Palermo (Sicily), Italy | Cruise port of call | CruiseBe
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Palermo (Sicily), Italy

Palermo is the capital of the main Italian island of Sicily, located on the north coast of the island.

Capital of Sicily, founded by Phoenicians under the name of "Ziz" (= Flower, but the meaning is still doubtful), later renamed by Greeks "Panormos" which means "all port", it reached its golden age during the Arab domination (IX-XI centuries A.C.) when it became one of the most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean and Europe, known as "city of delights" for its marvelous and lavish gardens, as well as for magnificent mosques and palaces. After being conquered by the Normans (1060-1080 A.C.), most of palaces and mosques were destroyed, but the new rulers exploited the cosmopolitan environment of Palermo and the artists, architects, and masters from different cultural roots giving the birth to a unique architectural style, the so-called "Arab-Norman Style of Sicily", which is an original mixture of arabesque... Read more

Palermo (Sicily), Italy


Palermo is the capital of the main Italian island of Sicily, located on the north coast of the island.

Capital of Sicily, founded by Phoenicians under the name of "Ziz" (= Flower, but the meaning is still doubtful), later renamed by Greeks "Panormos" which means "all port", it reached its golden age during the Arab domination (IX-XI centuries A.C.) when it became one of the most prosperous cities in the Mediterranean and Europe, known as "city of delights" for its marvelous and lavish gardens, as well as for magnificent mosques and palaces. After being conquered by the Normans (1060-1080 A.C.), most of palaces and mosques were destroyed, but the new rulers exploited the cosmopolitan environment of Palermo and the artists, architects, and masters from different cultural roots giving the birth to a unique architectural style, the so-called "Arab-Norman Style of Sicily", which is an original mixture of arabesque decorations, Romanesque architecture and Byzantine mosaics. After being home to one of the most famous Emperors of the Middle Ages, Frederik II fo Swabi, named "Stupor Mundi" by contemporaries, Palermo began its decadence under the influence of several dominations (French, Aragonians, Spanish and Borbons from Naples. In the mid of XIX century, during the so-called "Italian Risorgimento" Palermo was one the leading revolutionary cities in Italy, strongly contributing to the success of the "Mille" (literally "one thousand") patriots' expedition lead by the famous Italian national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi which ended with the reunification of Italy under the Savoy dynasty from Turin (1860). Nowadays Palermo faces several problems affecting its economic development, mainly because of the presence of the very powerful criminal organization known worldwide as "Mafia" or "Cosa Nostra". The city's economy is based on local government institutions, port, shipbuilding industry, and the mechanical industry. It is also seat to some important Sicilian winemaking companies (like Tasca d'Almerita, Duca di Salaparuta, Corvo, Planeta, etc.) whose popularity in the world is growing.

Palermo experiences a hot-summer Mediterranean climate that is mild with moderate seasonality. Summers are hot and dry due to the domination of the subtropical high-pressure system, while winters experience moderate temperatures and changeable, rainy weather due to the polar front. Temperatures in autumn and spring are usually mild. Palermo is one of the warmest cities in Europe (mainly due to its warm nights), with an average annual air temperature of 18.5 °C (65.3 °F).

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Palermo (Sicily), Italy: Port Information

Cruise ships dock at Stazione Marittima not far from the very heart of the city. Lots of attractions are nearby, and you can easily reach them on foot.
Although the terminal is small, it has everything you need.
There is free shuttle service to the center.
Besides, there are many taxis and horse carts outside the terminal.

Get around Palermo (Sicily), Italy

On foot

Although Palermo is a fair-sized city, most of the interesting sites around the center can easily be reached on foot.

By bus

Get a 24-hour ticket. Many buses run on Via Roma. To go to Pl Indipendenza, take bus 109 from the station.


