About Judy E
Lives in Rome, Italy
Since Jul 2014
For the past decade Italy has been a constant in my assignments as travel writer and photographer. Rome, Florence, and Venice are the cities where I spend the most time, but much of my time has been spent in small towns and the countryside, too, especially in Southern Italy. It's always a privilege to criss-cross the boot, often in a convertible or by train. The art, culture, food, nature, and wine are all incredible. Italy is so rich in these that the problem is never to find something of interest, it's in all those wonders that for lack of space never make it to the printed page or web page. Born in the U.S. and with treasured years of working in the museum world in Washington, DC, I always bring those perspectives with me, too, including to TripAdvisor. I was delighted that TripAdvisor commissioned me to write some Travel Guides for Rome, Venice, and Sicily. Happy reading and happy travels!
Flea & Street Markets
Points of Interest & Landmarks, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites, Churches & Cathedrals
Ancient Ruins, Sacred & Religious Sites
Points of Interest & Landmarks
Historic Sites, Islands
Wineries & Vineyards
Churches & Cathedrals, Sacred & Religious Sites
La Vucciria, Palermo's most famous market, is centered primarily around Piazza Caracciolo, where the fishermen have their stalls. Here, the sword is still on the swordfish, and local favorites include fresh sardines, anchovies, tuna, and octopus. Meat comes in a great variety and little is wasted, which makes innards very popular in the local cuisine. See what's in season by exploring the the local produce. Beyond fruit and vegetables, there are herbs, capers, raisins, almonds, pistachios, and other specialties of Sicily to try. Look out for beans (dried or fresh), many varieties of tomatoes, and pastas.
This Norman palace began as a Moorish fortress when Sicily was an Arab emirate. The modifications and expansions by the Normans are evident in the Pisan Tower and the central section of the palace in particular. Emperor Frederick II, considered one of the most visionary leaders of the era, chose Sicily as his base. His son, Roger II, built the Palatine Chapel between 1130 and 1140, and the result included splendid mosaics that are among Italy's best, and good enough to rival those in Ravenna.
The painting of the 'The Annunciation' by Antonello da Messina is reason enough to visit the Regional Gallery of Sicily, but the museum is also home to a number of other captivating works of art. The gallery is housed in Palazzo Abatellis, and its street, Via dell’Alloro, connects to the Moslem quarter (Kalsa), near the port of Cala.
Creative dining, an excellent wine selection, and several tables overlooking the square make this tranquil restaurant worth a visit. (If a languid lunch is not in the plans, keep this in mind for dinner.) Raw fish and pasta, including anneletti (pasta rings) with Nero d’Avola sauce, are especially good here, and all dishes are beautifully presented.
Mondello, a nearby beach set in a scenic curve of coast, is always lively with Palermo locals. Beach clubs rent chairs and umbrellas here, and there are plenty of places to eat along this long stretch of sand and shallow, aqua-colored water.
The Doric Temple of Segesta, made of golden limestone, dates back to 430BC and is evidence of the Greek influence in Sicily. Beautifully set high among a rolling wave of hills, with patchworks of green and golden grain, it is as powerful to visit for its lovely views of the countryside as for the majesty of the temple itself.
A windmill like Isole dello Stagnone is something a visitor might expect to see in Holland rather than Sicily, but these windmills were once an important part of salt production in the area. This restored windmill houses a small museum that explains the history and the salt-production process.
The Island of Mozia (also known as Motya, Mothia, or Motia) was the first Phoenician colony in Sicily, settled in 8BC. Today, a small museum there houses the beautiful marble sculpture, Ephebe of Mozia, which was expertly carved to show the flow of his garment. The short boat ride to the island is fun, and the lagoon is great for exploring too.
Marsala wine was discovered in the 18th century as part of an experiment in which alcohol was added to the local wine so that it would keep during long sea voyages. The wine became a hit and remained in vogue for over a century! Located near what was once the old port, Florio is one of the most picturesque and historic of the Marsala wineries, producing fortified, passito, and sparkling wines, and offering its visitors an interesting guided tour.
Wine lovers might want to do a different itinerary, spending the early morning visiting Palermo's markets and historic sights, then moving on to a winery for a tour and tastings. I especially like the Tasca d'Almerita winery for its consistent quality of wine, lovely location, and the variety of wines offered at different price ranges. Tasca d'Almerita's Regaleali Estate in Sclafamo Bagni produces about 17 wines. The wines are easily found at good restaurants throughout Italy; especially popular is their red Rosso del Conte, a Rosso DOC Contea di Sclafani specific to the Palermo area that is primarily Nero d'Avola blended with other grapes. However, tasting wines in their own territory is a magnificent experience.
Time permitting, the Duomo or Norman Cathedral of Monreale makes for a lovely excursion outside of Palermo. The enormous decorated bronze doors open into an interior filled with exquisite golden and multi-colored mosaics, and the lovely cloisters and garden offer a tranquil refuge too.