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Palermo Italy

Founded in 734 BCE, Palermo has experienced its fair share of conquest. Sicily's capital passed through the hands of the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Normans before officially becoming part of Italy in 1860. That sense of diversity still exists in this melting pot of a city, whose wide-ranging architecture and cuisine are direct descendants of its past.

Many first-time visitors to Palermo are surprised by its beauty. The city boasts multiple UNESCO-listed churches, including Palermo Cathedral. The stunning 12th-century landmark blends Byzantine, Gothic, baroque and neoclassical architecture. Palazzo Reale, a Norman palace nearby, features a must-see chapel with Byzantine-era golden mosaics and an Islamic-style ceiling.

Great Italian cities are famous for their food, and Palermo is no exception. The seafood here is as fresh as it gets, thanks to Palermo's coastal location facing the Tyrrhenian Sea. Street markets like Mercato del Capo are great places to sample regional produce. Other local specialities include 'sfincione' and 'arancini', ideally paired with a glass of Sicilian wine.

For a dose of Palermo's culture scene, opera and ballet lovers book seats well in advance to see performances at Teatro Massimo. If it's art you seek, stop by the Galleria d'Arte Moderna or Antonio Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum.

Among Palermo's biggest draws is its warm Mediterranean climate. On weekends, locals don swimsuits and head to Mondello Beach. For more adventure, head north to Mount Pellegrino – a popular spot for hiking, picnicking and enjoying views of the city, mountains and sea.


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