Veteran anti-Mafia mayor looks to put Palermo on tourist map; Crispian Balmer; Reuters

Italy – Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale

While thousands of migrants reach Sicily each week aboard rescue ships, another sea-borne invasion is under way on the Mediterranean island as hordes of tourists arrive aboard luxury cruise liners.

Palermo was only the 36th most visited city in Italy in 2015 but Mayor Leoluca Orlando says it is set to be in the top 10 this year, marking a turnaround for the Sicilian capital that was once a Mafia battleground shunned by outsiders.

The United Nations cultural body UNESCO recognized the city’s Norman-Arab heritage in 2015, the growing migrant population is being absorbed into the fabric of society, and next year Palermo will be feted as Italy’s capital of culture.

“Palermo used to be the capital of the Mafia, then the capital of the anti-Mafia, today it is the capital of culture,” Orlando told Reuters in an interview.

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