The Mondello or Altavilla Milicia beaches are easy choices, but where do the people from Palermo go (and tourists usually don’t)?
LE PIATTAFORME ALL’ADDAURA (THE PLATFORMS AT ADDAURA) You can get to Mondello through Favorita Park but also by a coastal road that goes behind Montepellegrino. Many Palermitans enjoy access to the sea here, staying either on the rocks or on the platforms that get built for the summer, complete with all beach facilities. The area was already a settlement in the Palaeolithic era and there are some caves, which unfortunately cannot be visited. Many platforms act as nightclubs in the evening, and there you can drink, dance and make new friends.
CALA ROSSA A TERRASINI (TERRASINI RED COVE) This beach is thirty kilometres from Palermo, beyond the airport (you can see it on the west side as you land). The name refers to its red cliff, streaked with white, and you can swim between the crags. It is not uncommon to spot rare or migratory birds that frequent the area and the Cape Rama natural reserve. You can walk here after a rocky climb (the Praiola). I’ll be bringing some fruit and fresh water with me, the area is wild and there are no refreshments!
LA BAIA DEL CORALLO A SFERRACAVALLO (CORAL BAY IN SFERRACAVALLO) A rocky beach, with a concrete platform and easy access to the sea set within a crystal-clear gulf. It lies a short distance from the city, which can be reached with bus 628. Get off at the Hotel Bellevue stop and follow the path down to the sea. You’ll also walk by a very interesting installation with large aerials. For lunch or dinner, there are several fixed-price fish restaurants. You can also walk to Mondello along the footpath that goes through the so-called Avamposto [Outpost], just ask one of the fishermen of the port neighbourhood to show you the way through the pine forest and more rocks.
LA SPIAGGIA DI CAPACI E L’ISOLA DELLE FEMMINE (CAPACI BEACH AND THE ISLAND OF THE WOMEN) I know this stretch of beach very well and have been going to it since I was a child: it is still in my heart! You can see planes about to land in Punta Raisi and the beautiful islet that gives the name to the village, the Island of the Women, where legend has it some Turkish girls were cast out to and is now a natural reserve. Many go biking or running along the waterfront. There are a few lookout towers that communicated with each other through fires, to guard against the pirates who used to come to land for raids in antiquity.
I FRANCESI A MONGERBINO (THE FRENCH IN MONGERBINO) The name of this beach is peculiar and might stem from the fact that, many years ago, French tourists knew it well and preferred it to others, but nowadays they are nowhere to be found! You can access it walking down a lane along a private road, through typical local vegetation and prickly pears. Before leaving, you really must visit the Arco Azzurro [Blue Arch], a stone archway recently made famous by a chocolate advertisement, and newly reopened to visitors.