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  • Tony

Italy - Milan and Palermo

May-June 2023

Off to Palermo this week to join a few friends and since our best flight option was to connect through Milan we tacked on a few nights to explore the fashion capital as well.

A quick note to those flying through Milan, pay close attention to which airport you land and depart as it is not simple or fast to traverse between them. There are three international airports Milan Bergamo 45 km NE of Milan, Milan Malpensa 49 km NW of Milan, and Milan Linate 7 km E of Milan. Malpensa is the main airport and second busiest in Italy and sits just under an hour outside the center by train or car. Linate is the second largest Milan airport and is the closest to the city center about 20 minutes by car. Bergamo is the third busiest airport in Italy and serves most low cost airlines, just under an hour by car and slightly longer by train. Of the three Bergamo is the best city for a stop on your itinerary. Quaint with easy access from the airport, beautiful monuments, great restaurants, and the Venetian walled Citta Alta.

Landing in Bergamo a quick 10 minute taxi ride and we arrived at our hotel in the center of town. After settling in we walked a short way through Bergamo to Bella Napoli for dinner. Afterwards a stroll up cobblestone streets toward Citta Alta then back through the avenue. Were definitely planning a return trip to Bergamo to enjoy the city and its sights that are often overlooked, like we did in favor of the larger city of Milan.

Literally Trains, Planes, and Automobiles today. An hour train ride from Bergamo to Malpensa Airport, an hour and a half flight to Palermo, and a 45 minute Taxi ride we finally arrived in Palermo. Our hotel is located just outside the Historic center and close to the shopping promenade. the Grand Hotel des Palmes is a recently renovated hotel in a historic building that felt like we were the first quests to stay there since the restoration was completed. The stay was very nice.

After settling in to the Hotel we took an afternoon walk to the historic center passing Teatro Massimo, Quattro Canti (the four corners), and Fontana Pretoria before a nice dinner at Gigi Mangia near the Hotel

Passing Teatro Massimo on our way to explore the old center

A full day of exploration through the historic center including Quattro Canti (the four corners), Fontana Pretoria, Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Padri Teatini, Mercato di Ballarò, and the Norman Palace

Baroque, octagonal public plaza featuring 4 fountains topped by ornate statues in niches. Construction of the cantons was completed in 1621. Each canton has the three overlapping orders: Doric, Ionic and Composite. In the lower order are the statues of the "Seasons", in the middle order the statues of four Spanish kings, and, finally, in the upper order there are the statues of the patron saints of each district (S. Oliva, S. Cristina, S. Agata and S. Ninfa).

Soaring, 17th-century Sicilian Baroque Catholic church with marble, frescoes & a notable crucifix.. The rooftop provides a commanding view of the city, Quattro Canti, Fontana Pretoria,

Church of St. Mary of the Admiral Domed Norman-era (1143) church with ornate baroque remodelling known for its landmark Byzantine mosaics.

Church of San Cataldo Atmospheric Arabic-style Norman church built in 1154 with mosaic floors & 3 red domes.

Fontana Pretoria, Landmark 1500s fountain known for its ornate, tiered design & nude statues of mythological figures.

The racus Mercato di Ballaro winding through a narrow street filled with tourist kitsch, and loud vendors vying for the attention of the locals and tourists and the occasional shopper mounted on their trusty scooter barrelling through the crowds, stopping next to their favorite vendor to stock up on goods.

Norman Palace - Grand 9th century palace with a neo-classical facade, historic chapel & ornate royal apartments. The oldest royal residence in Europe.

Dinner at Stabile 169.

Day trip to the town of Cefalu known for its 12 Century Norman Cathedral and resort atmosphere. Today is a national Italian Holiday Festa della República this day in 1946 the Italian people were called to the polls to decide on the form of government following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism. Needless to say this sunny beach resort was packed! Lunch at Bastione & Costanza was excellent.