Provinz Palermo  


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Capo-Markt Palermo
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In the province of Palermo, and especially in the city of Palermo, a wide range of captivating museums, impressive churches and oratories, beautiful parks and much more can be found. In the following, you can find a few suggestions for tours I can offer you as you discover Palermo. If you are interested in exploring not just Palermo but also the province surrounding it, don’t hesitate to get in touch to arrange some extra tours. At the end of this page you can find a list of attractions that can be included in the sightseeing programme. If you are not only interested in museums, but also in the everyday life of Sicilians, I can organize a visit to a cheese dairy, a wine cellar, a puppet theatre performance, a gala dinner or reception in a noble palace with representatives of the local aristocracy, Sicilian cooking lessons, meetings with activists from the anti-mafia movement and similar exciting events.

Highlights in Palermo and Province

1. Classic Sightseeing Tour of Palermo: ‘Traditional’ Walking Tour through the Centro Storico (4hrs)
Our tour through the old town leads us from the baroque square Quattro Canti to the Pretoria Palace (from the outside) with its Pretoria Fountain, and to the delightful Norman churches La Martorana and San Cataldo. After this, we stroll through the colourful Ballarò market to the cathedral, where we visit Frederick II of Staufen and his relatives. The tour is rounded off by a visit to the old Norman Royal Palace. Its courtyard chapel Guy De Maupassant rightly regarded as one of the true gems of Palermo.

2. Sightseeing Tour Palermo and Monreale: In the Footsteps of Normans and Swabians (8hrs)
In a stroll through the old town we get to know the historical centre of Palermo – with the Quattro Canti, the Piazza Pretoria and the medieval churches La Martorana and San Cataldo. This is followed by the impressive baroque church of Il Gesù, the picturesque Ballarò market, and on to the Royal Palace of the Normans, where we visit the richly decorated courtyard chapel. After this, we take the coach to the neighbouring town of Monreale, visiting the magnificent Norman cathedral with its impressive Byzantine mosaics. In the enchanted cloister of the former Benedictine monastery we will try to decipher the mysterious metaphorical language of the columns’ capitals. The tour finishes with a visit to Zisa, the erstwhile summer residence of the Norman kings, built by the Arabs.

3. Sightseeing Tour Palermo by Night. Fascinating Atmosphere in the Old Harbour Town in the Evening (4hrs)
You will realize what a special atmosphere Palermo has at night. Our walk takes us from today’s city centre, the Piazza Politeama to the illuminated opera house Teatro Massimo. On the way, we stop in a charming pedestrian area and have a delicious gelato (ice cream). We carry on through the Capo quarter with its aged churches, on to the cathedral, which, illuminated during the night, is even more impressive than by day. The tour takes us through the Albergheria quarter past numerous old palaces to the Piazza Pretoria, and on to Piazza Marina, a lively meeting point of local revellers. From here, we only have to walk a few steps to the seaside promenade Foro Italico, and we will end our tour in a very charming bar built into the old town walls.

4. Sightseeing Tour Archaeological Palermo: Highlights of the Ancient World (4hrs)
One of the most impressive museums of Sicily is the Archaeological Museum of Palermo, showing important exhibits from the Phoenician, Greek and Roman periods of the island. Most prominent are the world famous Metopes of Selinunte which we will take time to study in detail. The Phoenician and Roman sculptures and Greek vases will be given plenty of attention, too. After this, we walk past the Teatro Massimo and the picturesque Capo Market to the impressive, freshly restored early Christian catacombs close to the Porta d’Ossuna. We then walk along the remains of the ancient town walls to the park Villa Bonanno, the oldest part of Palermo. The tour finishes there, at the remains of some ancient Roman town houses. 

