What came first – our love of lists or Buzzfeed? Who knows? Who cares? Lists are great. So I am going to jump right aboard the listy band wagon with my top 5 cheap things to do in Palermo, Sicily.
1. Botanical gardens : €5
The parks and open spaces in Palermo tend to be a bit skanky (think broken glass, dog poo and dry grass) so the botanical gardens (Orto Botanico) are worth paying to visit.
They are cool and calm and large enough to feel totally alone in. Don’t miss the cactus greenhouse, giant root/branch trees and turtle-filled pond.
2. Eat street food €3
Of course Italian food is lush but food in Sicily is a notch above. Cheap, unusual and filling, it will also probably give you a heart attack so approach with restraint.
Traditional savoury snacks to tempt you:
- pane e panelle – deep fried chickpea fritters served in a bun (around €2.50)
- arancina – a tennis ball-sized lump of sticky rice with a meat or cheese centre, again, deep fried (€1.80)
- sfincione – a thick pizza, topped with sweet, oily tomatoes, onions and cubes of hard cheese (€2 a slice).
3. Mondello or Monreale by bus : €2.80
90 minute bus tickets cost €1.40 each so you can get 2 journeys for less than €3. Mondello, the glorious seaside town is a 15 minute ride away (take bus 806 from Politeama) or head up the hill to Monreale to see a spectacular church and equally stunning views (bus 389 from Piazza Indipendenza).
Just remember to cancel your ticket in the small yellow machines once you’re on the bus else you could face a €50+ fine.
4. Eat breakfast like a local : €2
Did you know that it costs more for table service in bars / cafes in Italy?
Act like a local and make your breakfast a pronto affair of caffeine and sugar.
An espresso and a cornetto (a croissant) will set you back around €0.80 each if you order and stand at the bar.
There is a good selection of quiet cafes on di Belmonte. My favourite is Spinnato because of the grand old interior and well-stocked bar.
5. Visit the catacombs : €3
An easily missable door near a chaotic roundabout is the entrance to one of the strangest things I have ever visited.
The catacombs house hundreds of skeletons, some with hair, skin and eyelashes, several metres underground. Some of the bodies are in a right state of disrepair, others wear moth bitten suits.
There are no signs so it’s impossible to work out what’s going on but the atmosphere is quiet and respectful.
Let me know your cheap things to do in Palermo.