Palermo needs a wide-angle lens, practically and metaphorically. Monumental architecture is stuffed into every available piazza, no sooner am I looking at the Palazzo Reale than I am standing in front of the Cathedral! And the history of the city is wide, and deep, practically every European, Middle Eastern and North African culture has had its day in Sicilia. Architecture, music, food, all represent these traditions. Sicilia is a world in an island.
Palermo is one of my favorite cities, and while I have liked all the places I have stayed here, I think B&B Delle Vittorie is a keeper. Located a few steps from via Maqueda, between Teatro Massimo and Quattro Canti. Beautifully prepared breakfast, dozens of choices of small servings so in four days I almost never had the same thing twice (except for the mini-cannoli). The owner is so enthusiastic about Palermo, he will tailor a map marked up to suit your interests. My room was huge and beautifully appointed. And quiet. The first night I heard music in the distance, opened the window to see an orchestra parading up the street 20 meters away.
First morning, I had to buy a phone, some socks, and get a haircut. Living like a local, indeed! The phone turned out to be an Android, which I like a lot (bye-bye, Apple product line). Socks? my shoes were not as well-broken in as I thought, and the seam across the toes of my socks was killing me (think princess and the pea). H&M to the rescue! So, friends, break in those shoes! Palermo is a place that just makes me want to walk one more block (so does Bologna). Weather has been perfect!
The phone was above my budget point, so I decided to have street food for lunch. Stopped at Ke Palle, across the street from my B&B, for an arancino ("little orange" for its shape and color), a rice ball with filling, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. I got the traditional meat sauce-peas-onion one, it was huge (hence the name of the store - it's a slang expression, Roberto or Dario can explain it to you, I am blushing).
One thing I will splurge on every day is a caffe shakerato, sitting streetside and watching the entertainment. Across from Teatro Massimo was a local caffe and the drink was €2. In the piazza of the Caffe del Teatro, it was €3, still a bargain for a major location. One difference in finding a local caffe as opposed to a more touristed one: the folks who swoop in on your table to ask for money while the waiter is busy inside, don't bother at the local places.
Favorite thing this trip: the Navetta, the little city bus that makes a circuit through the Centro Storico, and it's free! Lots of tourists but also lots of Palermitani use it. Great for resting your tired feet or for getting an orientation to the city. A few of the hop on-hop off buses are minis, too, so they probably get closer to landmarks than the full-size buses can. At the capolinea (terminus), one of the drivers asked if I was Italian, and I said "Italo-Americana", to which he joked, what are you doing here? and I said, very seriously, that Italy is not a destination, it's my blood. I thought for a second that we both might cry.