Travel Guide: Palermo
After their impressive return to Serie A last season Palermo once again hold Sicilian bragging rights over island neighbours Catania, and although losing star striker Paulo Dybala to Turin giants Juventus there is still plenty of reasons to schedule a trip to see the Rosanero.
Adult tickets for category C matches at the Stadio Renzo Barbera start at just €10 for a place on one of the curvas – €30 for category A matches – although for other parts of the stadium prices differ widely and range between anything from €14 to a whopping €170.
However, with few Palermo games selling-out obtaining those to suit your budget is rarely a problem and can often be purchased on the gate two hours before kick-off, but take into account that when Serie A’s traditional ‘big names’ are in town purchasing in advance is advised.
This can be done online or, if you are in Palermo in advance of the game, at any of the Lottomatica sale points scattered around the city.
Should you be aiming to visit some of Palermo’s many sights then you are best situating yourself in the historic centre, made up of four quarters, that is just north of the central station and just a 45 minute walk from the Stadio Renzo Barbera.
On Via Roma you can find accommodation to suit most budgets with the modest Hotel del Centro offering double or twin rooms starting at €65 including breakfast, but if it is a true taste of luxury you are after the Grand Hotel et Des Palmes is available from ‘just’ €145-a-night.
However, if you are looking to make the pilgrimage as cheaply as possible, around the corner on Via Volturno beds in the bright and clean hostel dormitories are available at A Casa di Amici for just €18.
Palermo is no different to the Italian mainland and can be reached from the UK at reasonable cost with Easyjet and Ryanair, from Gatwick and Stansted respectively, offering routes directly to the city’s Falcone-Borsellino airport west of the city.
From there you should make the 45 minute journey on the Prestia e Comande bus to the Teatro Politeama-Garibaldi or central train station at a cost of around €6, rather than using one of the local taxi’s which will cost around €45.
The Trinacria Express train also runs directly to the central station and will be a little quicker than the bus, also costing around €6. Both leave the airport roughly every 30 minutes.
A city full of history and cultural diversity Sicily’s capital is hugely popular with tourists – even without the draw of Serie A football on a Sunday afternoon – with Baroque churches, Norman palaces and Byzantine domes to explore.
The Chiesa di Francesco d’Assisi church is an excellent example of gothic architecture, however, South-west of the city the Duomo di Monreale is known as the island’s true masterpieces awash with mosaics of biblical scenes.
Housing the Sicilian government, the Palazzo Reale is an ideal place to start a days trekking around Palermo with the 12th-century Cappella Palatina situated within its grounds and a short walk from the impressive Cattedrale Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
However, if historic architecture is of little interest you can opt for the city’s cultural offerings by attending either a tour or performance at the Teatro Massimo, or sample some modern Sicilian art at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna on Via Sant’Anna.
What you must not miss before leaving, though, is the many neighbourhood street markets, such as the Mercato del Capo hoisting a wide variety of wonderfully appetising food stalls.
If it is a quick snack you crave whilst wandering the streets of Palermo you will not be disappointed by choosing to pick up some arancini (deep-fried rice balls). The Sicilian speciality come in a variety forms and are significant in size at just €2, and can be found at the Touring Cafe on Via Roma.
For somewhere to sit and enjoy the cuisine though you should locate the Ristorante Santandrea in the Vuccira district who offer a range of local dishes that will set you back around €35 per person.
However, behind cathedral on Piazza Sant’Anna is Ristorantino da Spano where sizeable pizzas at €12-€15 will easily satisfy a budgeting couple’s appetite.
Getting to the Stadio Renzo Barbera
Located just two-and-a-half miles from Palermo’s historic centre the stadium is a manageable walk away on a pleasant Sicilian day. Heading north directly along Via Antonio Cassara and then Viale della Croce Rossa you eventually come to the Piazza Giovanni Paolo II where the stadium will be visible to your right.
However, for a small cost the 101 bus from the central station at Via Roma will ferry you the short journey and leaves roughly every five minutes. Alternatively number 107 follows a near identical route but collects less frequently.
At the Stadio Renzo Barbera
While owner Maurizio Zamparini continues to stall on plans to build the new Stadio di Palermo – first proposed in 2011 – the Rosanero’s home remains the Stadio Renzo Barbera to the north of the city.
Undergoing several name changes since its inauguration in 1932 the most recent moniker arrived in 2002 in honour of their former president and despite only minimal renovation since being readied for three group games at Italia’90 remains one of the most colourful venues in Serie A.
This is due to the fervent support of the Palermo faithful whose passion ensures that the club boost some of the more impressive attendances, a respectable 17,481 average in 2014-15 in a stadium with a capacity of just 36,349
Always a sea of flags and banners, key ultra groups – Commandos Aquile, Warriors Ultras Palermo 1980, Ultras Palermo 1900 and Brigate Rosanero – are always out in force on the Curva Nord Inferiore, but have been prone to a spot of violence.
That should not detract potential visitors, though, given the reducing frequency at which such scenes are witnessed these days, with their rhythmic drum beating and cries pivotal to the spectacle that will often leave you gazing at its vibrancy rather than the football on the pitch.
In fact it is somewhat fitting that on such a beautiful island the Renzo Barbera is something of a microcosm of the beauty, passion and occasional shadowy side of its culture.
However, most of the trouble now surrounds what is a bitter Derby di Sicilia with neighbours Catania from the South-East as they fight for island supremacy, but after switching places in 2014 the Rosanero are lauding it over their rivals.
Hotel (per night): €25-€30
Flights: €60 return
Airport transfer: €6 return
Match ticket: €30-€240
Food: €10-15 pizza