highway in mountains Palermo (iStockphoto)

Palermo (iStockphoto)

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What to do in Palermo

Palermo’s street markets sum up this complex city, occupied over the centuries by Romans, Normans, and Arabs. La Vucciria, one of three daily markets, sprawls across Piazza San Domenico and into narrow side streets. Crates are piled high with wild fennel and blood oranges; fishmongers chop swordfish steaks while singing; and the smoky smells of grilled octopus and stigghiole (lamb innards, a Palermo specialty) fill the air. Rows of stalls wind through Palermo’s most ancient quarter, where the Phoenicians settled in the 7th century B.C. and Arabs later built the foundation of the monumental Palazzo dei Normanni, today home of the Sicilian Parliament. Nearby, Baroque churches—ornate Santo Domenico and 16th-century Santa Zita, among the many—stand alongside crumbling medieval palaces, some still scarred from World War II.

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