Think Palermo and you probably imagine crowded city streets rather than golden beaches. But just twenty minutes’ drive from the bustle of the inner city is the seaside town of Mondello. Once a thriving fishing village, the locals historically made their living catching tuna off the west coast of Sicily. When the industry dried up, locals quickly recognized the potential of the wide, picturesque bay. With its fine, golden sand and clear turquoise waters, Mondello became a popular destination for wealthy Sicilians.
Today, rows of pastel-colored beach huts snake across the sand. Mahogany-hued Sicilians laze on sun beds while enterprising locals trawl the hot sands selling ice-cold drinks. Farther out to sea, windsurfers and sailboats dot the horizon.
Follow the palm tree-lined streets to the tiny town center, and you will see that Mondello still trades heavily on its fishing heritage. The marina is full of pleasure crafts and fishing boats. A clutch of waterside cafes and restaurants serve calamari, sea urchins, and shrimps, literally plucked from the ocean and served onto your plate.
From here you have a clear view across the bay to the imposing rock slopes of Monte Pellegrino, where the bones of Santa Rosalia, the patron saint of Palermo, were discovered in a cave in 1624. Santa Rosalia is believed to have saved the city from the Black Plague, and every year, on July 14, locals celebrate with a festival and a procession through Palermo. From the summit of Monte Pellegrino, you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views across the Mediterranean.