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Palermo (Sicily), Italy

Palermo is a cultural feast, a fascinating combination of East and West that is unlike any other European city on the Mediterranean. A simple stroll can serve to illustrate Palermo's rich heritage. The Quattro Canti is the great square at the heart of the city. A short walk past its 17th-century palazzos and fountains brings the traveler to the Palazzo dei Normanni, where elaborate tile work and mosaics showcase Islamic and Byzantine influences. The city abounds in such colorful sights, from the neo-classical Teatro Massimo — one of the largest opera houses in Europe — to the catacombs beneath the Capuchin convent, where thousands of mummified bodies lie in eternal rest.

  • Venture beyond Palermo (but don’t miss Palermo!) to Monreale’s Duomo, an artfully adorned cathedral.
  • Scope some of over 600 types of trees (and 30 types of birds) at the postcard-perfect Zingaro Natural Reserve.
  • Look up at the 19th-century Teatro Politeama, whose dramatic rooftop sculptures practically put on a show of their own.