What to see in Palermo (Sicily), Italy

Because of its variety of monuments, attesting to its long and rich history, and the number of other cultural and naturalistic attractions, Palermo can offer a very interesting experience to the visitor interested in exploring it. The Cathedral of Monreale, the

Royal Palace


Palatine Chapel

, the

Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti

, the Church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, the Church of San Catalado, the Palermo Cathedral, the Zisa Palace and the Admiral’s Bridge, comprise together with the cathedral in Cefalù the world heritage site “Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale”. 
  • Cathedral. Honey-colored and Catalan influenced. Frederick II, Barbarossa's son, died in 1250 and is buried here, far from his ancestral home above Hohenstaufen, Germany. Frederick's sarcophagus is of porphyry dyed with imperial purple.
  • Quattro Canti - the symbolic crossroads at the old center of the city and the nearby small, but pretty La Martorana church with Byzantine mosaics inside.
  • Museo Archeologico.
  • Catacombe dei Cappuccini, open daily 9 AM-12 noon and 3 PM-5 PM. The catacombs of the Capuchin convent located on the Piazza Cappuccini, just west of the city center, contain over 8000 mummified ex-residents from Palermo and its surrounding villages, some merely clothed skeletons, other remarkably well-preserved and lifelike. Well worth a visit, interesting, if slightly morbid. Children may either find it exciting or terrifying and it must be the responsibility of their parents to think carefully before taking them.
  • Palazzo dei Normanni. Inside, don't miss the mosaics in the Cappella Palatina and the old Royal Apartments.
  • street markets, especially near the Piazza del Carmine and Vucciria. At the Ballaro there is a huge variety of fresh fruits on offer.
  • Piazza Garraffello near Vucciria on Friday nights a DJ is playing open air if the weather is good. Huge crowd dancing. There are also lots of bars right next to the square.
  • Piazza Pretoria, including the Fontana Pretoria
  • The Gesu Church is one of the most architecturally important in Palermo. Constructed between 1564–1633, it's a late date of completion resulted in an abundant use of polychrome marbles on both floors and walls. This form of decoration, which gradually evolved in Sicily from the beginning of the 17th century, was a mark of the beginning of the Sicilian Baroque period, which was to give Sicily almost an architectural national identity. Note that the church has a modest facade and is hidden in a back street in central Palermo, unlike the great cathedral this one you have to look for.
  • San Giovanni degli Eremiti, ☎ +39 91 6515019. Via dei Bernadetti. Old church ruin and nice garden. The lovely garden is quiet and peaceful. Open mo-sa 9 AM-7 PM.
  • Cappella Palatina, ☎ +39 091 7054317. Piazza Indipendenza. Chapel with mosaics. It's one of the artistic gems of Palermo, magnificent mosaics and Arabian-style decorations, among the most beautiful in the world. Open mo-fr 9-11.45 AM and 3-4:45 PM. Sa 9-11:45 AM. Su 9-9:45 AM, 12-12:45 PM.
  • The Zisa and the Cuba, Arabic-Norman royal palaces. The Zisa is in Piazza Zisa; Cuba in Corso Calatafimi.
  • Monreale - a village/suburb 8 km west of Palermo, sitting on the hill with a great view back towards the city and the sea. Be sure to visit the Duomo (Cathedral) and its cloisters too.

What to do in Palermo (Sicily), Italy

  • Occhio al boma (, ☎ 0039368489694. On the Sailboat cruise, there is an opportunity for sightseeing, snorkeling, drinking, eat, sunbathing. The staff is very friendly, helpful and patient. Departure from Palermo to Mondello, Sferracavallo, Isola dele Femmine, Porticello

  • Serie A Football: Unione Sportiva Città di Palermo SpAhtd, Stadio Renzo Barbera (c. 5km north of the Central Station, take bus 101 or 107 from the Central Station or along the route). Most of the year (except Summer). A great experience when visiting Palermo is an evening at the Stadio Renzo Barbera supporting the "Rosanero" (The Pink-blacks). Palermo has been in the top flight of Italian football (Serie A) since 2004 and regularly play host to giants of the Italian game, including Roma, Lazio, Inter, Milan, and Juve. Not just good football, but also a good night out under the stars with flags waving and the local fans in fine voice. Full fixture lists can be found on the club website. Tickets can also be purchased on the club website or at a range of outlets around town. The easiest place for those with limited Italian to buy tickets is probably the official club store (Via Maqueda, 397 Palermo) where English is well spoken.

