Project Description

1 – The Grandiose Baroque of Casa Professa

Each area shows an uninterrupted mantle of decorations, composed by many different elements: flowers, fruits, leaves, animals, putti, in a marble inlay of extreme mobility and grace, in an infinite range of colours.
The Church of Jesus, better known as Casa Professa, stands on a rise rich in dark recesses where, according to tradition, once took refuge holy hermits and where there are still early Christian catacombs. The first building on the balcony was a convent of Basilian monks, built in the ninth century.

Since then, several buildings have been built here, including five churches that were absorbed by the first Jesuit church, founded in 1564. Later on, this church was incorporated into another, whose construction was undertaken in 1591 and finished in 1633. A violent bombardment in 1943 destroyed much of the prestigious monument.

Chiesa di Casa Professa – ph. Mannarano

The repair has led to the restoration of almost all the stucco and frescoes, giving the church its original appearance. The interior blends late Renaissance rigor with the new Baroque spatiality.

Info and opening time

2 – Le stanze al Genio Museum

The name refers to the nearby Fontana del Genio in Palermo, in Piazza Rivoluzione. After crossing the great portal, we will be attracted by the rich pavement and the original frescoes of the palace of the end of the eighteenth century.

What will be presented in front of us is a unique collection in the world of over 2300 Italian majolica tiles. They are the tiles of an enormous artistic puzzle coming from southern Italy,  especially from Campania and Sicily, of a period that goes from the end of the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. The collectors, owners of the palace, will lead us into a world where art has the measurements of a small square that can be walked on.

Visit Le stanze al Genio Museum  (Italian language only)

3 – Walking in Mondello

A dazzling sand, very clear, acts as a palette to the sea, the sun and clouds that paint endless shades, from turquoise to emerald green. Colours that remain etched in the memory. A long beach with a gentle decline in the sea that offers, from spring to autumn, a safe bathing for those less able to swim and for children.

The promenade beneath the tall maritime pines, among palm trees and sporadic Liberty villas, will allow us to put our thoughts in order, chat, jog or simply breathe the beneficial smell of the sea rich in iodine.

Palermo - Golfo di Mondello

Gulf of Mondello

The seaside village – called “the square” – is waiting to help us refresh with its cafes and restaurants on the sea, or the take away seafood, the sandwiches tasty prêt à porter. The bathing season runs from May to September: in this period the beach is equipped with deck chairs and umbrellas and with the characteristic colourful wooden cabins. Mondello abandons his solitary and thoughtful winter look and fills up with carefree voices, sunscreens and guys on mopeds. The change of season is marked by the World Festival On The Beach, the famous international festival of water activities, which usually takes place between May and June.

4 – A première at the Massimo Theatre

An opera in the largest opera house in Italy, the third largest European opera house after the Paris Opera and the Vienna State Opera..

Massimo Theatre

Symbol of the grandeur of the Liberty period in which Palermo was so beautiful and elegant as to fascinate and host the most coveted European courts. The theatre was started in 1875 by the architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile and completed by his son Ernesto. Today you can plan a visit to the city and then attend a premiere of opera, ballet or symphonic music, still rediscovering the atmosphere of the glorious times of the Florio Family.

Teatro Massimo

5 – Puppet Theatre – UNESCO Heritage

It is the first Italian Heritage that UNESCO, in 2008, has included in the list of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Throughout the island you can see representations of the Opera dei Pupi with good puppet artists who have made this tradition an icon of world art. The theatrical venues in Palermo, together with the Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum, are a truly unique attraction.

Puppet Theatre – Ph. Eric Vanderville

6 – Palazzo Comitini, Palazzo Sant’Elia, Palazzo delle Ferrovie and Palazzo Jung

Let’s discover some of the most fascinating historic buildings in Palermo.
A pedestrian route that starts from Via Maqueda, where we find Palazzo Comitini and Palazzo Sant’Elia.

Palazzo Comitini

Palazzo Comitini – Ph Terradamare

Then we cross the axis of Via Roma to discover the former Railway Palace. Finally, we reach Via Lincoln to admire Palazzo Jung.
This is how we grasp the different souls of Palermo: the baroque one with Palazzo Comitini and Palazzo Sant’Elia, the two eighteenth-century palaces with majestic facades. Then we move to the Déco soul with the architecture of the early ‘900 of the former Palazzo delle Ferrovie. And finally, to the belle époque with the 19th century Jung Palace and its tropical garden.

