcome -

Why go? It’s one of the places where east meets west and north meets south. It’s a po­tent com­bi­na­tion that helped crown Palermo an en­tirely wor­thy Ital­ian Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture 2018. Walk it and lose your­self in tiny paved streets to ap­pre­ci­ate its splen­dours. Founded by the Phoeni­cians, it was once the cul­tural equal of Cairo or Cór­doba: to­day, plain-look­ing churches con­ceal won­ders of baroque mar­ble and golden Byzan­tine mo­saics. In the North African mar­kets, ar­ti­chokes, blood­red oranges and aubergines are piled on stalls. De­spite bombs that destroyed the old har­bour, and the long rule of the Mafia that froze re­gen­er­a­tion and re­con­struc­tion, Palermo has three mil­len­nia of history be­hind it, de­li­cious food and dis­tinc­tive tra­di­tions all wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered.

What to do Start with a look at the in­trigu­ing Qu­at­tro Canti, the ‘Four Cor­ners’ cross­roads dec­o­rated with fountains and bear­ing al­le­gories of the four sea­sons. Be­hind it hides Pi­azza Pre­to­ria and its 16th-cen­tury foun­tain, as well as La Mar­torana church. Be­tween the city’s three main av­enues (Via Roma, Via Maqueda and Corso Vit­to­rio Emanuele) you’ll find lit­tle me­dieval lanes wind­ing past glorious churches and ram­shackle build­ings. Visit the mag­nif­i­cent Capella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Nor­manni with its Ara­bic palm-tree mo­saics and beau­ti­ful or­nate wooden ceil­ing. Palermo Cathe­dral, honey-coloured and Cata­lan in­flu­enced, still retains a mosque pil­lar in its en­trance. Nearby is the shop of Palermo’s last cart painter, full of mul­ti­coloured Ves­pas and carts. The huge, neo-classical Teatro Mas­simo teatro­mas­simo.it is sur­rounded by shops and restau­rants. At Mer­cato del Capo, which slinks in a colour­ful daz­zle through the streets be­hind it, you’ll find the life force of the city’s cui­sine as ven­dors ped­dle fresh fish, fruit, meats and cheese. Or, for a taste of ancient history, drop into the Museo Arche­o­logico and the Cat­a­combe dei Cap­puc­cini cat­a­combepalermo.it with its 8,000-odd mum­mies. Make a trip to the nearby town of Mon­reale and its mag­nif­i­cent cathe­dral, built by the Nor­man King Wil­liam II and lo­cated atop a hill. Where to stay The 18th-cen­tury Eurostars Cen­trale Palace 00 39 091 8539, urostarsho­tels.it is right in the heart of things. It has a roof-gar­den restau­rant, an op­u­lent Ital­ian Re­nais­sance lobby and lav­ishly dec­o­rated gue­strooms. Grand Ho­tel et Des Palmes 00 39 091 602 8111, grand­ho­tel-et-des-palmes.com is a splen­did art nou­veau build­ing with columns, pan­elled walls and great chan­de­liers. For a cosier feel, try the lovely 15-bed­room Mas­simo Plaza Ho­tel 00 39 091 325 657, mas­si­mo­plaza­ho­tel.com op­po­site the opera. Where to eat and drink Head over to An­tica Fo­cac­ce­ria San Francesco 00 39 091 320 264, an­ti­cafo­cac­ce­ria.it on pretty Via Alessan­dro Pater­nos­tro. Part of the Slow Food move­ment, it is a lo­cal favourite. Or­der a pizza or try the tra­di­tional milza, a roll with ricotta, parme­san and sautéed veal spleen. For a light lunch and great cakes, head to Via Principe di Bel­monte for the An­tico Caffè Spin­nato 00 39 091 749 5104 and try their Si­cil­ian al­mond cakes and can­noli, the tube-shaped pas­try filled with ricotta cheese, cho­co­late and can­died or­ange. Ris­torante Cin Cin 00 39 091 612 4095, ris­toran­tecincin.com on Via Daniele Manin serves Si­cil­ian dishes such as cour­gette souf­flé and pis­ta­chio and cin­na­mon semifreddo, pre­sented as they would have been when served to the aris­toc­racy two cen­turies ago. Street food ven­dors sell­ing re­gional snacks such as arancine – luscious balls of saf­fron-scented rice, fried to a crispy golden brown – are scat­tered all over the city, with many pop­u­lar spots con­cen­trated near the busy Vuc­ciria, Bal­larò and Capo mar­kets. Time run­ning out? Don’t miss a visit to the beloved-by-lo­cals An­tica Gela­te­ria Ilardo 00 39 091 617 2118 on Foro Ital­ico to en­joy an ice cream the Si­cil­ian way – served on a lit­tle brioche roll – and linger for a while to peo­ple-watch and ad­mire the sea views. Trip tip Add a pop of colour to hol­i­day at­tire and grab a straw coffa bag, unique to Si­cily. For men, a cop­pola hat in tweed or cot­ton has been the Si­cil­ian gen­tle­man’s millinery choice for gen­er­a­tions. Pick them up at the bustling mar­ket on Via Bal­larrò.

Clock­wise from top left: plates of fresh oc­to­pus tempt passers-by; fish­ing boats bob in the har­bour; ripe wa­ter­mel­ons; sar­dines,fresh off the boat; a dis­play of sword­fish; you’re never far fromfresh pro­duce in Palermo; the city’s palms and rooftops; lo­cal grapes for sale

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.