The perfect short break Palermo
Cox & Kings’ Europe Product Manager, Mike Fleetwood, highlights a few of the reasons why Palermo is the ideal place for an Italian short break.
For many seasoned travellers to Europe, a short break to Palermo does not come naturally at the top of their wish list. The capital of Sicily can often be overlooked when you have the likes of Florence, Rome and Venice as possible destinations on mainland Italy. However, with some of the finest monuments on the island located in the city or within easy driving distance, simple Italian cuisine with a Sicilian twist and above all, a taste of the La Dolce Vita – Palermo is at the top of my list of weekend breaks.
The Duomo, situated just off one of the central squares, dominates the skyline. It was originally constructed in the late 11th century on the site of an early Christian basilica and later a mosque; the remains of this can still be seen with passages from the Koran inscribed on various places. The Doumo has been gradually added to over the years, with the main inclusion being the Catalan Gothic Portico and the clock tower.
The Greek and Roman Temples are probably the most recognised tourist attractions on the island, but the real jewel in the crown is the Cappella Palatina. Located in the Palazzo dei Normanni, it was built in 1132 by Roger II, the King of Sicily. It combines intricate mosaics and murals, with a wooden roof adorned with Arabic scripts. The sheer beauty of the chapel leaves many visitors speechless in wonder. As it is still a working chapel, before visiting you must check the opening times, as they are quite limited.
Fontana Pretoria is an ornate fountain situated in a square almost opposite the Duomo. Built in the mid 1500s, it contains three levels of mythological creatures including statues of sirens and Titans. The fountain’s second name is the ‘Fountain of Shame’, because of the high ratio of nude statues found around it.
Apart from these attractions, there is also an excellent archaeological museum housing treasures from around the island. The museum displays over 2,000 marionettes from across the globe and the various small churches dotted around the city – each containing a wealth of ornate and intricate wooden carvings or mosaics. The Monreale Cathedral, about a 40-minute drive from Palermo contains some fine examples of Arab-Norman art.
Palermo short break – the 4* Centrale Palace has an enviable location on the Via Vittorio Emanuele, about 500 meters from the Duomo and about 15 minutes walk from the Cappella Palatina. A 3 night stay including transfers, daily breakfast and easyJet flights from London Gatwick starts from £565.00 per person.