PALERMO - NEIGHBORHOODS
The airport of Palermo lies in Punta Raisi, about 22 miles northwest of Palermo along the freeway A29. This area can be convenient if you need to catch an early morning flight. The airport itself is remote with limited public transportation links. It typically takes about 45 to 50 minutes to get into the city center from here if you use the airport bus. A rental car is also an option, however we don`t recommend driving in Palermo as the streets are very congested. These hotel options can be a quieter option than staying in the city center and also convenient if you plan to explore outside the city center.
One of the most distinguished sections of Palermo, this part of the ancient town represents the Phoenician impact on culture and architecture hundreds of years ago. Like the Kalsa, it is filled with tiny, dimly lit alleyways barely wide enough for a person and with decrepit buildings in dire need of repair. And although there are some undesirable areas, there are some very lovely corners as well, such as the splendid Piazza Bologni, with it`s noble palaces and statue of Charles V, and the facade of the Palazzo Sclafani, which once housed the Trionfo della Morte (Triumph of Death) which is now at the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia.
Within this neighborhood you can find one of the oldest markets in Italy, Ballaro. Starting from the edges of the Piazza Bologni you will find this place booming with visitors and locals alike, buying up food, and local art from the many stands. You will also be able to find multiple restaurants and cafés in the mesh of this vibrant area.
Borgo Vecchio is a historical area, but also an area with social unrest. Staying in this area will offer guests a convenient location to be within walking distance of the city`s attractions such as Teatro Politeama, Piazza Politeama and the City Center Palermo. Teatro Massimo (Palermo), Museo Archeological Regionale and Chiesa di San Domenico are also not far away.
Castellammare (City Center)
Named for the `Castle in the Sea`, referencing a large fortress that once stood during Arab rule to guard the port of the city. The city center is situated between Via Maqueda, Corso Vittoria Emmanuele and Via Crispi, where you`ll find an abundance of historical structures. The heart of the city is also where the lively Vuccuria Market is located, which can be visited day or night and will always supply hours of action.
After 8pm you will find it to be a whirlwind of apertifs, music and dancing, where you can spend the hours until sun comes up experiencing the rich nightlife that the city center brings. Be aware, it can be a noisy place and hard to find night-time peace. However, the convenience is a great advantage to be able to walk out your door and stroll to the nearest sights.
The Kalsa district is Palermo`s Arab quarter founded in 937, an unpolished gem sometimes referred to as La Kalsa or the Kalsa. There are many major sights to see in this area such as the Pretoria Fountain, the Chiaramonte Steri and the Martorana Church to name a few. The Lattarini Market is also within Kalsa, its name also Arabic origins meaning spices market.
Some of the area in Kalsa was seriously damaged during WWII, but in recent years, several old Palazzi and other buildings have been restored to their former glory. This area also offers several lovely restaurants and bars.
Monte Di Pieta
This district is also known as Seracaldio, and was also founded by the Arabic rulers that used to live here. It is located in the historic center of the city and is one of the four historic districts (or mandamenti). In addition, this district is commonly known as Capo because of the famous market inside of it. The area is unique in that it still retains much of the Gothic design originally laid out as the city`s grid, with various sectors and neighborhoods each boasting their own style and influence of arts and architecture.
Within this historic district, as you walk the colorful winding streets, you will find the Cathedral of Palermo, the Diocesan Museum, Teatro Massimo (Theatre) and the Port Carini (oldest gates of the city) amongst baroque churches and structures. This is one of the most convenient areas to stay in the city offering great advantage to be within the heart of it all in the city.
The hotels located in the outskirts of Palermo city center are about 2 to 5 miles outside the city center and are fairly accessibly by any means of transportation. Staying outside the city center offers a more tranquil, quieter option so you can sleep in silence away from the noise of the busy city streets. These locations typically offer restaurants, bars, and other amenities within walking distance.