The little surprises of Sicilia – Part I

i’m so excited to tell you guys about my trip to Sicily!!! :D i had such an awesome time there, and i totally didn’t really expect it. my idea of Sicily kept changing till the time i heard about this place, to the time i actually went there haha. there are SO MANY things to see there, which is why i’m gonna split this post into two parts – one for the sights and the other for fooooood nomnomnomz :D haha.
before going to sicily, my impression of it was that it was a beachy kind of place. but doing my research, i realised that the most convenient place to go to was Palermo (which we went to), which is a city! hmm. slightly disappointed, especially when i saw that most of the attractions on tripadvisor seemed to just be churches…but when i went there, i realised how wrong i was, and how much this beautiful city has to offer :’)
Things to do in Palermo

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the first thing that amazed me here was the sun!!! (: gosh, honestly coming from a place like Singapore has made me miss the sun so much while i’m in europe in winter -.- now i understand why people from cold countries say they love the weather in singapore hahaha. i suppose coming to sicily directly from singapore wouldnt have as much of an impact as what i just did. i LOVE the weather HERE, and i could say this a million times ^^ i always like coming to a country where the sun is bright and hot, but the air is cool and dry! perfect combi!! :) and this is exactly what sicily offers. plus the fact that there were all the palm trees around, it totally gave me the feeling of Hollywood ;) just take a stroll down Via Roma street, my favourite street in Sicily, and you’ll see what i mean :) *psst! there is even a red carpet! haha
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the thing i really enjoyed most about Palermo is that most things to see are within walking distance. of course, it helped that i stayed in the centre of city.
My advice: The location of your accommodation is very important!!! I think i mentioned this as well in my post on Lake Como. Unless you intend to drive everywhere, otherwise it’s best that you get accommodation as near to the city centre as possible (if it’s not too expensive) where most of the seen-and-be-seen places are, or at least near a metro station or some form of transport that gets you around easily. because we’ve learnt from certain trips that running for trains on a daily basis isn’t really the greatest thing to do on a holiday. haha.
so anyway, in Palermo, be prepared to walk, some places take slightly longer, but i don’t think it ever takes more than half an hour to reach places from the city centre, and you can see LOTS here ^^ it’s a beautiful place!!! please go explore!! the best thing about walking is that you unknowingly stumble upon gems which you weren’t intending to find in the first place. Fontana Pretoria (picture above) is an example of this! we just happened to be walking past and caught a glimpse of it between two buildings and went closer to explore. basked in the sunlight, it looked pretty! (: apparently sicilian’s call it the ‘fountain of shame’ though, because of all the nude sculptures haha.
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my #1 favourite place in Palermo!!!! :))))) the Palermo Cathedral :D :D omg, the moment i stepped through the gates into its grounds, i felt like i was in paradise. look at that! blue skies, green palm trees, and a magnificent building :) omgggg. i spent the longest time just standing outside taking photos heh :p and inside is quite interesting with the Arabic-Norman style church architecture that is unique to Sicily.
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this is apparently the oldest parliamentary buildilng in Sicily if i’m not wrong. and i think it’s near Palazzo del Normanni, but i’m not entirely sure (don’t quote me on this haha). anyway, Palazzo del Normanni used to be the centre of a medieval court! a ticket (€9 if i remember correctly) will get you entry into the apartment and Cappella Palatina. in my opinion, the Cappella didnt have much to see as it was pretty small, but the royal apartment was interesting! (: no pictures are allowed inside though, so no photos to show you :p
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we popped into a couple of churches along the way too! and i was really quite amazed cos i’m usually not into these churches/museums kind of thing but the churches here were really pretty! (: each church had its own character and really interesting architecture in them. i think the picture of this church above is called Chiesa Salvatore (haha not too sure because i couldnt really find a sign with the name), and another, below is Chiesa San Domenica.

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to see another face of Palermo, where the locals frequent, visit Mercato di Ballaro! it is a place throbbing with activity the whole morning till around 3pm (but it’s best to go before lunch) with stalls selling everything from vegetables, snacks, meat, seafood, fruits, cheese, olives, daily necessites etc. it’s quite nice just to walk around and the produce all looks so fresh!!!
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walking towards another side of palermo to Teatro Massimo, you’ll see the uptown, high-end area of this city :) it was really quite fascinating to visit the poorer, local haunts like the Ballaro market and the expensive region of the city all in one day. we’d actually wanted to go to Teatro Massimo in the daytime, but we thought it was quite far away. turns out that it wasnt too much of a walk (like i said, everything is within walking distance in the city centre), and i would definitely recommend that you visit this beautiful structure at night instead! i mean, it looks really good in the daytime as well, but i’m so glad that we saw it at night cos you can fully appreciate the beauty of this grand neoclassical opera house :)
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and and and omg!!!! i said that the Palermo Cathedral was my favourite place in Palermo, but this definitely vies for the coveted spot as well! in fact, this is also my top choice, not counting it as Palermo itself cos it’s kinda in the outskirts hehe ^^ Mondello beach!!!!! it’s a must visit if you’re here. look at how bright and sunny and happy this place is! :D and the water was so clear, it was soooo inviting, i wished i could have jumped in if only i’d brought my swimming attire :( this place is AMAZING. and it’s really accessible from the centre of the city! just take bus 806 (see below for info on the buses) and it’ll bring you to this beach paradise. soooo awesome ^^
Getting to and around Palermo

The fastest way to get to Palermo is, i believe, by plane. from the airport to the city centre, you can purchase tickets for the shuttle bus at the airport itself, or it is cheaper to buy them ahead of time online at http://www.prestiaecomande.it/.
Getting around Palermo, as i mentioned, is mostly possible on foot. Otherwise, for slightly further places like Mondello beach, you can buy bus tickets at 1.30€ at newspaper stands or the AMAT stands. if you can’t find one, you can purchase the tickets on the bus itself, but it is much more expensive. bus schedules and routes can be found here: http://www.amat.pa.it/.
yepp, so this are all the bests of palermo – there are lots more pretty places in Sicily to visit which i unfortunately didnt get to see (recommend any places you’ve been to before! in case i wanna go there again ;))
have fun and look out for part #2 for food! :D
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