What to eat and drink in Palermo (Sicily), Italy


Try specialties of Palermo like panino con la milza or panelle, in one of the many sandwich stands in the old city center.

  • Antica Focacceria S. Francesco, Via A Paternostro, 58 (In the small piazza in front front of S. Francecso church). 11 am to 3.30 pm, 5,30 to 11.30 pm. A deservedly popular top quality restaurant serving fine Sicilian food in the open air. Bookings recommended at weekends.
  • Il Proverbio, ☎ +39 091 6173267. Via Discesa 24. Close to station and Quattro Canti. Great Sicilian food.
  • Al Chioschetto. Pz. Indipendenza Di Fronte N. 31. Close to the new gate. Excellent fresh panini and salads. They keep all the ingredients in a cooled glass counter, makes the panini from scratch when you order, using only freshly cut pieces of meat.
  • Le pergamene, Piazza Marina 48 (near of the Palazzo chiaramonte steri), ☎ +39 091 6166142.
  • Pizza Gaetano, Via XII Gennaio, 1/Q, ☎ +39 091 6014544. Authentic pizza and pasta dishes. Not touristy at all.
  • Pipi Room, V. XX Settembre 59. Antipasto, pizzas, etc. 
  • Antico Caffé Spinnato, Via Principe di Belmonte 107/115, ☎ +39 091329220.
  • Osteria dei Vespri, Piazza Croce dei Vespri 6, ☎ +39 091617631. Mon to Sat 12-15, 18-24.
  • Paticceria Capello, Via Nicolo Garzili 10, ☎ +39 0916113769. Thu to Tue 7-22, Wed closed.
  • Pasticceria Capello, Via Colonna Rotta 58, ☎ +39 091489601. Thu to Tue 7-22, Wed closed.
  • Trattoria al Piccolo Napoli, Piazetta Mulino a Vento 4, ☎ +39 091320431.


  • Enoteca Picone, Via Marconi 36, ☎ +39 091331300.​

Shopping in Palermo (Sicily), Italy

  • Isola Saporita, ☎ +39 091 6527506. Corso Vittorio Emanuele 504 (opposite the cathedral). Good selection of wine, oil, marmalade, sauces, etc.
  • The "Pizzo free" shops are a group of shopkeepers that refuse to pay the racket to the Mafia. Palermitan consumers sustain them by going shopping in their stores. These shops are easily recognizable by a sticker in the shop/restaurant window. 
  • Mercato di Ballarò, Via Ballarò, Piazze de Carmine. Mon, Tue, Thu to Sat 7-20, Wed 7-13. Busy food market in Albergheria.
  • La Coppola Storta, Via Bara all'Olivella 74, ☎ +39 091324428. This cap, originally of Sicilian peasants and later of the Mafia, has become a stylish accessory.

Safety in Palermo (Sicily), Italy

Beware of pickpockets and motorcycle-riding snatch thieves targeting handbags, wallets and mobile phones.
Women should not walk alone at night in the historical center of Palermo and travelers could be wary of La Kalsa, the neighborhood between Via Roma and the water, at night. The area is being renewed and gentrified but is probably still one of the riskier places to be at night.
Vehicle theft is a major problem in Palermo, so the use of private, secure car parks is to be preferred.
Avoid going outside the city center, except for Mondello (beach and clubs), Sferracavallo (great restaurants), Monreale.

Language spoken in Palermo (Sicily), Italy

The language in Palermo is Italian, but in touristic spots, you can use English.


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The Palazzo dei Normanni (in English, Palace of the Normans) or Royal Palace of Palermo is a palace in Palermo, Italy. It was the seat of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and served afterwards as the main seat of power for the subsequent rulers of Sicily. Seat of the Sicilian Parliament, today it is the seat of the Sicilian...
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Average: 9.2 (10 votes)

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Average: 9.1 (10 votes)

The Chiesa di San Cataldo is a Catholic church of the Sicilian city of Palermo, on the central Piazza Bellini, belonging to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. It is a notable example of the Arab-Norman architecture which flourished in Sicily under the Norman domination of the island. The church is annexed to that of Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio....

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Palermo, Main City In Sicily

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