Archive for the ‘palermondays’ Category

Duomo in Palermo, Sicily

Welcome back to Palermonday!

A few weeks ago, we started at Teatro Massimo, and then we started a walking tour up Corso Vittorio Emanuele. Now, after passing through the Porta Nuova and seeing Quattro Canti and La Fontana della Vergogna/The Fountain of Shame, we have arrived at the Duomo.

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Absolutely one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen.

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Part of what makes the Duomo so unique is its many architectural influences that reflect Sicily’s history as a territory that has seen a truly impressive number of leaders–check out this busy flag of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (thanks Paulus Maximus!).

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

The Duomo was built by Normans in 1184 on the site of a Muslim mosque that had been built over an early Christian basilica.

Got that?

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

During the 13th and 14th centuries, Gothic additions were added to the exterior and then the Spaniards added a Catalan touch in the 15th century.

Neoclassical elements were introduced both inside and out during the late 18th and early 19th century by architect Fernando Fuga of Naples.

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

You can read much more about the architectural details and see great photos of the Duomo, especially of the interior, here.

And just for fun, check out this liceo (equivalent of a US high school) that overlooks the Duomo.

Duomo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Somehow I don’t think concentration would come easily for me with the gorgeous Duomo outside.

Be sure to come back next week for the last Palermomonday
gardens and fruits and veggies, oh my!

Happy Memorial Day to those in the US! Hope you have your poppy!

La Porta Nuova in Palermo, Sicily

It’s Palermonday again!

Porta Nuova, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

After visiting Teatro Massimo, La Fontana della Vergogna, and Quattro Canti, we’re now continuing along on Corso Vittorio Emanuele through la Porta Nuova (left) in Palermo.

This is one of my favorite photos of Palermo. I love how it captures the history, the hustle and bustle of the city, and even a Smart car–essential for any European street scene.

Plus I’m pretty proud of myself for not caring that I looked like a total tourist while stopping on that tiny sidewalk (believe me, the photo makes it look *gigantic* compared to the reality), burning my eyes looking into the strong midday sun, and snapping away.

I used to have issues with that, but I’m apparently past them.

The original Porta Nuova was built in 1583 to commemorate the victory of Charles V (known as Carlo V in Italy) over the Turks, but was destroyed in an explosion in 1667. Two years later, architect Gaspare Guercio redid the entrance to the city, adding a majolica-tiled pyramid with an eagle on the top (as always, click on photos to enlarge):

Porta Nuova, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

For centuries, Porta Nuova was the most important entry way into the city of Palermo, but Cherrye and I had a few moments of doubt as to whether we could actually pass through it on foot and continue along Corso Vittorio Emanuele without taking a detour.

We are living proof that you can indeed walk through the Porta Nuova.

Sure, it’s against traffic, but don’t worry, it opens up a bit inside to about the same width as the sidewalk outside. In fact, I felt safe enough to stop and take a photo of the inside of Porta Nuova, something you’re not going to find just anywhere:

Inside Porta Nuova, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Adjacent to the Porta Nuova is the Palazzo dei Normanni, the seat of the Regional Parliament in Sicily and also home of the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel of the Norman kings of Sicily and one of the most beautiful and impressive sites in all of Palermo.

Or so we’ve been told.

It was closed the day we were there, which means we have yet another reason to return to this beautiful city.

On to the Duomo next Palermonday!

Quattro Canti in Palermo, Sicily

It’s Palermonday again!

Two weeks ago, we visited Italy’s largest opera house, Teatro Massimo, and last week we were at La Fontana della Vergogna, or the Fountain of Shame.

Well, just around the corner from gorgeous Piazza Pretoria is Quattro Canti, or the Four Corners, marking the intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda–the old heart of Palermo:

Quattro Canti, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

The four buildings of Quattro Canti each have three levels of Giulio Lasso-designed Baroque sculptures.

Quattro Canti, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

The themes are the Four Seasons, Spanish kings, and patron saints of Palermo’s original four quarters.

