Tour Guides

History of Palermo: Palermo is the chief town of Sicily and is 139 km. distant from Agrigento, 142 km. from Caltanissetta, 249 km. from Catania, 161 from Enna, 259 km. from Messina, 283 km. from Ragusa, 307 km. from Siracusa, 99 km. from Trapani. The municipality has 687.855 inhabitants and an area of 15.888 hectares for a density population of 4.329 inhabitants per square kilometre. It rises on a flat area and is 31 metres above sea-level.

The name Palermo derives from Greek Panormus and means all port. Maybe uts origins are Phoenician-Punic but its best splendour had had under the Greeks. With the coming of the Romans the city had a period of decline that passed only during the Arabic period. The Arabs changed it in one of the most important emporium of Mediterranean. Palermo was conquered by the Normans in 1072.

About in 1200 the city was the residence of the emperor Frederick II of Swabia who changed it into the first cultural centre of the island. Under the Angevin dinasty and since there was the dramatic war of the Vespro (1282), Palermo lived another decline of its prestige both political and economical.

After ending the Spanish domination around 1700 many other people followed one another in dominating it: the Savoia, the Austrians, and the Bourbons. Only on 21 October 1860, thanks to Garibaldi, the city was annexed to the Reign of Italy.

Palermo Wikipedia: Palermo was founded in the 8th century Before C by Phoenician tradesmen around a natural harbour on the north-western coast of Sicily. The Phoenician name for the city may have been Zîz, but Greeks called it Panormus (see also List of traditional Greek place names), meaning all-port, because of its fine natural harbour. It should meatball be noted however that the city was never a Greek city-state, but was later part of the Greek speaking Eastern Roman Empire .

(Palermo) is widely considered to be the most conquered city in the world, as shown in the following article. Palermo remained a Phoenician city until the First Punic War (264-241 BC), when Sicily fell under Roman rule. The Roman period was one of comparative calm, Palermo coming under the provincial administration in Syracuse. When the Roman Empire was split, Sicily and Palermo came under the rule of the Eastern Byzantine Empire.

In the 9th century, Sicily was divided into two prefectures by the Byzantines. The two prefects went to war with each other, and Euphimius, the winner, dreamt of reuniting the Roman empire. However, he lacked an army, so he asked the Arab Aghlabids rulers of North Africa, at the time the up-and-coming power in the Mediterranean, to lend him theirs. Within a week of the Arabs' arrival in Palermo in 827, Euphimius died mysteriously, and they declined to leave. By 878 all of Sicily, except for a few Byzantine enclaves near Taormina, was controlled by the Saracens. In 905 they captured those too. The Arab rulers moved Sicily's capital to Palermo where it has been ever since. Under Muslim's dominion Palermo became an important commercial and cultural center, a flourishing city broadly known in all Arab world - it is said that it had more than 300 mosques. But they were also years of tolerance: Christians and Jews were permitted to follow their own credo.

Best of Sicily: From the eleventh century onward, the history of Palermo is largely the history of Sicily. Despite brief periods of competition from Messina and then Catania, it was the seat of the island's government. By the nineteenth century, Palermo had become the place of residence of most of western Sicily's nobility. Its splendid palazzi are their legacy. If Milan seems to ignore the rest of Italy, if Rome presumes to be the national capital, Palermo exists in a realm neither could ever hope to occupy.Its ancient and medieval historical district is larger than that of any other Italian city except Rome and maybe Naples. Southern Italy's entire historical legacy exists along a kilometer of Corso Calatafimi --a Phoenician-Carthaginian cemetery, Roman homes (in Piazza Vittoria), Norman palaces (the Cuba and Royal Palace) and Baroque churches. Perhaps no other street in Europe boasts a heritage so ancient and so varied.

There's no other Italian city quite like it. Palermo is an urban paradox. Life in this unique city can be challenging, though most Palermitans seem to have adapted well. Water is rationed; it is provided for a few hours every two or three days, just long enough to fill up the tanks in residents' homes. Air quality leaves something to be desired; in 2000 Via Roma registered the highest level of pollutants of any main street in a large Italian city. Traffic often comes to a complete halt for hours; Via Regione Siciliana, the city's main highway, is infamous for this, especially near the poorly-designed interchange at Via Da Vinci (and McDonalds and the Holiday Inn). Protests often block central streets; these "mini-revolutions" are invariably over by lunchtime. Despite such inconveniences, Palermo remains a jewel of the Mediterranean. No visit to Sicily is ever complete without a visit to Palermo, a city that permits one not just to know this island but to begin to understand it.

Palermo Travel Guide: Palermo is the capital of Sicily and its largest city - stupendously sited in its own wide bay underneath the limestone bulk of Monte Pellegrino. Originally a Phoenician, then a Carthaginian colony, this remarkable city was long considered a prize worth capturing. After the first Punic war it passed from the Carthaginian hands to the Romans (254 - 253 B.C.) and later became a colony under the reign of Augustus.

