When to go

Since the Italians are vacationing in the summer, you'll find crowded beaches and sights. We have visited in late May and early June, just before the tourist season. It is warm enough to swim and with lots of space on the beaches, restaurants and attractions. We went in August. But really, any time is a good time to go to Palermo.


The Villa Igiea Hilton, Salita Belmonte 43, 90142; Palermo; 39-091-631-2141; hotelvillaigiea.com. The villa was a "health center" at the turn of the last century. Photos of dignitaries who vacationed there line the walls. The design, especially an interior dining room, is a truly wonderful example of Italian "art nouveau" decor. My treat from my husband was a room with a terrace and spectacular view of the bay of Palermo.

Centrale Palace Hotel, Via Vittorio Emanuele, 327, 90134; Palermo; 39-091-336-666; centrale@angalahotels.it. Previously we stayed in downtown Palermo at Centrale Palace Hotel. This elegant hotel is in the historic center, close to the Cathedral of Palermo and markets.


Donna Franca Florio, Salita Belmonte 43, 90142; Palermo; 39-091-631-2141; hotelvillaigiea.com. If you stay at the Villa Igiea, I recommend the restaurant there, Donna Franca Florio. The surrounding neighborhood doesn't offer much in the way of night dining, which we discovered after I insisted we venture out. We returned to the hotel and had one of best meals. We ate on the terrace, with a view of the bay. It was a beautifully presented dinner, and an innovative approach to the traditional Sicilian specialties. And it was a bit of a splurge.

Ristorante Cin Cin, Via Manin, 22, 90139; Palermo; 39-091-612-4095; ristorantecincin.com. This is the restaurant where I took the cooking lesson. We returned the next night for dinner, and it was very reasonably priced with a nice wine list. It is a charming restaurant, owned by chef Vincenzo Clemente and his mother. He also does tours of Sicily.

Don't miss

Cooking lessons, Via Villa Heloise, 42, 90143; Palermo; 39-091-347-160; divinasicilia.com. For the cooking lessons, we met Vincenzo at the Capo Mercato at midmorning at one of three open markets, with produce, seafood, and little shops and cafes along the way. Then we participated in a hands-on class in the kitchen of his restaurant. There were just four of us. His mother, who cooks with him, also gave instruction. We dined on the meal we created, with wine, and it cost 150 euros.

Cappella Palatina, Piazza Indipendenza, 90129 Palermo; 39-091-626-2833; federicosecondo.org/en/palatine-chapel.html. Built by Roger II from 1130 to 1140, the chapel is adorned with extraordinary Norman-Byzantine mosaics. Together with the palace, the chapel is the greatest attraction of Palermo and the only must-see sight for visitors with limited time. Cost: about 6 euros.

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