Destination / Wish You Were Here

Take us to the Sicilian summer

Vacanze estive. Roadside market stalls and post-swim aperitivos, wearing coloured swimwear and of course, Missoni. Fashion Editor Bridie Gilbert takes us on a whirlwind visit to the Sicilian capital of Palermo and its jewel –  the Palazzo Lanza Tomasi.

Stay …
At the Butera 28 apartments, on the grounds of the 17th century Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, situated in the Arab quarter of Palermo, Sicily. The Palazzo has a fascinating history, most notably as it was the last home of Prince Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa who authored the well-loved Italian classic The Leopard, it’s now the home of the Duke and Duchess of Palma – Gioacchino and Nicoletta Lanza Tomasi. There are nods to its dazzling past throughout the building – from the beautiful architectural flourishes, the lavish gardens and greenery crawling down the balconies in the centre courtyard, to the framed 1963 poster of The Leopard on the landing of our apartment floor. We stayed in apartment 13, split over two floors with a lovely blue and white hand painted tiled kitchen, sweet balcony overlooking the centre courtyard and original stained wooden staircases leading up to the bedroom.

Take …
Italian summer calls for light layers, coloured swimwear, leather sandals and a woven basket from the roadside market to throw everything into before stopping off for aperitivo.

Taste …
Besides being an encyclopaedia for the history of Palermo, the Duchess Nicoletta is also an incredible cook and hosts Sicilian cooking lessons that start with a trip to il Capo food market to choose seasonal ingredients. We return to the Palazzo to pick herbs from its luscious organic garden and begin preparations in the kitchen, before enjoying the fruits of our labour together in the Palazzo’s dining room. For modern Sicilian we were suggested by good (Italian) friends to visit Gagini’s, and we haven’t stopped talking about the local Sicilian prosecco, delicious gluten-free black spaghetti or the pistachio covered raspberry gelato ever since.

Shop …
Roadside market stalls, or any of the many flea markets that become night markets as the sun goes down. I also always love Italian cities for their slightly dated lingerie and swim stores, or even better – the basics and underwear stores run by old nonnas and nonnos, usually be found on a corner with an interesting window display of pinned up undergarments.

Insider tip …
Manifesta is in its twelfth year and is in Palermo for 2018. Not to be missed is the Palazzo Butera, next door to Palazzo Lanza Tomasi, as well as the Archivio di stato, Santa Maria dello spasimo and the Chiesa dell’Origlione. You should also take the time to meet with the Duchess Nicoletta, and perhaps if you’re lucky she will give you a tour of the beautiful Palazzo which houses all the really special mementos, like the original etchings of Giocchino’s mother drawn by Picasso himself.

What are friends for?