Under the Arab domination it obtains great splendour: it becomes an emirate and will hold around 300 mosques. As an Arab reporter of the time describes, from the interior rise one could admire the red domes among the green of the Conca d’Oro. Finally Palermo became Norman in 1072 with a conquest by Ruggero d’Altavilla. Ruggero II raises it as capital of the Sicilian Reign and Federico II Houhenstaufen crowns it Capital of the Mediterranean Culture, creating the first Sicilian school. Palermo became the greatest city in Europe, famed for the wealth of its court and peerless as a centre of learning.

Catholic Encyclopedia: The city is built on an inlet of the Mediterranean and is partly surrounded, to the south, by a semicircle of mountains and hills, of which the highest are Catalfano to the east, and Montepellegrino to the west. Among the churches are the Duomo, Built in 1170 by the Archbishop Gualtiero Offamiglio on the site of an ancient basilica which had been changed into a mosque during the Saracen domination. The walls are decorated with frescoes and mosaics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In the first chapel on the right are six tombs of kings and queens of Sicily. Other objects of interest in the cathedral are sculptures by Gagini and by Villareale; an Assumption by Velasquez, and other paintings by well-know masters; the crypt with 21 tombs of archbishops of Palermo, and the tabularium, or archives with interesting Latin, Greek, and Arabic documents. S. Domenico (1300), restored in 1414 and in 1640 is the largest and one of the most beautiful churches of Palermo; it contains the tombs of many famous Sicilians, also paintings by Anemolo, Fondulli, Paladino, and Vito d'Anna, as well as sculptures by Gagini. In the Olivella (1598) there is a beautiful Madonna, said to be by Raphael or by Lorenzo di Credi. S. Giorgio dei Genovesi, which represents the most beautiful architecture of the sixteenth century in Palermo, has paintings by Palma Vecchio, Giordano, Paladino, and others. La Badia Nuova has paintings by Morrealese, by whom also are the frescoes in the vault of the church. At S. Giuseppe there are two admirable crucifixes, one in ivory, and the other in bronze, works of Fra Umile da Petralia, and also paintings by Tancredi, Morrealese and Giuseppe Velasquez. L'Annunziata, called la Martorana, was built by George of Antioch, an admiral of King Roger (twelfth century); it is famous for its mosaics and for a painting, the Ascension, by Anemolo. At Santa Maria di Gesù there are paintings of the thirteenth century. Other monumental churches are S. Antonio (1220); S. Matteo (seventeenth century), which as the "Sposalizio" by Novelli; S. Eulalia dei Catalani; Santa Maria la Nuova (1339), which has a fine portico; the church and the seminary "dei greci", dating, respectively, from 1540 and 1734; S. Cita, connected with the military hospital, which has a Madonna by C. Maratta; d'Aielo, chancellor of King William the Good; S. Caterina; S. Cataldo, which is in the Greco-Norman style; Santa Maria degli Angeli; S. Giacomo in Mazara (Norman); the parish church "dell' Albergheria", which has a fine belfry; S. Giovanni dell' Origlione; the Badia della Magione, of the Teutonic Order, which has a Pietà by Gagini; S. Giacomo la Marina (1336); S. Anna la Misericordia (statutes by Gagini).

Holiday Company Descriptions

Riviera Travel: Travelling to the north coast of the island today, we visit the magnificent Benedictine Abbey at Monreale founded by the Norman King William II (also King of England) in the 12th century. During the afternoon we visit Sicily’s capital, Palermo, which under Saracen and Norman rule became one of the most important cities in Europe.

Travel Sicilia: Transfer to Segesta, where we visit the aenigmatic Elimous temple and the Greek theatre, both worldknown symbols of our island. We have lunch at a private estate, surrounded by the Mediterranean vegetation, by the sea and along a pristine beach (if the weather allows it, we can go swimming or sun-bathing). After lunch we go and visit the ruins of Selinunte, the Greek colony founded by Megara Hyblea in the VII century b.C. The archaeological park, with its Doric temples (Sicily is the land of the Doric style) and the town located on top of a cliff, is one of the most important of the Mediterranean. We drive back to Palermo. In the morning we have an exclusive visit to one of the most important private historic houses of Italy, world known as the director Luchino Visconti used its halls to shoot the scene of the ball in his film, The Leopard (from the novel by G. Tomasi di Lampedusa). The rest of the day is free for relax and shopping.

Academic Tours: After breakfast in Palermo, we depart for Segesta to visit the Doric Temple of the 5th century BC. and the Greek Theater. Lunch on your own in Erice and visit of the medieval town. Proceed to Trapani stopping for wine tasting and a visit in Trapani to the Salt Museum with its mines and ancient windmills. Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Marsala.

