Palermo Surroundings

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If a quiet and relaxing environment far from the city bustle is what you look for, then you should visit one of the numerous villages and resorts around Palermo, which are very beautiful and easily reachable. Palermo also offers daily connections by ferry boat and fast boats to the island of Ustica.

Just a few kilometres north of the city, on the foothills of Mount Pellegrino lies the Favorita Park, a beloved spot where the citizens of Palermo love to do pic nic in summer and at weekends. In this huge park are present traditional gardens, lawns, sport facilities and a stadium. Ferdinand III of Bourbon, king of the Two Sicilies, bought this land in 1799, and lived here for 3 years with his wife Carolina, residing in the Chinese palace which is located at the entrance of Viale Duca degli Abruzzi (bus n. 101 from the railways station until the stadium, then bus n. 614 or 645).

In the building next to the Chinese palace lies the Ethnographic Museum G. Pitrè, dedicated to the Sicilian folklore and countryside life. The museum was founded in 1909 by the ethnologist Giuseppe Pitré, and hosts a wide collection, including various sections with reconstructions of farmhouse furniture, manufactures and craftsman shaft, objects of ordinary life, testimonies of religious and magicians practices, and many clothes and music instruments. The museum is currently under restoration works, therefore only a limited area can be visited.

The majestic Mount Pellegrino separates Palermo from the Mondello Bay, and it is one of the favourite destinations for one day excursions and pic nic of the Palermitans. The mountain has been inhabited since ancient times, and on its top were found some graffiti dating back to the Paläolithikum. Some finds are now kept in the Archaeological Museum of Palermo. A classical trip for both pilgrims and simple visitors is the ascent to the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of the city. It can be reached by bus (n 812, every 30″). Though the place is invaded by gifts and souvenir shops, generating a fake atmosphere, still the sanctuary is very beautiful, partially embedded in the rock, with a trail starting from it and leading in about 40” to the mountain summit.

For sea lovers, Mondello offers an amazing sandy beach, even more amazing if you think that Mondello is a city beach, lying only half an hour from the chaotic capital Palermo (bus 806 and 833, with bus rides until late evening). In summer weekends the beach is very packed, but the water is just fantastic, and when you have enough of beach life, you can stroll around the food stands selling take away food, including pasta, grilled fish and salads, at very cheap price.

Monreale is famous for its Dome, but the town is also very beautiful, and it is pleasant to spend a day here. The Dome was ordered by the Norman king William II the Good, to compete with the Cathedral in Palermo. And maybe the sumptuousness of the Dome won over its competitor. As many other Norman buildings, the Dome is a mix of Arab, Norman and Byzantine elements. Inside it is all over covered with mosaics on a golden background, representing scenes from the Bible, and the final effect produced is of great suggestion.

Access to the tower is possible by the southwest corner of the Dome. From the top of the tower one can enjoy a stunning view over the Benedictine cloister, a beautiful classical garden surrounded by an elegant porch with 228 decorated columns. The capitals are decorated with mosaics and arabesque motifs, each different.

For all this, the Dome represents a real must-see place in your tour of the city.

Ethnographic museum G. Pitrè
  • Parco della Favorita – Viale Duca degli Abruzzi, 1
  • Tel.: 091 74 04 890/ 4
  • Opening hours: from Monday to Thursday, Saturday and Sunday: 08:30-19:30
  • Closed on Fridays.
  • Free admission for students
Dome of Monreale
  • Piazza Vittorio Emanuele – Monreale
  • Opening times:
  • Summertime: Monday to Sunday 08:00-13:00; 14:30-18,00
  • Opening times for visit of the treasury room and the terraces:
  • Monday to Friday: 09:00-12:30; 14:30-17:30
  • Sunday and bank holidays: 08:00-10:00; 14:30-17:30
The opening hours for the visit of the treasure and the terraces is subject to modifications on the occasion of liturgical events. No visits are permitted during the liturgical celebrations.
  • Opening hours of the Tower:
  • Every day: 09:30-18:00
  • Opening hours of the cloister:
  • Monday to Saturday: 09:00-19:00
  • Sunday and bank holidays: 09:00-13:00
  • How to reach
  • Bus n. 309 e 389.
  • For info: Tel.: 091 64 04 413
  • Web: http://www.cattedraledimonreale.it

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