It’s obvious to think of Palermo as a place full of beaches for sunbathing and swimming. But, there are also other exciting aspects to locations inside and outside the city that are connected to or close by the sea. I’ve picked out a few of them.
WATCHING THE SUNSET ON THE BEACH AT MAGAGGIARI DI CINISI
A few hundred meters from Palermo airport there is a beach flanked by a turquoise sea. The beach has fine sand and a shallow rocky bottom. If you land coming from the direction of the Gulf of Castellammare, you’ll see it on the left. The sunset is very evocative there. Sometimes, I go and watch it while sipping a Spritz at a little place on the beach. You can also see the planes landing and taking off. You get there from Palermo with the AST bus or by automobile, going along the SS113 towards Cinisi. (At the traffic light turn right. At the next traffic light, turn left and then go along the road for about a kilometre until you come to the beach).
PASTA WITH SEA URCHINS AND A VIEW OF THE PORT
When a particularly dear friend visits, I always have to take them to eat in Arenella. It’s not a district much frequented by tourists nor is it well connected by public transport, but it is easily accessible by auto or taxi. In one of the small white houses in this seaside village once used by fishermen (some of whom still remain), there’s a restaurant open only from late spring to early September: . From there, you see the lights of the port of Palermo and sometimes huge barges under repair at the shipyard. You usually eat fish here. Off-menu (just ask the waiter), you can also have a sublime pasta with sea urchins. Unfortunately, it’s not always available for a good reason: they only make it with freshly caught sea urchins.
JOGGING ALONG THE SEA IN MONDELLO
Of course, Mondello is famous for its beach. But at sunrise and sunset, many sport enthusiasts also meet to jog there. The route usually starts from Piazza di Valdesi and continues on to the piazza with La Sirenetta (the Little Mermaid). Some go further on toward the area of Torre or Sferracavallo. The location is unique. You can meet Irene there. She’s a communications expert who began jogging for fun and created a hashtag to get friends together to do it: #corriconIri. If you follow her on social media, you can join the jogging group which now has fifty enthusiasts (maybe even more) who also train their abs …by laughing a lot together. I go when I can. You can get there with the 806 bus.
DECLARING YOUR LOVE AT THE NORMAN TOWER IN ALTAVILLA
For an original way to propose or declare your love, you can go to the Norman Tower in Altavilla Milicia, east of Palermo. From there, you can enjoy a wonderful panorama that stretches from the Gulf off Cefalù up to Capo Zafferano. It’s difficult for someone to say “no” in the face of so much romance. To assure your answer, you can start to draw parallels between the rapture of your heart and that which led the Saracens to kidnap young girls from the nearby coast. The tower served to warn the locals. (It won’t work this time of course…).
LIVE MUSIC AT THE NAUTOSCOPIO
At the end of Corso Vittorio Emanuele, near Porto Felice, there’s a very special place. It has a little beach (not for swimming) and also a wood and iron structure that has become a symbol of the Foro Italico in Palermo. It’s the . This sort of mix between a ship, a lighthouse and a tower was built a few years ago by an artist. You can go there and listen to one of the many amateur musical groups that perform during the very full summer season. While having a drink there, I often see a huge cruise ship rise up in the background as it leaves its mooring in the nearby port and sets sail. Who could ask for more?