Whether we gaze at its Mediterranean sky or look at its little port streets where venerable buildings stand alongside a past greatness, Palermo evokes many things, starting with the whole of Sicily which it embodies to perfection with its historical buildings that house the finest architectural styles.
You'll be amazed at the opulence of the Palatine Chapel in the Palazzo dei Normanni, but it's nothing compared to the splendor of the Church of the Martorana. A decorative Byzantine jewel of Sicilian tranquility that, like a caress, opens up a sun-drenched path to the Teatro Massimo.
This church, one of Palermo's "must-visit" places, plays its role sensuously, with the neighboring square, Piazza Pretoria and its fountain, lavishly guarded by numerous statues. A stop at Teatro Massimo puts you right in the heart of Italian nineteenth century splendor. A place that's legendary throughout all of Europe, whose old-fashioned elegance makes your spine tingle with its 1,350 seats spread out among a colony of gilded balconies.
But the real Palermo is mostly discovered when you move away from the edge of the city and head out to a countryside where the divine seems to have taken up residence. It's fair to say that you'll actually find yourself believing in the muses and myths of ancient Rome as you explore the wild coves of Ustica, the little volcanic island off the coast of Palermo. As a mecca for diving, this cocoon of turquoise waters and beaches sheltered by gentle granite coves, is an ode to the traveler's well-being and pleasure.
However, it's by taking the path up to Mount Pellegrino, just as Palermo's inhabitants have for centuries, that you truly appreciate the depth of this region, inhabited for many thousands of years. Since the twelfth century, the Sicilians have come here to stroll through the nature reserve surrounded by the waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Topped by this limestone mountain and the sanctuary of St. Rosalia, its view over Palermo and its steep hills are sure to meet all your expectations of splendor and grace.