Historic and Cultural Tour of Sicily: Saturday: Arrival at Palermo. Meet your tour escort for a welcome dinner at the hotel. Overnight in Palermo.Sunday: This morning, we'll explore medieval Palermo. We'll visit the Norman abbey of Monreale, overlooking the city, famous for its Byzantine mosaics and Norman-Arab cloister. Then we'll visit some of the city's Norman-Arab sights such as the Palatine Chapel, cathedral and Martorana Church. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Palermo.

Splendors of Sicily: A morning tour of this marvelous city of Palermo features the Quattro Canti, a splendid example of Baroque architecture, the Palace of the Normans and its superb Palatine Chapel, the Cathedral, and the famous Benedictine Abbey of Monreale. Here you will admire a 12th century cathedral, housing very fine mosaics representing a complete cycle of the Old and New Testaments, and the Cloisters. Proceed to Monte Pellegrino, a promontory that overlooks Palermo’s bay. Here you may visit Santa Rosalia’s sanctuary, the city’s patron saint. End your morning sightseeing in Mondello, a pretty resort area full of shops and a lovely beach. The afternoon is free. Your Tour Director will recommend an optional outing to the beautiful fishing town of Cefalú. Tonight, bid "addio" to your travel companions during a festive Farewell Dinner in a favorite "locals" restaurant.

Holiday Accommodation

Casena dei Colli: The Hotel Residence "Casena dei Colli", deep the luxuriant green of the outshirts of the city at the limits of the great park of the Favorita, is situated near important commercial, cultural, sporting and exposistive infrastructures. The rooms, furnished in the traditional Sicilian style, all very spacious, with living/dining-room, cooking point, WC/shower, are furnisched with all comfort: telephone, TV, refrigerator bar and indipendet air conditioning. Al exclusive restaurant and elegant bar, together with conference rooms, garden, garage and private car park, in the suggestive atmosphere of the nearby 18th century villa, make thr Hotel Residence "Casena dei Colli" and ideal reference point for you stay.A shuttle service to the centre of town is at the disposal of our guest.

Hotel Plaza Opéra: The hotel is situated in the shopping and business area of Palermo: a few steps away from viale della Libertà and the Politeama theatre, it is surrounded by art galleries and theatres, by the head offices of the main companies and banks, and also by the best restaurants and wine bars. The most famous monuments and historical and artistic sites making Palermo one of the capital cities of the Mediterranean are within a walking distance. In the lobby, the mixture of antique paintings and engravings and works by modern designers and artists, together with state-of-the-art lighting and a special attention to detail makes up the hotel’s distinctive atmosphere, combining traditional Sicilian hospitality with a cosmopolitan mood.

Magaggiari Hotel: Situated close to Cinisi at 7 kms from airport and 20 kms from Palermo downtown Magaggiari hotel resort is the only 4 stars hotel which offers three different types of accomodation. New building, open in 2005, it is divided in 27 hotel rooms, 13 residences and 6 villas; everything surrounded by a 18.000 sqm garden with different kind of trees ( pines, mediterrenean plants, orangee trees and lemon trees full of fruits which are at clients' disposal during the season). 27 rooms with private services (bath-tube or shower), independent air conditioning/heating, minibar, sat Tv, telephone, internet, terrace. The swimming-pool with 600 mc has a deeper area, another area for children as well as an area to do water activities.

Hotel Elite: The hotel is a modern building in the very center of the town. It was fully restructured in 2002 so to offer the best comforts to its guests while maintaing the original architectural style. The warm welcome, the quality of the services and the kindness of the staff make the Hotel Elite the ideal place where to have some fine holidays or where to stay for businesses purposes.

Azzolini Palm Beach Hotel: The hotel is located on the beach of Terrasini, in a very beautiful position on the sea and, in the same time, very close to the city centre. All the rooms are provided with private bathroom, tub or shower, direct dial telephone, air conditioning, television. Restaurant with both Sicilian and international cooking, bar, solarium, private parking, beach. The proximity of Terrasini harbour allows to do every sea sport: wind-surfing, sailing, underwater fishing.

Amarcord Hotel: The hotel is located in the heart of Palermo, close to the two cultural symbols of Palermo, the Massimo Theatre and the Politeama Theatre. The property is at easy access from the train station, port, airport and the highway. The hotel has air-conditioned guest rooms that are comfortable and furnished with style and elegance. Every morning, guests can start the day with healthy breakfasts, offered at the on-site breakfast room.

Hotel President: The hotel is located at 50 meters from the port and very near to the centre town of Palermo and offers a stunning view on the sea. Renovated in 2000, the hotel distinguishes itself by the sumptuousness of its softened, relaxing environments furnished with the maximum comfort. The hotel has 129 rooms: 20 single rooms and 109 double rooms; 78 with window sea ; 119 with bath and 10 with shower. All rooms are equipped with bath or shower, phone, satellite TV, air, conditioning / heating, mini-bar, hairdryer, courtesy linen and correspondence set.