The idyllic island of Sicily, steeped in romance, history and enchanting allure, is definitely a great place to spend time with your other half. The whole island is very beautiful with is natural landscapes of verdant hills, smoking volcanoes and miles of glittering coastline, but I want to focus now on its capital city – Palermo.
With its inky mix of grit and grandeur, Sicily’s capital Palermo inspires obsessive devotion. This city will always have a special place in my heart and I tell you the reason later on.
Multicultural city of Palermo is regularly ranks as one of the world’s top destinations for travellers, tourists, and visitors. With the 12th-century Palermo Cathedral houses, its Teatro Massimo, the Palazzo dei Normanni, the central Ballarò street market, and more, the area is full of historical monuments and points of interest. However when it comes to couple getaway you’re sure to find the perfect place to stay.
Classic Italian Villa. Grand Hotel Villa Igiea
This 5 star Hotel boasts a great location overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Bay of Palermo. This older historical property has a lots of character, interesting to know that it recently became a member of the Historic Hotels Worldwide. The building, its terrace and gardens come with that special flair of greatness you won’t find in modern hotels. And that special flair will accompany you inside, as well. The tiny little old style elevators scattered across the building and sometimes hidden in some distinct corner, the staircases, the ballrooms, the old radiators you’ll find along the corridors and the rooms themselves with their heavy curtains and wallpapers, with their windows hard to open and their high ceilings. My wife and I really liked all that a lot.
Staying in such romantic place is big pleasure but being explorer in spirit I always have a constant wanderlust. And Palermo is one of those places you can make a lot of interesting discoveries.
The historical centre of Palermo is considered to be one of the largest in Europe, a labyrinth of streets just begging to be explored. To feel this Italian city’s pulse, head into its narrow, graffiti-strewn backstreets, where kids play football, families trade local gossip, and washing lines cut through the air.
Horse and carriage
Instead of the usual hand-in-hand stroll through the streets there is another popular way to get a general idea of Palermo – to take a horse and carriage which can generally be found in front of Teatro Massimo or near the Cathedral.
Travel Tips: You MUST agree a price with the driver first, however, so as not to have any unpleasant surprises at the end.
Don’t’ forget to make your culinary adventure through a variety of lively markets, such as Vucciria and Capo, where the stalls are piled high with seasonal produce. Once in Palermo you must sample a selection of Sicilian delicacies such as panelle (chickpea fritters), arancini (rice balls) and cannoli (a sweet ricotta-based treat). And of course wash it all down with one of Sicily’s delicious, local wines.
Ice cream is worshipped in Palermo, where many even claim it was invented.
It is well know fact that music can enhance the sense of intimacy and attraction, so if you think that music is a ‘food of love’ as I do then ensure you book in an evening performance at the stunning Teatro Massimo, reportedly the third largest theatre in Europe. The iconic building might look familiar to movie buffs thanks to its cameo in the final Godfather movie, when Sofia Coppola met her untimely demise on the sweeping steps.
Travel Tips: You can hire an intimate, private box to have more privacy. official website: Teatro Massimo
If you like weird and creepy stuff you should know that the city of Palermo hosts one of the world’s most bizarre and morbid tourist attractions. Through the doors of the Capuchin Monastery, which looks like any other building from the outside, visitors can descend into the large Capuchin catacombs.
Home to 8,000 embalmed bodies, this macabre spectacle takes you along corridors paved with marble tombstones and lined with rows of mummified men, women and children, fully dressed and propped upright. The oldest dates back to 1599; the most recent, a two-year-old girl named Rosalia Lombardo, who died in 1920 and is eerily well-preserved.
Frozen Between Worlds
The embalming procedure has kept Rosalia looking so well preserved that she has been dubbed “Sleeping Beauty.” The embalming procedure, which was lost for decades, consists of “formalin to kill bacteria, alcohol to dry the body, glycerin to keep her from overdrying, salicylic acid to kill fungi, and the most important ingredient, zinc salts to give the body rigidity.”
Nearly 100 years after her death, Rosalia’s body remained almost completely intact. It is difficult to untangle the feelings aroused by Rosalia, innocent and young, yet frozen between worlds, un-allowed to decay least her family lose her spirit forever.
We were luck actually to see this famous mummy in original glass covered coffin on a wooden pedestal. After the research conducted by National Geographic team concluded that mummy was beginning to show signs of decomposition her original coffin was placed in a hermetically sealed glass enclosure with nitrogen gas to prevent decay.
The Dead Eyes Open…
Rosalia’s mummy is surrounded by some mysteries and unexplained things: there are reports of her eyes opening. Several time-lapse photos exist that appear to substantiate this claim, showing them opening at least 1/8 of an inch, revealing her intact blue eyes underneath. The most likely cause of this rather creepy phenomenon is changes in room temperature or simply an optical illusion. Yet it’s fueled many cult believes of Rosalia’s spirit returning to the body and is Rosalia’s most infamous myth.
Travel Tips: Within Palermo, the catacombs are a short walk from the city center, but public transportation is also available. Entry fee is only 3 euros. Official website: Capuchin catacombs
Hunt for the Engagement Ring
Now is the time to explain why Palermo is so special for both me and my wife. That could possibly be one of the most romantic things happens in a relationship – marriage proposal. I proposed to my wife (girlfriend at the time) and she said ‘yes’. It was a great moment for us, only one thing was missing – engagement ring. Sicily actually boasts the great number of artisan gold and jewellery businesses in the country. Jewellery features among the top things to buy in Italy, so we have decided to choose the ring there.
In Palermo things happen slowly. The majority of Palermo’s shops are closed on Monday mornings and opening hours during weekend can vary, so it was a real challenge browsing around jewellery boutiques, however it was worth it. End of the day we’ve found a stunning diamond ring of exceptional quality. My wife loves it and has never took it off from her finger since then.
This trip gave us unforgettable emotions and at the very end we left romantic city of Palermo with a great desire to return, very soon! Who knows may be this city will capture your heart as well?