36 Hours in Palermo, Italy: Things to Do and See
By Seth SherwoodUpdated Aug. 17, 2023
“Sicily is not Italy,” reads stenciled graffiti around Palermo, a sign that some in the Sicilian capital view the city as both a physical and cultural outlier from the mainland. Influenced by Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman and Spanish conquerors, the port city has long been known for its distinctive dialect, original street food, medieval churches, faded Baroque buildings and — less happily — a historical association with the Mafia. But recent years have seen remarkable developments: Ambitious restaurants, a crop of natural wine bars and compelling new museums have upped the profile and allure of Palermo, whose historical intrigue and low prices (relative to north and central Italy) remain largely intact. These places also provide refuges from the heat — Palermo has had a scorching summer that ignited deadly wildfires, now under control, around the region.
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