Home to a world-renowned opera house, botanical gardens, puppet theatres, street food and its back street boutiques; there is something to satisfy all your senses in Palermo.
Words by Monique Chambers | Extract taken from April's 2023 Il-Bizzilla Magazine | Read more here
As part of a world tour, NORMA by Vincenzo Bellini returns to Teatro Massimo from the 16th to 23rd April, directed by Ugo Giacomazzi and Luigi Di Gangi, and staged in co-production with the Arena Sferisterio of Macerata.
Visit some of the city's many art galleries and museums, with choices from the contemporary art at Villa Igiea, to the modern works at Galleria d'arte Moderna di Palazzo Riso. You must also visit the Palazzina Cinese and fathom out the incredible dumb waiter.
You can’t miss the Politeama Garibaldi. Inaugurated in 1874, even though it was without a roof at the time, the horseshoe-shaped hall has a capacity of 5,000 spectators, a double row of boxes and a gallery divided into two orders, and an entrance characterised by a triumphal neoclassical arch. A ‘politeama’ is used to describe a theatre in which shows of various kinds take place; but today this ‘politeama’ is the headquarters of the Sicilian Symphony Orchestra who have weekly performances, from which, throughout the month of April, you can hear:
• Omaggio a ligeti nel centenario della nascita
• Ciclo cross over e opera n. 3 - il flauto magico
• Omaggio a poulenc
Stay with me. Drive through the pine lined street from the city of Palermo to the seaside resort of Mondello. It is definitely worth hiring a car for this alone. The resort takes you back to the Liberty period with covetable villa after villa – and the pièce de la rèsistance is the Art Nouveau pier with changing huts. It's sweet to see people continuing the traditions of times past. Promenade along the beach and take in the sea air and perhaps stop for a gelato or Aperitivo - ‘The Hugo’ is all the rage.
Whilst I could take you around the boutiques in the backstreets at this point, I’m going to keep you entertained with more theatres.
The Teatro Biondo Stabile houses contemporary theatre, music and dance, but my personal favourite, is the opera dei pupi at the Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum near Piazza Marina. The museum is home to puppets from all over the world, with shows being performed too. You can also have a go with using a puppet from their vast collection. Once you have seen a show, you can wander the flea market which takes over the streets surrounding the monument in Piazza Marina on a Sunday morning and see examples of puppets and parts of Sicilian carts for sale.
The newest and trendiest place to enjoy an evening is the Observatory – Fine Restaurant and Mixology Rooftop bar. This divinely decorated space overlooks Monte Pellegrino and Castello Utveggio on one side, and the crown of the mountains that border the Conca d'Oro on the other, with a centre view over the roofs of the city, as well as the Politeama Garibaldi theatre. This rooftop lounge serves an upscale menu with a series of cocktails designed to complement the dishes.
There is also a glut of choices of street food from the likes of the Antica Focacceria of San Francesco. You must try the Pane con la milza / Pani câ meusa, a Sicilian bread with seasoned spleen, or visit a traditional aracineria for some famous Sicilian baked rice - and of course pasta alla Norma, which I believe, takes us full circle.
Air Malta operates regular flights to Palermo. More information on www.airmalta.com