Sicily’s allure is undeniable, but its capital is less universally loved. T+L reveals five compelling reasons to make it a destination.
Because wine tasting is surprisingly sophisticated. Forget cheap reds in straw-covered flasks: Palermo’s wine bars have become seriously chic. Try Vinoveritas(39-091/609-0653) for some 3,000 Italian and international pours and a tasty aperitivo spread; and Enoteca Picone, with its encyclopedic collection of small local producers. Kursaal Kalhesa, built into the medieval city walls, serves a dozen wines by the glass under ancient barrel arches.
High-end hotels are taking to the water, deploying luxury yachts to give guests a taste of the sailing life. In Indonesia, the 151-foot, five-cabin Alila Purnama(pictured; $54,000 a week for up to 10 people) joins Alila’s two terra-firma properties in Bali. The teak-and-rattan phinisi carries guests to neighboring islands for snorkeling and massages on deserted beaches. This winter, Soneva Resorts will launch Soneva in Aqua(from $4,375 a day for up to four people) in the Maldives—the sleek, two-cabin seaborne villa will come complete with a chef, dive master, spa therapist, and 24/7 butler, and will cruise to less-explored atolls and reefs. Also on the horizon: La Sultana Yacht(nine days from $7,545 per person), a sister to hotels in Marrakesh and Oualidia, Morocco. The former Soviet spy ship is getting a serious upgrade and will have seven James Bond–worthy Moorish-style rooms.
You hear a lot these days about the decline of old-school news sources—but kiosks still matter in Europe. They, in fact, are Europe. On a continent where once-pronounced cultural distinctions are muddled more every day by Commission legislation and mega-brand spread, newsstands—with their arcane combinations of press and stuff—are cynosures of the fabric of a place.
I patronize my local newsagent in London because he’s unfailingly kind. But for serious varsity-level browsing, I prefer Wardour News, in Soho—not so much because the vast selection puts my local’s in the shade, as for the reassuring sense that I’m inside an avatar of the London Newsagent Experience. Cheery South Asian proprietor? Check. Baffling proliferation of Japanese style monthlies and Scandinavian architecture monographs? Check. Private Eye, Mini Jaffa Cakes, lager in the cooler? Check, check, and cheers, mate.
The Festival, which runs June 17th-20th in Regent’s Park, is in its seventh year and is more than a food market. It’s more of a pop-up restaurant festival for London’s top chefs to put twists on their standard routines. Names as diverse as The Grill at the Dorchester and Quo Vadis, St. John and Sake No Hana, York & Albany and Tho Randall will all be setting up shop. If you’re in town, it’s a great thing to do for half a day to see celeb chefs at work—and sample their creations. Visit Taste of London website for more info.
Maria Shollenbarger is Travel + Leisure's London stringer.