Guided tours in and around Palermo
Visit the "capital" of Sicily and its surroundings with a qualified guide
Palermo's monuments and places of interest: opening times and admission fees
Palermo highlights full day tour
Capital for both the Arabs and the Normans, Palermo's monuments reflect the magnificence of two worlds: East and West that come together in clashing contrast. We will visit the 12th century Palatine Chapel, built by the Normans, but decorated with Byzantine- and Islamic-style mosaics. Next, the Church of St. John of the Hermits built to look like a red-domed Mosque. The nearby Cathedral was built by the Normans, but every new ruling dynasty that arrived added their own style to it. Then, we will drive to nearby Monreale where we will visit the Norman Duomo (Cathedral) decorated on the inside with over 6,340 sq. meters (almost 70,000 sq. feet) of mosaics and 24-carat gold!
The Baroque period in Palermo half day tour
A revealing tour of the monuments that make Palermo the Baroque capital of western Sicily. The tour starts in the morning with a visit of the Church of Casa Professa. It's interior walls are entirely covered with colorful marble inlay from the 1600's. Then on to the Quattro Canti which is at old Palermo's exact center: the four corners of the buildings that form this octagonal square were decorated in 1617. Not far from here is Palazzo Mirto, witness to how the city's aristocracy used to live during and beyond the Baroque époque. All the original furniture and decorations are still perfectly preserved. The tour ends at the Oratorio del SS. Rosario and the Oratorio di Santa Cita. These two small churches are the local sculptor Giacomo Serpotta's masterpieces: all the interior walls are covered with beautiful stuccoes and statues from the end of the 1600's and early 1700's. Some of the paintings are marvelous and they include one by Anton Van Dyck.
The unknown side of Palermo and environs full day tour
Visit some of the most unusual monuments in the world. We will start at Piazza Pretoria with its beautiful Renaissance fountain originally built for a villa near Florence: a piece of 16th century Tuscany in the center of an Arab-Norman city. Nearby is the Church of La Martorana where 12th century severe Norman architecture clashes with the frivolities of the Baroque style. Then on to the Capuchin Catacombs where you will be shocked by a macabre sight: 8,000 mummified bodies dressed in their best Sunday clothes and propped up against the walls! Next, we'll move on to the Zisa Castle commissioned by the Norman King William I, but built by his Muslim architects who used all their Middle-Eastern know-how. In the afternoon, we'll drive to the town of Bagheria known for its Baroque villas. We will visit the most unusual one built by the Prince of Palagonia who was fascinated with monsters and mirrors.
Palermo's Renaissance half day tour
With a few exceptions, most Renaissance Art arrived at Palermo through Spanish and Northern Italian artists. Nonetheless it is the home of some of the most elegant monuments and art works from that époque. We will start the tour at the beautiful Pretoria Square with its marble post-Renaissance fountain, which was brought over from Tuscany in 644 pieces. Then we will visit the 15th century Palazzo Abatellis which houses the Regional Art Gallery, famous for Antonello da Messina's painting of the "Annunciation". Here you will also see paintings and sculptures that go from the 10th century Arab period to the pre-Baroque period, including many Spanish and Flemish Renaissance paintings. Nearby is the 15th century Church of Santa Maria delle Catene considered a true jewel of the Gothic-Catalan style still common during the Renaissance in Palermo. We will end the tour at the Church of San Giorgio built in the austere post-Renaissance style by the Genovese merchants living here during the 15th and 16th centuries.
Learn more about towns of origin in the Palermo area. Hire a local tour guide and/or driver to visit Alia, Aliminusa, Baucina, Bisacquino, Borgetto, Campofiorito, Campofelice di Fitalia, Camporeale, Capaci, Cinisi, Castellammare del Golfo, Chiusa Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Marineo, Montelepre, Montemaggiore Belsito, Partinico, Piana degli Albanesi, San Giuseppe Jato, Termini Imerese, Tusa, Valledolmo, Vallelunga Pratameno, etc.