Monte Pellegrino is hard to miss while in Palermo, rising almost 2,000 ft from the Thyrennian Sea right in the middle of the city. While one can drive up Monte Pellegrino, or hop on one of the many tour buses ascending the mountain, it's worthwhile venturing on foot on the old Via Santuario Monte Pellegrino, now converted into a footpath. Along the way you can visit Santuario di Santa Rosalia, a 17th century church built into the mountainside, and catch spectacular views at the Belvedere di Monte Pellegrino. Even if you don't plan on hiking all the way up, within the first mile you will have great views of Palermo.
Via Santuario Monte Pellegrino immediately starts ascending, and in a half mile you will begin switchbacking over scenic stone bridges. You will cross the road, Via Bonanno Pietro a number of times, and then continue up until transitioning onto a road. A short while later, you will pass by the viewpoint of Pizzo Croce, which is worth spending a few minutes to enjoy the view, before descending down to the Santuario di Santa Rosalia. This is a good turnaround point if you are tired, however you can continue along the side of Via Padre Giordano Cascini for roughly a mile and a half until it dead ends at the Belvedere di Monte Pellegrino, which has amazing views. From here, retrace your steps back down to the bottom. The 812 bus stops at both aforementioned locations, and can be combined with the hike to reduce the mileage.
After a nice hike up Monte Gallo the previous day, I decided to tackle Monte Pellegrino. There looked to be a nice pedestrian trail that went close to Santuario di Santa Rosalia, a 17th century church built into the side of the mountain, which looked to be worth a visit. I was able to find parking near the start of the trail, and was on my way hiking a little before 9am.
The trail is actually the old road up Monte Gallo, and begins its gradual ascent immediately, heading straight up the mountain side. The trail is wide and has cobblestones under foot, and while it's fine to walk on, it's hard to imagine traveling the road via car, or for that matter a horse and cart.
About a quarter mile later, the trail starts switchbacking across the mountain via a series of impressive stone bridges. This was one of my favorite parts of the hike, as it was quite scenic and I was already starting to get some nice views of Palermo. I'm guessing the road and bridges aren't that old, but it felt like it could have been built by the romans!
While I was making my way up the switchbacks, in total 11 I believe, I could hear an occasional bus honk. It seemed to be quite regular, and I think the tour buses may have been honking for any oncoming traffic as they made their way up the road, which looked to have a similar number of tight switchbacks. The trail eventually crossed the road, and there was a large tour bus pulled over, complete with tourists snapping photos of the vista of Palermo.
The trail continued to ascend and crossed the road a handful of times, albeit with fewer switchbacks. Eventually it more or less straightened out and I caught some nice views along the way. I passed a few folks on my way up, but otherwise there weren't many folks on the trail.
Eventually the trail merged onto a paved road, and it looked like the old road, Via Santuario Monte Pellegrino headed southeast and presumably towards the summit on Monte Pellegrino. While looking at the hike the day before, I had read there weren't really any views at the top, and it was just a bunch of communication towers and infrastructure. Given that was the opposite way of the church, I decided to skip that and proceed on towards the church.
A couple of hundred yards later I passed by a sign for a panoramic view point at Pizzo Croce, and made a slight detour to check it out. On a small hill, there were remnants of an old structure, and the area wasn't particularly beautiful, but it did provide great views in a number of different directions and is worth checking out.
From Pizzo Croce, the road descended a bit and then arrived at some stairs leading up to Santuario di Santa Rosalia. There were around 4 tour buses parked at the base of the church, however there weren't too many people inside. It's impressive how they built the church into the side of the mountain, and part of the inside is almost cavelike. Another stop worth checking out on the hike.
After visiting the church, I decided to keep hiking up the road to a viewpoint. I had gone roughly 2.5 miles and 1,300 ft of vertical, but it was still pretty early in the day, and felt like getting some more exercise. There was no trail at this point, I had to walk along the side of the road. However, there wasn't much traffic, with only a couple of cars and buses passing me as I hiked along the road.
The road ends at large parking lot at the Belvedere di Monte Pellegrino, which features a large statue of Santa Rosalia. The parking lot was virtually empty with a couple of cars, and I had the place to myself. You can walk around the statue to a view area, and get nice views of Palermo. I was glad I made the extra trek out here.
After soaking in the views, I began the hike back down, retracing my steps. As I passed by Santuario di Santa RosaliaI considered stopping for a quick coffee at one of the restaurants on the street, but opted to continue on my way. If you are in Palermo and looking for an easy access hike with nice views, I would highly recommend this one!