Palermo is a city which almost inevitably gives the tourist wandering through its ancient streets the impression of being immersed in a film set. The vibrant market of Vucciria is the symbol of old Palermo, where the air is filled with the intoxicating scents of the Mediterranean. Passing through the doors of the city's cathedral or those of the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, visitors are transported some 1000 years back in time, when these splendid works of Arabian-Norman architecture were first built. The Palatine Chapel, situated within the Palazzo dei Normanni, is another of this majestic Sicilian city's most important houses of worship.

Just 8kms from Palermo, in Monreale, we find perhaps the finest example of Arabian-Norman architecture in the whole of Sicily. The Duomo, featuring a staggering two hundred columns and numerous exquisite mosaics, is bound to leave the onlooker speechless.

Travelling towards Trapani, we make a first stop at Alcamo. This is where Ciullo d'Alcamo was born: among the first Sicilian poets to have written verses in Italian. The town's attractive churches are adorned with sculptures and paintings, typical of the Sicilian tradition. Not to be missed, the Castle once belonging to the Counts of Modica and the Torre de Bellis.

Whilst in the area it is worth making time to visit Calatafimi, famous for its Festa del Santissimo Crocefisso, a popular festival held every five years at the start of May, and famous for the striking bread sculptures, also known as trophies, made by the locals for the occasion.

On the slopes of Mount Barbero, the Segesta Temple is one of the most important and best conserved examples of Doric art. Higher up the mountain, there is the ancient theatre, the immense steps of which were carved directly out of the rock face. Also to be seen, the village of Erice, which rests at the feet of a sanctuary dedicated to Venus, goddess of fertility and protector of sailors. From here, on clear days, a magnificent view of the Egadi islands can be enjoyed.

The ancient Drepanum, today's Trapani, is famous for its jewellery made from coral. Fabulous examples of this ancient craft tradition can be admired in the Pepoli Museum which also houses a canvas depicting St Francis, painted by Titian.

Journeying onwards, along the coast in the direction of Marsala, we come to the Gulf of Stagnone where to take a boat to the island of San Pantaleo and observe the traces of the ancient Phoenician city of Mozia. On the island there is also a little museum in which to admire a statue knwn as the Mozia Youth dating back to the 5th century B.C.

In the Kasbah of Mazara del Vallo there are still evident signs of the town's past domination by the Arabs. This is the perfect place where to taste excellent cuscus served from one of the stalls lining the narrow lanes and alleyways. Just a few kilometers from Mazara del Vallo, lies the town of Delia with its Holy Trinity Church, built in Arabian-Norman style.

On the coast, the ruins of the Selinunte acropolis and the archaeological site of Eraclea Minoa prepare visitors for their entry in to the magnificent Valley of the Temples of Agrigento. We make our last stop at the little-known Caltabellotta. Kal At Al-Ballut (Fortress of Oaks for the Arabs) may not boast buildings or monuments of any great importance, but is enveloped in a quite unique and magical atmosphere which the visitor is unlikely to forget.