Palermo is not the world's most child-friendly city. Because of roaring, dangerous traffic, it is difficult to walk the city's streets, especially the narrow ones, without constantly keeping an eye out for your bambini. There is one attraction that kids adore in Palermo, however, and that's the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette (International Puppet Museum). Sicilians call their famous puppets pupi, and they are truly works of folkloric art. To see how puppets are actually made, head to the workshop owned by Vincenzo Argento, in Corso Vittorio Emanuele 445 (tel. 091-6113680; www.argentopupi.it). He also puts on daily shows at the Palazzo Asmundo in front of the Cathedral (daily at 5:30pm).
Away from the traffic, noise, and pollution of Palermo, the city's public parks offer refreshing interludes for families. Especially inviting is the landscaped oasis of the Orto Botanico, or botanical gardens.
Another delight for families is a trip up to Monte Pellegrino, a mountain that looms over north Palermo. With its greenery and parkland, the 600m (1,969-ft.) mountain evokes Yosemite. Keep in mind that the park is likely to be crowded on Sundays with Sicilian families in search of a respite from Palermo's smog.
Finally, if you're in Palermo on a summer day, you might want to escape the city altogether and head for Mondello Lido, with its long, sandy beaches. Even on a summer night, this is the place to be; many families can be seen walking along the water and ducking into one of the eateries when the kids get hungry. For more on Mondello Lido,
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