Episode #043: Palermo: a base for excursions in Sicily

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Listen to “Exciting excursions from Palermo” on Spreaker.


Heading to Palermo? There is so much to see in Sicily’s capital but it’s also a useful base if you want to explore the North Western corner of the island. Sicily travel expert Karen La Rosa joins us again to share her favorite excursions that you can take from the city.

Show notes
It never ceases to amaze how rich Sicily is when it comes to unique experiences, history, landscapes, food, and wine. Within easy reach of the capital Palermo, you’ll find pretty beachside towns, wine regions to explore, and ancient ruins to marvel at. No matter your interests, you’ll find plenty to do in this region.

On the show today we explore several excursions from Palermo with Karen La Rosa who has spent many days and weeks exploring the region. We visit a hilltop town famous for its castle and delicious sweets, an area renowned for salt pans and windmills, and a place where you can learn all about the tuna fishing tradition and ritual of mattanza.

By the end of this episode, you’ll be planning a Sicilian adventure to try the seafood couscous dishes flavored with saffron and visit the wineries in Marsala. Or perhaps the sound of swimming off the shores of Cefalù followed by aperitivo overlooking the sea is more appealing. Whatever you choose, you’ll no doubt be seduced by Sicily.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  1. What places you can reach from Palermo.. including
  2. A beautiful beach town on a pretty bay with incredible views and wonderful restaurants
  3. A town with ancient ruins and wineries close by
  4. Hilltop castle town with vistas over the countryside
  5. A city where you can find some of the best fish dishes in Sicily and visit spectacular islands
  6. Fortified wine area where tasting is a must
  7. A place where you’ll find salt pans and windmills

About our guest – Karen La Rosa

karen la rosa - la rosa works

Karen is a tour operator and owner of La Rosa Works that specializes in travel to Sicily. For more than 10 years, she has been promoting travel to the island, bringing small to medium-sized groups to join her, and designing and arranging itineraries and tours for independent travelers.

Sicily is Karen’s heritage and her passion. That love evolved into a highly respected boutique travel business. Karen shares the island’s beating heart with her clients – from authentic, historical, and off-the-beaten-path experiences, to the contemporary and entrepreneurial efforts that represent the new paths in present-day Sicily.

Karen’s tours are immersive and fun with expert guides, wine and food always the protagonists. Karen’s website, her YouTube channel, and social media presence are all aimed at engaging people interested in exploring Sicily’s fascinating history, stunning beauty, warm hospitality and some say, the best food and wine in Italy. Her clients write reviews that are amazing and a true testament to her kindness, generosity and passion for Sicily.

Karen is an Italian Wine Specialist, speaks Italian and has visited the Sicily countless happy times.

You can also find Karen on these social media channels:

Places and services mentioned in the show

  • Cefalù – seaside town you can visit easily from Palermo by train, bus or private transfer
  • Museo Mandralisca – small and interesting museum in Cefalù
  • Via Bordonaro – street where you’ll find many charming  restaurants
  • Enoteca La Petite Tonneau (Via Vittorio Emanuele, 49 | +39 0921 421 447) – reserve for drinks and nibbles on the little terrace overlooking the sea.
  • Segesta – visit to see the Temple of Segesta and Amphitheater and wineries – Alessandro di Camporeale, Elios, Porto al Vento (more info – wineries)
  • Erice – hilltop medieval town overlooking Trapani known for sweets and pastries especially Maria Grammatico(Via Vittorio Emanuele, 14 | +39 0923 869 390). Watch Karen’s video or read this book: Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood (Mary Taylor Simeti and Maria Grammatico) to learn more.  Pasticceria San Carlo is run by women who were in the convent with Maria. (Via San Domenico, 18 | +39 0923 869 586)
  • Trapani – coastal city with great seafood restaurants and ferries to the Egadi islands
    Cantina Siciliana Ristorante (Via Giudecca, 36 | +39 0923 28673) Chef Pino Maggiore. Try the Seafood Cous Cous. Tell Pino I sent you!
  • Marsala – place to go to taste Marsala fortified wine. Popular wineries include Florio or smallerMarco de Bartoli andAlagna Vini(appointments required)
  • Mozia – famous for Salina di Laguna (Salt Pans) and the Whittaker Museum

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