In late May/early June, John and I were lucky enough to spend three magical weeks in Sicily–from Palermo and Cefalu to Taormina, Ragusa, Noto, and Modica. We had been to chic Taormina several years ago–but only for the day as an excursion from the small cruise line that was carrying us around the Mediterranean–but hadn’t explored any other regions of this magical island that has been under the control of so many different cultures and nations.
Our first stop was Sicily’s largest city, Palermo, and we flew in from London via British Airways after our tour of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. We rented an amazing apartment via AirBnB near Palermo’s busy waterfront, and the apartment’s lemon tree-filled rooftop terrace proved the perfect tonic after long afternoons spent exploring this wonderful, rough-and-tumble, crumbling, magical city. Palermo lacks the polish and glorious vistas of, say, Taormina, but we loved the city’s hardscrabble, jolie-laide nature.
Here, a few snaps from our Palermo tour…
The view from the magical apartment that we rented in the historic waterfront Kalsa district of bustling, buzzy Palermo. The city is chock-a-block full of crumbling churches and palaces: Here, a view from our apartment’s lush, plant-filled terrace onto the Baroque Church of Santa Maria della Pieta in Kalsa that dates from the 17th century.
John and I are mad for the fabled Sicilian lemons, and the lemon trees upon the terrace of our Kalsa neighborhood apartment certainly didn’t disappoint. We used plenty of these sun-kissed fruits in the myriad cocktails we prepared at the end of each day.
John kicks back on the terrace of our sun-dappled apartment in Palermo (we slept in a tad–rare for us!). We are big fans of renting apartments when we travel as we love to cook and really “reside” in a city. We spend a lot of time before we set off finding apartments that are not only beautifully situated but that boast terrific design and thoughtful, intuitive details. Our Palermo apartment was $175 per night and so much more fun that staying in a run-of-the-mill, cramped hotel.
Palermo is a terrific walking city–and besides, Uber is non-existent on the island. Egads! A few blocks from our apartment was the amazing Fontana Pretoria, a 16th-century multi-spout, three-tier fountain that features statues of mythological creatures.
After an amazing first day in Palermo, we were well deserving of potent cocktails laden with the likes of Aperol and limoncello. Cin, cin!
Sicily boasts amazing street food, including “arancina,” stuffed rice balls filled with the likes of meat and other sundries that are coated with breadcrumbs then deep fried. Cheap and cheerful. Other typical street-food options in Palermo include the “panelle,” a chickpea sandwich, and the “pane con la milza,” a spleen sandwich. Let’s just say that we skipped the “milza” and settled in for a glass of rosé.