Hiring a car in Palermo

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Hiring a car in Palermo

Pick up your hire car at Palermo airport and head for the godfather of all Sicilian cities.

60-second guide to Palermo

in its own head

"Look at us, we're one of the most important cities of the ancient world with the art and architecture of centuries to prove it!"

but more realistically

Palermo has indeed managed to preserve its impressive cultural legacy, though these days it's also a bustling, modern city.

the vibe

By far the busiest city you'll see in Sicily and a great place for people watching. If you don't catch at least one wedding while wandering around, it's probably the apocalypse.

the natives

Coffee-swilling, horn-beeping, hand-shaking lovelies. Ask for directions and you're likely to end up getting a lift, a potted history of the city and possibly dinner.

the weather

There's potential for year-round ice cream feasting with months of warm and sunny weather and summers that verge on scorching.

the local speciality

Seafood and aubergine in any form are guaranteed to be good. Get them together and you're in for a real treat.

the celebrity

Leonardo Sciascia, Sicily's most famous author of grim, life's-a-bitch stories about murder, corruption and the Mafia, died in Palermo - of natural causes, ironically.

did you know?

Everyone's favourite posh coffee, the cappuccino, hails from the Capuchin monastery on the edge of the city.

they say

"Whoever goes to Palermo and doesn't see Monreale, goes there a jackass and returns a fool." - Sicilian proverb

5 to see in town...

1. Teatro Massimo

Massimo? It ain't half. Palermo's opera house covers a whopping 8,000 square metres. That's a whole lotta opera. Splash out and get yourself a box.

where to park?

Leave your hire car in Piazzale Ungheria and pay at the coin-operated machines. It costs €1.50 an hour.

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2. San Giovanni degli Eremiti

The red domes of this church give it a Moroccan air - that's because, during the Islamic conquest of Sicily, it was converted into a mosque.

where to park?

Park at the Piazza della Vittoria.

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3. Santa Maria dell'Ammigalio

When it comes to spectacular Italian churches, you'd be hard pressed to find a more impressive example than this. Dripping with spectacular Baroque mosaics in vibrant golds, blues and reds, Santa Maria dell'Ammigalio dates back to the 12th century.

where to park?

Don't be fooled by the vehicles in Piazza Bellini: unless you are a town councillor, your car will be towed away!

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4. Mondello

Like swimming? Like prehistoric remains? Then you'll love this pretty beach town, where you can go for a refreshing dip and check out a selection of early man's cave-based abodes.

where to park?

You can park your hire car on Viale Regina Elena, Piazza Valdesi and on most of the neighbouring streets for 50 cents per hour from June to September.

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5. Palazzo dei Normanni

Behind the frankly average facade of this Norman palace lies a wealth of jaw-dropping art added to and embellished by the city's ever changing overlords. Like a mini Vatican - but without the queues.

where to park?

Park at the Piazza della Vittoria parking. You can also park along the streets of the nearby Albergheria neighbourhood.

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and 4 to drive to...

1. Cefalu

Work up an appetite and head here for dinner. Tourism is big business, but the old quarter retains a rustic charm and hides some of the best seafood joints in town.

how to get there?

Head east along the coast on the E90. It'll take about an hour.

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2. Corleone

Yep, it's the one from The Godfather - and also the place where real-life mafioso 'boss of bosses' Bernardo Provenzano was arrested in 2006.

how to get there?

Head south on the E90, then the SS121. Then head south-west on the SS128 and you're there. Bada bing! The drive takes around an hour.

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3. Monreale

On a hill overlooking Palermo, Monreale boasts a cathedral that concentrates Norman, Arab and Byzantine art into one heady concoction.

how to get there?

It's a 20-minute drive south-west along Corso Calatafimi, which becomes the SS186 as you head out of town.

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4. Sciacca

People have been taking the therapeutic waters of the thermal springs at this picturesque seaside town since the days of ancient Greece. Soothe away any aches and pains then hit the beach, revived.

how to get there?

Head south on the SS624, then the SP79. It'll take you about an hour and 50 minutes.

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