Sicily's capital Palermo

Notorious and friendly, sensual and shabby, Palermo mixes up a cocktail that leaves visitors gasping for more. Throw in lashings of great food, plenty of theatrically crumbling stucco, and some architectural marvels, and the city’s crusted southern Mediterranean charm leaves you powerless to resist. The cathedral sums up the place: a riotous explosion of styles that resists easy categorisation and begs for exploration. Gothic flourishes rub against Eastern Orientalism, while elsewhere neoclassical and baroque both get a look in. A great, puzzling poem of a place, the mish-mash emphatically works, casting its spell on you as you wander, much like the city itself.

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