7 – Emotional Tour – Catacombs of the Capuchins

A place where you wouldn’t even go dead? They all say that, then they go to see them. There are 8,000 mummified bodies: from the Capuchins, to the representatives of noble families, from the bourgeoisie to the representatives of the clergy.
The state of preservation of the countless corpses on display, make the cemetery of the Convent of the Capuchin Friars, known as the Catacombs of the Capuchins of Palermo, one of the most impressive places to be visited in the world. A macabre show that highlights the uses, customs and traditions of the city of Palermo, from who lived from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century. Here is preserved also the most beautiful mummy in the world: the young Rosalia.

Catacombs

8 – Palazzo Abatellis, Palazzo Mirto, Piazza Marina, Villa Garibaldi, Palazzo Steri

Abatellis Palace. The Annunciation by Antonello da Messina, alone, is worth a visit… In the ancient district of Kalsa, the Abatellis Palace since the ’50s houses the Regional Gallery of Modern Art, curated by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. This residence of Francesco Abatellis, master Portulano of the Kingdom, dates back to the end of the fifteenth century and is a magnificent example of Gothic-Catalan architecture. After Francesco’s wife death, the palace underwent several modifications until it became the Monastery of Santa Maria della Pietà. During World War II, the structure was severely damaged and then restored by the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa. The aim of the project was to create harmony between the structure and the works it kept inside. The exhibition was divided into sections: a collection, for the most part, of sculptural works was placed on the ground floor and the first floor was intended for paintings.
The arrangement of the works is innovative: the use of metal or wooden supports on coloured funds of panels in fabric, Venetian stucco or wood, enhances the beauty of the paintings.
In the wonderful rooms of the historical palace, we find important masterpieces by Domenico and Antonello Gagini, Filippo Paladini, Antonello da Messina, Francesco Laurana… works by Pietro Novelli, Antoon Van Dyck, Vito D’Anna and others, are exhibited in the new wing.

L'Annunciata di Antonello da Messina - Ph. A. Gaetani EspritdeParis

L’Annunciata of Antonello da Messina – Ph. A. Gaetani EspritdeParis

Palazzo Mirto  – A noble residence full of history at the Kalsa, in the historical center of Palermo. Palazzo Mirto was for four centuries the residence in  Palermo of the noble Filangeri’s  family and, later, of the Lanza Filangieri Principi di Mirto from which it takes its name. The structure dates back to the thirteenth century but has undergone several changes over the  time. The interiors are furnished with great care with furniture and carpets ranging from the seventeenth to the nineteenth century: Murano chandeliers, Chinese lacquered panels, clocks, tapestries and porcelain. The sumptuous and regal rooms embrace a terrace decorated with a rocaille fountain. The house-museum spreads over three floors: on the ground floor the kitchens and stables; the first floor was dedicated to official celebrations and ceremonies and, finally, the second floor was reserved for the small family circle and close friends.

Palazzo Mirto

Piazza Marina, Villa Garibaldi and Palazzo Steri. Villa Garibaldi, in Piazza Marina and in the historical center of the Kalsa district, is far from the chaos and has many corners of shade useful for the hottest hours. It was built between 1861 and 1864 by architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile and dedicated to the hero Giuseppe Garibaldi to celebrate the birth of the Italian nation. There are many exotic plants, including the majestic Ficus macrophylla subsp. Columnaris or Ficus magnolioide, typical tree from the pluvial forests. With its 10.000 cubic metres of foliar foliar crown, it is the largest tree of Europe. That’s why it is always admired by so many people from all over the world.

Ficus macrophylla of Villa Garibaldi

In the evening, Piazza Marina changes its looks: local to taste typical dishes and local wines, pubs for an aperitif with live music and folk songs, street food of all kinds. On Sunday morning there is the colourful and characteristic antique market, full of objects, vintage clothes, books and much more at reasonable prices.

Right in front of the garden, we visit the majestic Chiaramonte Palace, also called Steri, today venue of the University Rectorate. Originally the Chiaramonte family house, it became later Inquisition venue.  Inside the complex, we find the prisons become famous for the graffiti left by the prisoners, unique witnessess of the suffering suffered. Within walking distance is the splendid Church of Santa Maria della Catena, between the square and the ancient port of La Cala, built in the fifteenth century and a symbol par excellence of the Catalan Gothic tradition.

