If you want to escape the stifling chaos of Palermo, fortunately, there is no shortage of attractions in the environs: From the top of its headland, Monte Pellegrino, you can admire some of the most beautiful panoramas in the area, while for some seaside respite, head to Mondello, Palermo's beach of choice.

Monreale would be just another anonymous village if it weren't for its splendid Duomo (cathedral) that is a world treasure, and in the fishing village of Cefalù, a town grew up around the massive Duomo, the first of its kind in the area. From its high perch on top of a rocky crag, Cáccamo dominates the inland with its medieval castle, while aristocrats once made Bagheria home with their baronial manors and villas. For a true removal from civilization, the volcanic island of Ustica offers some of the best diving underwater activities in the Mediterranean.