Quattro Canti, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Quattro Canti, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

There are also gorgeous Baroque fountains at ground level.

Quattro Canti, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

It is said that the sculptures used to be pearly white, but city smog and pollution have given them a grey, um, patina. Still gorgeous though, aren’t they?

Make sure you come back next week for the next installment of Palermondays because believe me, everywhere you look in Palermo, there seems to be yet another amazing, sculpted masterpiece.

Grrr…Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

They just don’t make buildings like this anymore, do they?

La Fontana della Vergogna – Fountain of Shame – in Palermo, Sicily

It’s Palermonday again! If you missed the first installment, please check out last Monday’s visit to Teatro Massimo as well.

Cherrye and I only had one full day to explore Palermo. We wanted to really get a feel for the city, so we decided to just walk around and see what we stumbled upon (with the help of some guidebook info of course).

As it turns out, Palermo is *fabulous* for walking because many of the major sites run along Corso Vittorio Emanuele, historically been the city’s most important street, and that’s the route I’m going to take you on.

We started at our hotel in the Piazza Marina area and headed away from the water and up the main street.

The gorgeous Piazza Pretoria was our first major find:

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

And we weren’t the only ones there.

One sweet girl from this troop actually came up to me and asked me where to find something–apparently there was a scavenger hunt going on.

Scavenger Hunt! on Flickr

But the only thing I really knew how to find was what was in the middle of Piazza Pretoria: La Fontana della Vergogna, or the Fountain of Shame, a work by Florentine sculptor Francesco Camilliani and Michelangelo Naccherino completed in 1555.

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

Why is it called the Fountain of Shame you ask?

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

Well look at all that nekkidness!

You see, the fountain was originally intended for the private villa of the Viceroy Don Pedro de Toledo in Tuscany, where perhaps the 16 (nude) representations of gods and goddesses would’ve been more appropriate.

Let’s just say it didn’t go over so well in the middle of Palermo.

Piazza Pretoria is absolutely surrounded by churches, and as it turns out, the faithful weren’t too excited to come out of Mass and see such debauchery.

But to my 21st century eyes, the fountain and everything around it is simply amazing.

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

I even love the inscription telling us the name of the iron foundry responsible for protecting the fountain.

Grazie Fonderia Gaetano Basile!

Fontana della Vergogna, Palermo on Flickr

And here is some detail of the church across Via Maqueda (in the background of the first photo), Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Teatini, designed by Giacomo Besio in 1612 with the dome added in the 18th century:

Chiesa di San Guiseppe dei Teatini, Palermo on Flickr

You might get the idea that Cherrye and I spent quite a bit of time in this square. We did.

It’s breathtakingly beautiful.

And since photos of the fountain at night are so lovely, I can only hope to get back to Palermo someday and see it all lit up in person.

Who’s coming with?

Teatro Massimo in Palermo, Sicily

I loved Palermo so much I can’t possibly sum it all up in one, two, or even three posts. So for the next several Mondays, I’m going to share travel tales from Palermo . . .

Palermondays are here!

Now you may remember that before Cherrye and I set off for our trip to Sicily, I mentioned wanting to visit the Teatro Massimo in Palermo. Well we did!

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

This magnificent opera house opened in 1897 in part to provide national unity for the newly formed country of Italy; remember the Risorgimento and unification of Italy only occurred in the 19th century.

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

As the largest opera house in Italy and the third largest in all of Europe, Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele seats 1,350 and features 7 tiers of boxes around an inclined stage, all in the shape of a horseshoe.

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

The opera house was built by the architect Giovanni Battista Filippo Basile, paying homage to classic Sicilian architecture; the exterior is reminiscent of the ancient Greek temples of Selinunte and Agrigento.

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Take a virtual tour of Teatro Massimo here.

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Sicily on Flickr

Don’t forget to come back next week for another Palermonday!

Michelle FabioMichelle Fabio is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer living in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy and savoring simplicity one sip at a time. 

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