Popular Palermo Shore Excursions
Palazzo dei Normanni (Piazza del Parlamento, open Monday - Saturday 8:30 a.m. - noon, and 2 p.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. - noon), is home to the Sicilian parliament and considered the island's greatest treasure. The palace dates to the days of Arab control in the ninth century. It was restored by the Normans, and then by the Spanish. The must-see inside is Cappella Palatina, built for the very wealthy Roger II in the 12th century, and adorned with breathtaking mosaics and gold.
The recently renovated Teatro Massimo (Piazza G. Verdi) was built between 1875 and 1897 in neo-Classical style and boasts the second largest indoor stage in Europe after the Paris Opera House. The steps out front are the big attraction as this is where a key scene in "Godfather 3" was filmed (when Don Corleone's daughter Mary is shot and cries, "Papa, papa").
The city's Cathedral, Piazza di Cattedrale (open Monday - Saturday 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.), is of Arab-Norman design, built starting in 1185 A.D. It's actually prettier outside (a nice photo opp) than in -- your chance to see Greek-Roman, Norman and Arabic influences all blended together.
Museum Archaeologico Regionale (Via Bara all'Olivella 24, open Tuesday - Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 6:15 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.), is located in a former Renaissance-era monastery and houses some of Italy's most valuable Roman and Greek artifacts including sculptures from the temples of Selinunte, once a major Greek city on the Italian coast. The Roman collection includes mosaics and frescoes.
Inside the 15th-century Palazzo Abatellis (Via Alloro, 4) is one of Sicily's best art museums, Galleria Regionale della Sicilia (daily 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. and Tuesday - Thursday 3 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.), boasting dozens of religious panels and sculptures dating from the Middle Ages through the Baroque period.
Go shopping. Tre Erre Ceramiche ceramic shop (Via E. Arari, 49), a short walk from the ship pier, has worldwide fans including Chelsea Clinton. The ceramics here are breathtaking. Fancy stores, including Chanel, Tods, D&G (Dolce & Gabbana) and Armani, can be found on Via Liberta. Popular with Palermo's own chic set, Fiorentino, on Via Liberta, has been selling beautiful jewelry since 1890.