5. Baroque Palermo: Magnificent Churches and Oratories (4hrs)
During the baroque period, church and nobility did not exactly lack money, which is why in this time numerous, incredibly opulent churches, oratories and monasteries were built. In our baroque walking tour, we are enchanted by the magnificent stucco works of the Master Giacomo Serpotta, often described as the Bernini of Palermo. We start at the oratory Santa Cita, taking in Serpotta’s early master piece The Battle of Lepanto. We continue to the oratory of the Holy Rosary at the Dominican church. This not only contains Serpotta sculptures, but also a painting of the Flemish master Anton van Dyck depicting The Holy Mother and Saints. Crossing the Vucciria market, we reach the oratory of San Lorenzo, a gem of the baroque art of decoration. The tour concludes with a visit to the Jesuit church Il Gesù, which is often hailed as the most magnificient of all baroque churches in Sicily. 

6. Palermo’s History of Art: Great Art in Medieval Palaces (4hrs)
This walking tour takes us from the seaside promenade Foro Italico through the Kalsa quarter to Palazzo Abatellis, a magnificent gothic palace, chosen by Wim Wenders as the main filming location for his Palermo Shooting. It houses the most important art historical collection of Palermo with masterpieces from the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, Mannerism and Baroque. We take a look at the famous fresco Triumph of Death that once inspired Picasso. Our tour continues with Eleonora d’Aragona, one of the most artfully crafted portrait busts of the Renaissance sculptor Francesco Laureana. Following a number of medieval panels, we continue with the world famous Annunziata painting of Antonello da Messina. In the Flemish Renaissance Paintings section, Mabuse’s Malvagna Triptychon provides the highlight. At the end we pay a visit to the newer wings of the museum with mannerist and baroque paintings, including works by Simon Vouet, Giovan Battista Caracciolo, Anton Van Dyck, Jusepe De Ribera, Mathias Stomer, Mattia Preti and Luca Giordano. After a short coffee break we walk to Piazza Marina to visit the Inquisition Palace. In the former prison cells of the Spanish Inquisition, the numerous graffiti of the inmates can still be viewed. Of course we also take time for Renato Guttuso’s famous Vucciria painting as well as the Hall of Barons with its fantastically painted medieval wood ceiling.

7. Palermo Botanical: Picturesque Parks and Gardens (4hrs)
Our botanical excursion starts at the magnificent Botanical Garden, where we can not only see numerous exotic plants and trees, but also a clutch of free roaming green parrots. Those who feel like it go on to the neighbouring Villa Giulia, another pretty park, or relax with a Cappucino in a nice little café. After this we stroll through the colourful Ballaro market, the Alberghia quarter with its medieval aristocratic palaces und the park Villa Bonanno, to the Arabian and Norman church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, where we admire the pretty garden and little covered walk of the monastery.
8. Palermo folkloristic: Sicilian Customs and Traditions
Our folkloristic tour starts with the catacombs of the capuchin, where for centuries the corpses of monks, but also of noblemen and –women and townspeople have been dried up, conserved and exhibited for posterity. However, we are not there to give ourselves the creeps, but rather to look into the ways Sicilians have traditionally been dealing with death. We continue across the lively Ballaro market and get a taste of some delicious panelle, essential to Sicilian cuisine. The walk takes us further to Piazza Marina and the marionette museum, which keeps the traditional Sicilian puppet show alive. After admiring the colourful puppets and theatre stages, we walk on to Palazzo Mirto which offers some contrast to the culture of ordinary people: The formerly aristocratic palace shows the luxurious lifestyle of the erstwhile Palermo aristocracy.


Main Sightseeing Attractions in Palermo Province

Villa Cattolica
Beautiful baroque Villa, housing the Gattuso painting Museum.

Villa Palagonia
Beautiful baroque Villa with bizarre stone sculptures. Goethe was famously impressed.

Magnificent Norman building with beautiful Byzantine mosaics.

Museo Mandralisca
Town museum, most important exhibit is the Effigy of a Stranger by Antonello da Messina.

Centro Internazionale di Documentazione sulle Mafie e del Movimento Antimafia (CIDMA)
The Antimafia documentation centre is located close to the city hall. It hosts court records of the so-called "maxi trial" against the mafia and many photos about mafia and anti-mafia topics.

Magnificent Norman building with beautiful Byzantine mosaics.

