Capital of Sicily, vibrant Palermo lies on a coastal plain in the northwest of the island. Chaotic, noisy, run down and exhausting, this is a compelling city, with a rich history. Its main sights date from the 12th century, unique examples of Arabo-Norman art and architecture, and include the churches of San Cataldo and La Martorana. Contemporary with these is the glittering mosaic-decorated Cappella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni, built by the Arabs in the 9th century and enlarged in the 12th, and the Cattedrale.
Don’t miss the city’s 17th-century Baroque buildings, its exuberant Vucciria market, redolent with scents and colour, and the Museo Archeologico Regionale, with its superb collection of Greek sculpture. For something different, head for the Convento dei Cappuccini, where over 8,000 bodies are preserved in underground corridors, or relax on the beaches of Mondello.