Palermo, Italy: Old city vs. new?

Apr 29th, 2010, 01:56 PM
  #1  
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Palermo, Italy: Old city vs. new?

In another post I asked about a few specific hotels, but I now realize my question is really more general: what are the pros and cons of staying in the old city in the south, versus the newer city? I've read conflicting things about the safety of the older neighborhoods, though they sound more atmospheric. In order to get a real sense of the city, is it better to stay in that area, or would it be safer and equally interesting to stay in the more modern part to the north? Thanks.
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May 1st, 2010, 07:40 AM
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Topping to give this another try, thanks.
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May 1st, 2010, 07:55 AM
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I wish I could be more definitive but it is not just an either/or situation. We enjoyed our time in the New City but had to walk further or take a taxi to the far point of the day. Have you read my trip report? Click on my name.
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May 1st, 2010, 08:39 AM
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Yes, Bob, I'd read your Sicily trip report. My main concern is about the safety of walking in the evenings, through both the old and new cities of Palermo. Is there a lot of activity in the evenings in both areas? As you know, some cities are pretty deserted in the evenings at night, especially if they are business centers. I'm having a hard time getting in information about the new city area, whether it's primarily office buildings and high end shops - so that it could be a problem walking around at night, without people present.

Also, btw -- you mention that they're still restoring the Duomo in Noto. Is it restored enough to enter and enjoy it?

Thanks.
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May 1st, 2010, 09:14 AM
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Ed: There should be lots of life on the streets allowing you to walk home after dinner with no problem. Remember that the "new" city refers to the areas laid out in the late 1800s and filled with both 19th- and 20th Century structures. One street, technically in this part of Palermo, is Via Principe di Belmonte which was very lively with a fairly upscale crowd when I was there a few years ago. I stayed in the "new" area, on Piazza Florio near Villa Roma and I considered that to be a good location.

Which hotels are you considering?
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May 1st, 2010, 09:33 AM
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The cathedral in Noto has been reopened.
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May 1st, 2010, 09:48 AM
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We saw the new city as a cafe society not unlike what you would find in Milan or many European cities. Very nice walking and shopping. The only seedy areas were near the water and the port.
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May 1st, 2010, 09:49 AM
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My preference to sleep is in the new City near Politeama. I've stayed in the old city (Albergheria) because I thought it was easier for transportation, but really all the buses go to Politeama anyway. It is pretty dead at night, a bit unsafe and more so at night, and it is harder to find somewhere to dine especially after dark when everything seems to shut down too early. It is however charming during the day in that old decaying way, and enjoying an espresso with locals around. Politeama on the other hand had more people out on the streets after dark, more dining choices and a more lively atmosphere.
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May 1st, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Thanks, Nadia. We have reservations now at the Hotel Garibaldi, right at Politeama. It's sounding like that's a good base to explore the city. Are you familiar with that hotel by any chance? And do you know if buses leave for Monreale from Politeama?
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May 1st, 2010, 10:50 AM
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Buses for Monreale, as I pointed out in one of your other Palermo threads, leave from Piazza Indipendenza.
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May 1st, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Ed: I stayed a couple of blocks from the Garibaldi. It is a very good area in which to stay.
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May 1st, 2010, 11:21 AM
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No you need to catch one of the busses like 104 or 108 from Politeama that go to Piazza Indipendenza (or other ones that make there way there from other stops-or a very indirect way by taking a bus to stazione central and then another to Indipendeza) From Piazza Indipendenza catch the #389 bus to Monreal. The city buses are really fast and really good so even though it sounds complicated, it really isn't. Here are the city bus lines.
http://www.amat.pa.it/Le_Linee/le_linee.htm
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May 1st, 2010, 08:53 PM
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Thanks, Nadia. It actually seems very straightforward. I'm curious now, though. On my other thread I was advised against keeping my car overnight in a garage at the hotel in Palermo, and driving the next AM to Monreale before returning the car around noon -- all on a weekday. I'm not usually at all squeamish about driving in difficult traffic in non-US cities. Do you know why I might be admonished against the drive to Monreale? On the map it appears to be an easy half hour drive into the suburbs.
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May 2nd, 2010, 08:19 AM
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Actually weekdays are more chaotic than weekends for traffic in the cities. Honestly, unless you drive a motercycle(and drive one like a local), you will waste your valuable time and lose any patience left in Palermo. Especially since you had a long day of driving and stoping in places along the way from Siricusa. The best way to drive in Palermo is by scooter and even they are the craziest drivers. Just driving in Palermo to your hotel, you will need a lot of patience to persevere. Pray that you don't take a wrong turn and end up on a sidestreet which will bring you through an endless maze of narrow sidestreets with parked cars on either side and people zigzagging across. I can't imagine having that kind of patience,not just with traffic but crazy drivers and probably would just give up, ditch the car on a sidewalk and walk to my hotel. Maybe someone who has done it will give you insight on experience. But know that Palermo is something you have never seen before.
Why you would admonish the drive to Monreale is because the bus is the easiest way there. In 30 minutes you are there, without any stress and lost time of driving in chaos and without wasting your time in Monreal trying forever to find parking. When you take the bus,you will see how easy it is. Also in Palermo, they have a city hop on hop off that you can enjoy getting around to all the sites. Walking and taking the bus, you'll enjoy it.
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May 2nd, 2010, 09:00 AM
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Nadia: You forgot to mention all of the one-way streets!

We walked from our hotel on Pza Florio to the Avis office, where we retrieved our car and drove less than a mile back to the hotel to pick up our bags. This was not an experience I would recommend trying to duplicate! I will say that once out of Palermo, the driving in Sicily was very easy.
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May 2nd, 2010, 02:23 PM
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I remember having a very difficult experience driving in Glasgow a few years back, with one way roads, restricted access roads, unrestricted cross traffic, etc. -- and the happiest moment of that visit was when we finally found the car rental office and could return the vehicle. I used to look at experiences such as you all describe in Palermo as adventures, but I guess I'm getting too old to want the unnecessary hassle at this point.

Assuming we drop the car at the airport the evening we get to Palermo and take the bus to Politeama, does anyone know what the bus fare might be?
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May 3rd, 2010, 03:25 AM
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5.80 euro, according to this site:

http://www.gesap.it/index2.php3?op=212&lang=it
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May 7th, 2010, 07:19 PM
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Thanks very much. Sounds like ditching the rental car at the airport makes a lot of sense -- particularly because the airport shuttle will then drop us off right near our hotel, the Garibaldi. We'll take the bus to Monreale the next morning, and save ourselves some headaches. I appreciate all the great advice.
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