Benedictine Cloister
Picturesque covered walkway with impressive Romanic capitals.

Excavations of a Punic-Roman town.

The beautiful volcanic island, once a shelter for pirates, is situated 60 kilometers off the coast of Palermo. Ustica can be reached in less than two hours by hydrofoil boat from Palermo. It is a paradise not only for divers and snorkelers, but also for cyclists (bikes can be rented) and hikers.


Palermo City: Main Sightseeing Attractions

Churches and Oratories

Cappella Palatina
Courtyard chapel in the former Norman Royal Palace, magnificent Byzantine mosaics and beautifully painted Arabian Muqarna ceiling.

Impressive building from the Norman era, burial place of Norman and Stauffer kings and emperors.

Chiesa della Immacolata Concezione
Baroque church in the centre of the Capo market with beautiful marble and stucco works.

Chiesa della Magione
Former monasterial church from the Norman era with impressive covered walkway adjacent.

Chiesa della Martorana
Byzantine cupola church from the Norman era with beautiful mosaics.

Chiesa di Casa Professa
This Jesuit church is one of the most magnificent baroque churches in Palermo with precious marble inlays.

Chiesa di Sant’Agostino
Augustine monastery church with adjacent covered walkway.

Chiesa di San Cataldo
Little, Arabic-inspired private church from the Norman era.

Chiesa di San Francesco D’Assisi
Pretty Franciscan church from the Norman era.

Chiesa di San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Profanised church from the Norman era with an adjacent covered walkway and garden.

Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico
Baroque oratory with beautiful stucco works.

Oratorio di Santa Cita
Baroque oratory with beautiful stucco works.

Oratorio di San Lorenzo
Baroque oratory with beautiful stucco works.

Oratorio di S. Caterina d’Alessandria
Baroque oratory with beautiful stucco works.

Castles and Palace

Castello a Mare
Ruins of a castle from the Norman era, directly at the harbour front.

Castello della Zisa
Former summer residence of the Normans.

Catacombe Cappuccini
Burial site of the Capuchin Convent, very impressive are the mummies on display.

Catacomba paleocristiana di Porta d’Ossuna
Expansive early Christian catacombs.

Ruins of an old Arabic-Norman summer residence.

Teatro Massimo
Neo-classicists opera house with Art Nouveau decoration inside.

Palazzo Aiutami Cristo
Medieval aristocratic Palace.

Palazzo Arcivescovile
Palais of the Archbishop, housing the diocesan museum.

Palazzo Chiaramonte o Steri
Medieval palace, long serving as Inquisition palace.

Palazzo Gravina di Comitini
Baroque aristocratic palace.

Palazzo Mirto
Aristocratic palace with furniture, porcelain, tapestry and frescos.

Palazzo Reale o dei Normanni
Former Norman Royal Palace, containing the famous courtyard chapel of King Roger.

Palazzo Pretoria o delle Aquile
Palermo’s City Hall.

Palazzo Sclafani
Former medieval aristocratic palace.

Santuario Santa Rosalia
Sanctuary of the town’s patron saints on the Monte Pellegrino.

Lo Spasimo
Ruin of a medieval monasterial church.

Galleria d’Arte Moderna (Ex convento S. Anna)
Collection of paintings, housed in a former monastery.

Palazzo Abatellis/Galleria Regionale Siciliana
Former medieval aristocratic palace containing the most important art museum of the city.

Museo Archeologico Regionale “Antonio Salinas”
Archaeological museum containing the famous Metopes of Selinunt.

Museo Etnografico Giuseppe Pitrè
Ethnografic museum.

Museo Mormino (Arte Archeologica)
Museum with archaeological collection.

Museo Internazionale delle Marionette
Puppet and marionette museum.

Palazzo Belmonte Riso
This former palace contains a collection of modern art.

Gardens and Parks

Villa Bonanno

Villa Garibaldi

Villa Giulia

Villa Niscemi

Villa Trabia

Giardino Inglese

Orto Botanico

Parco d’Orleans


Sightseeing Palermo


Dr. Anita Bestler