Epic operas, all-you-can-eat seafood, and fewer tourists inflating the prices.
Home to some of Italy’s most underrated cultural attractions (not to mention lower prices than you’ll find in overtouristed Florence and Venice), the Sicilian capital is a masterpiece of hodgepodge architecture and noisy street culture. Make your first stop the sprawling Palermo Cathedral, a onetime mosque, and the Cappella Palatina, a twelfth-century gem inside the Palazzo dei Normanni. Then stroll twenty minutes to the newly renovated, and aptly named, Teatro Massimo, Italy’s largest opera house, where you can buy tickets to see Verdi’s Nabucco, now running through January (from $30; teatromassimo.it). Wander the Galleria d’Arte Moderna, which moved last year from the edge of town to a fifteenth-century cloister in the city center (galleriadartemodernapalermo.it). Hide out in the wood-paneled back room of Cana Enoteca (canaenoteca.it) to sample new wines from the up-and-coming Mount Etna region. Now eat! Antica Focacceria San Francesco (39-091-320-264) serves Sicilian classics like arancini di riso (rice balls filled with tomato sauce and peas or mozzarella). Join the nightly street party/gossip session at Trattoria da Salvo on Via Torremuzza, where there’s just-caught seafood on the grill (no phone). Stay at BB22, a chic bed-and-breakfast down a blind alley near Vucciria, Palermo’s colorful food market (from $165; bb22.it).