Is Palermo dangerous?

Oct 28th, 2007, 02:32 PM
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Is Palermo dangerous?

I was thinking about going to Palermo on vacation but in many of the places I was reading it warned me of "being out on the streets at night", "walking alone during the day", "youngsters with knives". It sound like an interesting place but the thought of getting mugged at night doesn't sound like fun.....
richardab is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 03:12 PM
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Palermo is no more or no less dangerous than other large cities. Use the same common sense there that you would use anywhere. Just like all big cities there are areas where it's not smart to hang around.
Palermo is a beautiful city with lots to do. In my opinion the reason many tourist see it that way is because it's a real working city. It's lifes blood is not tourism. It lacks some of the things tourist expect like signs in 12 languages, tour guides around every corner and service people being pleasant for a nice tip, sorry, I mean just to be helpful.
I can't even count how many times I've been to Palermo in my life and have never had a problem. It's my favorite city in Italy.
TravMimi is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 04:47 PM
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Regarding Palermo: A friend and I traveled to Sicily in March. We came 1 1/2 days, in Palermo, prior to joining a tour, and while on the tour had at least one day on our own. We did not have any feeling of danger. However, we were alert and did not have purses hanging from our shoulders, etc. I don't remember how late in the evening we returned to our hotel after dinner, but again, did not feel threatened.

We found Palermo to be a very interesting city. On one day, we took the train to Cefalu, a seaport town, and enjoyed it very much. We also used public transportation while there and found it to be quick and reliable.

People can get "mugged" anywhere. I would't be out on the streets in the dead of night, but people who take precautions are not usually in anymore danger than one might be in their hometown. Ciao. mhm
mercy is offline  
Oct 28th, 2007, 06:28 PM
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I just found it a bit concerning considering the warnings I read.
richardab is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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Hi, richardab -

As TravMimi and mercy said, common sense is always appropriate. There are parts of Palermo - like La Kalsa - where I didn't feel very comfortable alone late at night, but there were other parts where I felt perfectly comfortable. IMHO, it would be a shame to skip Palermo out of fear. And if you do go, be sure to visit the Cathedral in Monreale!

Hope that helps.
kja is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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We (2 adults, 2 teens) were in Palermo for the first time this summer. We stayed in the newer part of the city but walked all over, at least during the day. We did stay close to our hotel at night but it was more because we were so tired from walking all day!

We were warned by our hotel to be careful and I had read all the warnings previously as well. We were also stopped a few times by shopkeepers and told to hold onto our purses and be careful. I really don't know what they were talking about because I never felt in danger in any way. It was a big lively city with lots of people walking about - my kind of place! The traffic was a little crazy - you had to be careful crossing the street - but the people were just great. I'd go back without hesitation.
AtlTravelr is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 12:29 PM
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We docked in Palermo with a cruise ship. We could not get a rental car at the port but had to hire a taxi for the day. All the taxis belonged to one "organization".

The taxi driver was extremely well-educated and courteous. He told us to leave all valuables, cameras etc. in the car when we went visiting attractions. He would go into a café and leave the car unlocked. Of course, nobody dared to touch the car and our valuables.

At the end of day, he kissed my MIL and refused any tip.

To sum up: Palermo is the world's safest city - if you are in the hands of the "organization". Absolutely. Unless you are starting some kind of business there without asking the "organization".
traveller1959 is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 01:01 PM
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He kissed your what?
richardab is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 01:10 PM
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Don't get too alarmed - Traveller1959 means her mother-in-law.
WillTravel is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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A taxi driver that refused a tip?? That's like finding Bigfoot. Hope you took a pic.
TravMimi is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 04:49 PM
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He kissed her MIL? Oh dear!
richardab is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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DD was there alone and had no problems at all (except for guys coming on to her, but hey, it's Italia, right, and she knew how to tell them off in Italian ). But danger, no problema.
artlover is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 08:26 PM
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They have some very sweet folk from Palermo, like this darling darling musician whom I met just tonight from Palermo who lives in Rome now- fabulous violinist, my god what a program-quintet from Rome, one time only in the US-I told him I knew other parts of Sicilia but not Palermo, and he said I would really enjoy Palermo, and I thought, "yeah, I would, certamente, moltissimo, ma con te, caro!"
Girlspytravel is offline  
Oct 29th, 2007, 09:14 PM
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I literally just returned from Palermo a few hours ago. We were in the historic area and loved every minute of it. We went out at night and during the day. Everyone was wonderful and we never felt intimidated. As all posters have said, you have to use care wherever you go.
Ann1 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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You know, even without that too cute musician I met yesterday evening, I intended to go to Palermo last year while in Italy and quite regret that I did not. The great thing is you can fly into Palermo from Venice or Rome on Alpi Eagles or Windjet, for quite reasonable fares, depending on dates, and the flights take all of an hour and a half from Venice Marco Polo to Palermo.
Girlspytravel is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 07:24 AM
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traveller1959, I must counter your suggestion that organized criminals are just some kind of ruthless romantics in whose hands you are safe so long as you don't cross them.