Church of Santa Maria della Catena – ph. I. La Barbera

For the more romantic, equally exciting is the cab tour, enjoying and appreciating the beauty of the old town.

Palermo - ph. robianni

Quattro Canti  – ph. robianni

 

9 – Palatine Chapel, just to find out how rich it was…

The Palatine Chapel is what worthed to be seen in Palermo. Begun in 1130, the year of the coronation of Roger II as first king of Sicily, it was completed in 13 years and consecrated, as attested by an inscription in the dome, in 1143. In this church, defined by Maupassant as “The most beautiful religious jewel dreamed of by human thought“, is realized, translated into visual terms, the fusion of the multiple characters of which Sicily was formed: the European, the Sicilian, the Byzantine, the Arabic.

The Chapel has the shape of a western basilica with three naves, divided by granite columns with rich golden Corinthian capitals. Always of western mould, even if influenced by the southern taste, the decorated floors and the inlays of the steps, the balustrades and the lower part of the walls and the gigantic ambo (shelf for the homilies), set of gold, malachite and porphyry, and the Easter candlestick, a real marble bestiary, donated by Archbishop Hugh of Palermo on the occasion of the coronation of William, son of Roger II.
The mosaics are the finest products of Byzantine art, unparalleled in any of the churches of Constantinople. There are, among others, the Pantocrator Christ of the dome, the angels surrounding him and the Evangelists absorbed in their studies, the oldest mosaics in the chapel.

Cappella Palatina – ph. Miguel Angel

The Islamic tradition is finally represented by the wooden ceiling to “muqarnas” (stalactites), unpredictable cover for a Christian church. It is in fact the classic ceiling that we would expect to find in the largest and most elegant mosques and not in a church. Intricate decorations adorn the stalactites and, more unique than rare in the history of Islamic art, these decorations include human figures. The Arab artists, in the tolerant atmosphere of the Norman Palermo, were convinced to venture this type of figuration and so, with the help of binoculars, we can distinguish realistic scenes of daily life of dignitaries and handmaidens busy.

10 – Street food and ancient markets

The ranking, written by the American network Virtual Tourist, puts Palermo at 5# place among the best producers of street food in the world.
The street food tour is a must along with tours of the ancient markets of Palermo, la Vucciria and Ballarò and then the Capo and Borgo Vecchio, now animated by the city nightlife that has chosen them as evening venues.

Ballarò market – ph. Marta Mannarano

An easy and quick way (generally a morning or a tour by night) to cross a couple of millennia of history, art, fragrances, flavours and different civilizations.
In the tangle of the alleys you can find everything: among stalls full of colourful merchandise, Palermo people often use to eat cooked foods on the street to pluck with their hands.

Boiled octopus – Ph. Marta Mannarano

Panelle e cazzilli, bread with spleen, Arancine, Sfinciuni, Stigghiole, Boiled Octopus, are just some of the specialties that have made Palermo one of the world capitals of street food.

Panelle e cazzilli- ph Annibale Cerrati

Panelle and Crocché – ph Annibale Cerrati

Between taste and tradition the Sanlorenzo market  is worth a visit apart. It is located inside an old citrus factory of the years  40’s, restored and  combining the original structure with modern design inserts, with a particular eye to the art reuse. Different culinary specialties in nine workshops and a selection of about 2,800 products from 250 Sicilian suppliers.
You can go shopping or eat dishes already cooked according to the recipes of the local tradition. A real covered market that collects some of the most interesting food and wine selected: from the Slow Food, up to all the other products that give rise to the extraordinary biodiversity of Sicily, with its 29 products between PDO and PGI and 41 Presìdi.
You can choose between fish fried fish, and vegetable centrifuges and fresh fruit, from Sfinciuni to donkey mortadella. You even have tea and exotic fruit from Sicily.
In addition, you can attend showcooking, tastings, cooking lessons with chefs and oenologists, concerts and shows for all ages.

Sfincionello - ph. M. Mannarano

Sfinciuni – ph Marta Mannarano

 

Near Palermo

Villa Palagonia - Sala degli speccchi - ph Amarisla

Villa Palagonia – Sala degli speccchi – ph Amarisla

Palermo on TripAdvisor