Palermo, the capital of Sicily, is a bustling metropolitan area with more than a million inhabitants. I was headed there to immerse myself in the history of this ancient settlement, so I definitely wanted to be in the center of the historic city. Most of the must-see sights would be within walking distance.
I found my perfect location in the Palazzo Brunaccini Hotel, Piazzetta Princessa Lucrezia Brunaccini 9, Palermo, Sicily, a boutique hotel with just 18 rooms that’s a short block’s walk from the bustling Ballarò Market (lots of small cafés serving regional specialties as well as the usual booths offering fruits and vegetables, meats and fish, bread, and other items).
I could find no history of the hotel, but it looks like two adjacent houses of the 19th century aristocracy were combined and remodeled to its current use. The guests rooms — no two are alike — have wooden beam ceilings, marble floors, sometimes four-poster beds, many windows, often a balcony or small patio, lots of original art (both contemporary and from earlier eras), and a collection of modern furniture mixed with antiques.
My suite had a winsome Art Nouveau wardrobe in the bedroom and starkly white contemporary furniture in the sitting room (I was lucky enough also to have a vest-pocket patio with a table and two chairs surrounded by greenery).
In all of the rooms you’ll find free WiFi, a minibar, a flat-screen satellite TV, and bathroom with a bidet, hairdryer, and toiletries. In a bid for the wedding market, Palazzo Brunaccini Hotel also has a “deluxe double room” with a Jacuzzi that accommodates two.
An expansive breakfast buffet is included, featuring seasonal fruits and vegetables, a selection of salumi and cheeses, and various breads, including croissants and brioches. You order your preferred hot drink from the wait staff (I had the most marvelous cappuccino every morning…I was in Italy, after all.)
There’s a small lobby right in front of the check-in desk, and a larger lobby for lounging just beyond it. The brown leather armchairs and couches were so comfortable that I usually sat there to do a quick perusal of my email after breakfast.
Not that I spent much time indoors. I wandered for hours in the Old Town, peeking into historic churches, and perusing a couple of museums. Palermo was founded by the Phoenicians in the seventh century BCE, and the area has changed hands many times. Perhaps the most interesting historic sights date to the Norman occupation (about 1130 to 1194) but the Greeks, Romans, Carthaginians, Arabs, Swabians, Spanish, Angevins, and Bourbons all had their turn — and left their mark. Giuseppe Garibaldi entered Palermo with his troops in 1860, on his eventually successful campaign for a united Italy. The Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943 was a major campaign of World War II.
In my bedroom, a former dressing table subbed for a desk.
Rooms start about €130. You can book on the hotel’s website or via one of the hotel booking sites such as Expedia.
(Photos by Susan McKee and courtesy of the Palazzo Brunaccini Hotel)