It is not us crossing them that is the problem, it is them crossing us and the social systems that were developed to protect us. I would not, for example, feel especially safe in a building which, at the time of its construction, was safety inspected by someone in the hands of what you refer to as 'the organization'. The only thing they can organize is a funeral - they are incompetent at anything else.

From collapsing apartment buildings to tainted dog food to children being shot dead in the crossfire of 'gang revenge' shootings, corruption is sooner or later a disaster that dwarfs, by many times, the inconvenience of us tourists having to wear money belts and/or hug closely to our bodies our cameras.

Richardab, one of the co-authors of Frommer's guidebook to Sicily worked and lived, and for all I know still does, in Miami. You remember Miami, which for a time became infamous for tourist murders in the years after Hurricane Andrew. (At least one writer puts this down to tourists being misguided into the 'wrong' areas by highway signs which had been twisted by the force of the storm, but I digress.)

The point is that such a person would not be insensitive to tourist crime, yet while he emphasizes taking precautions against pickpockets and purse-snatchers in Palermo, warns women alone not to wander down lonely alleys at any time, and mourns the traffic that is simultaneously noisy, dirty, and dangerous, he doesn't warn the traveller away. I take heart from this, and hope you will too. (I also, in light of my above rebuttal to traveller1959, take heart from his belief that the Mafia, while far from gone completely, are a weakening force.)
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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We were in Palermo in Sept 06 and loved it. We stayed at the Hotel Ambasciatori on Via Roma, one of the main streets. It's within walking distance of the train station and, because the hotel is on the 5th and 6th floors, it is somewhat insulated from the noise of the traffic. The rooftop garden and breakfast area provide a stunning view of the city.

My one caution: Do not attempt to drive in Palermo. Imagine NYC on its worst day, and you have Palermo on its best. Red lights are considered suggestions, and Vespas and even the occasional donkey cart -- we saw one actually racing through the streets -- vie for space. One native of Palermo province, who lives about an hour from the city, told us he lies awake at night any time he has a trip planned for the next day in Palermo. One morning, it took an hour to get from downtown to the autostrada -- a 10 min trip late at night. There was a couple from the UK whom we saw at breakfast but not thereafter. I'm convinced they are still stuck at a circle -- rotary in the UK -- waiting their turn in the queue. ;-]

The solution is simple: Rent your car from the airport to visit other sites and leave it there and take the train to and from Palermo.
pjsmart is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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Pj: "Red lights are considered suggestions, and Vespas and even the occasional donkey cart- we saw one actually racing through the streets -- vie for space"

Donkey cart racing-ohmigod-that made me laugh-love that! Makes we want to go to Palermo tomorrow (oh, and very informative post to boot!)
Girlspytravel is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 09:40 AM
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OK, Palermo's traffic can be dangerous. I've seen cars in traffic jams go up on the sidewalk between the tables and the cafe door. A car in line in a traffic jam driving backwards. Man on Vespa holding lead of a horse. Couldn't tell if he was leading the horse or the horse was towing his broken down Vespa. People pushing a car on to a sidewalk to let a gigantic tour bus squeeze through. Man walking on bumpers to cross the street. Amazing thing is, I have never seen an accident or person hit. So I guess it's really pretty safe. Just remember, there are no rules so expect anything.
TravMimi is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 04:15 PM
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I have read everything now - they are not kidding about the driving. We just got back from Palermo last week and it was 1 of the highlights of our trip to Sicily - the other being Mt. Etna.

We stayed at Villa Franca thanks to all the great advise from Fodorites. It was in a quiet, neighborhood within walking distance of transportation.(PiPi Room was one of our best meals and it's 2 blocks away.) We never had to take a taxi because the bus system took us anywhere we wanted to go.

We found the people to be helpful and friendly but not much English is spoken but then again, we don't speak any Italian.

How can anyone go to Sicily and not visit one of their treasures. Palermo rocks!
carmar is offline  

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