Spend a day in Sicily and discover the Old Country
Once you have coffee in Italy, you might never enjoy it anywhere else ever again. Head to one of the many cafes by the Piazza Verdi and order an espresso. The caffeine will help keep you moving all day.
Visit the nearby Teatro Massimo, which film buffs will recall from The Godfather: Part III. Inaugurated in 1897, more than two decades after the laying of the building’s foundation stone, this is Italy’s largest opera house and one of the most recognisable in Europe. If the gates are open, climb the red-carpeted steps and feel like a theatre star.
Nothing epitomises old Italy better than its street markets, and the Mercato di Capo is among the best. Fresh seafood, bright spices and colourful vegetables are sold by charismatic old men who sneak double-entendres into their sales pitches. Be sure to delve deep into the market, as prices are more expensive near the entrances. For a snack, try the fried treat called ‘arancini,’ rice balls filled with mozzarella and delicious meat sauce.
Hidden in the Capo market is the Sant’Agostino church. Unremarkable from outside but beautiful within, the church includes a shrine to St. Rosalia, Palermo’s patron saint, who is said to have rescued the city from a plague in the 17th century. Her shrines all over the city are usually decorated with roses.
Walk to Piazza San Domenico. The statue of San Domenico faces away from the main street, since the street wasn’t laid out until the 19th century. If you have the stamina for another church, visit the Church San Domenico. If not, walk into La Rinascente for some shopping.
Above La Rinascente and overlooking Piazza San Domenico, La Obiká Mozzarella Bar offers everything you’ll need after a long day of walking. Sit back and enjoy the music, a glass of Grillo wine and a mozzarella sampler, which includes smoked mozzarella that’s unlike anything you’ll ever try outside Italy.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Italy without pizza. Check out Primi Piatti Ristorante, a tiny, hidden restaurant that makes perfect Sicilian-style pizzas topped with savoury ingredients such as anchovies and capers. Order wine by the glass or the carafe, and be sure to save space for tiramisu.
Finish the night with local karaoke. Via Sant’Agostino has half a dozen karaoke parlours if you don’t mind singing Italian lyrics. Locals may dominate the microphone, but if you applaud after they sing, you’ll soon be invited to take a turn. Be brave and have fun!