Sicily itself has always been a hotpot of different cultures from the Greeks and Romans to the Muslims, the Normans, and the Spanish. And nowhere this is more noticeable than its capital – Palermo. Nestled to the top left of the island its rich culture and busy streets make you want to explore, it gives you a feeling that there is something more to be discovered, and there always is.

Arab and Norman buildings sit among the modern city blocks and the mafia built tower blocks that were used to launder money from their illegal trades. There is a rich fishing culture that seems to emanate from the port of La Cala and produces some of the best seafood I have ever tried. The food is a beautiful mishmash of classic Italian cuisine with Arabic and Spanish influences and of course lots of seafood. I highly recommend sardine beccafico, grilled sardines stuffed with couscous, pine nuts, orange, sultanas and herbs.

At first Palermo seems rough and ready, its scars from years of cultural change and wars are visible everywhere from its different occupations to the second world war and the rule of the mafia. You have to be ready for Palermo – it bites you with every sense, but even after a week there I couldn’t get enough, the food, the coffee, the markets, the people, and some of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.

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La Cala

Young couple

Fontana Pritoria

Perfectly good place to sleep

Street art and graffiti by the markets

Busy streets by La Cala at night

Chapella Palatina

Cattedrale Di Palermo

Roof of the Cattedrale Di Palermo

Quick hop

Knife sharpeners

One of many hidden market streets

Stray dogs sleep among the fishing nets

Fish market

Fishermen fix their nets

Church of Santa Maria Del Ammiraglio

Church of San Matteo

Sicilian coffee