Kate Finnigan, The Daily Telegraph, October 28, 2013
Brilliantly placed for exploring, Allakala is a B&B overlooking the port and offering a cool slice of contemporary design. Doubles from £85; allakala.it
A more family- or group-friendly option is to rent a villa in the seaside suburb of Mondello (where fashionable Palermians weekend). Villa Itaca sleeps six to 11 people. From £3,870 per week; thinksicily.com
Casa del Brodo has been an institution for more than a century. The name translates as “soup house”, and they do a mean broth (try the broad-bean with fennel), and meat and fish tasting menus. casadelbrodo.it
It’s hard to avoid street food in Palermo, and why would you want to? Try panelle e crocchè (a chickpea and chip butty) from a stall or at the Antica Focacceria San Francesco, a restaurant in an old palazzo owned by a brave gent who has denounced the Mafia publicly in recent years.
Set on the pedestrianised via Principe di Belmonte, near the upscale shopping area of via Libertà, Antico Caffè Spinnato is great for people-watching. It has twice been voted the best café in Italy. spinnato.it
There’s a less-polished – but authentic – drinking experience to be had in the Vucciria market at Taverna Azzurra (its sign says maggiore). Amazing wines by the plastic glass from €1.
The city’s branch of the Italian department-store chain La Rinascente has four floors of fashion, cosmetics, homeware and food. Take a break at the rooftop terrace and bar, which overlooks the church of San Domenico. rinascente.it
Pick up La Dolce Vita-style sunglasses at Magazzini Anita, a small vintage store not far from the Antica Focacceria. Via A Paternostro n. 47
Palermo’s famous ancient markets, Ballaro, Vucciria and Capo, are shrinking by the year. But they’re still a must-visit, for their atmosphere as well as for their lovely fresh vegetables, meat, fish and household goods.
Don’t miss the stunning mosaics at the Palatine chapel – or at the duomo of Monreale, outside the town, which inspired Dolce & Gabbana’s current collection. Take the 389 bus from the Piazza Indipendenza.
The Duchess of Palma, no less, holds cookery lessons at the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi (where di Lampedusa wrote The Leopard). thinksicily.com
Shake off the city dust with an excursion to the Regaleali wine estate, a lush country idyll and the rural home of the noble Tasca d’Almerita family. tascadalmerita.it/en/tenute/regaleali
easyJet flies from London Gatwick to Palermo ( easyjet.com )