Relish traditional Sicilian fare by participating in a walking tour organized by Streat Palermo Tour. Not only do you walk through historic squares and pass by major tourist attractions but visitors also get the chance to stop at several bakeries and food stands to try some of the local cuisine. Besides the great food, participants also get the chance to learn about the city’s culinary heritage and how the local cuisine is influenced by Jews and Arabs. Participants also get the chance to learn more about the city’s art culture and history. If you are a foodie at heart, participate in one of the tours and tantalize your senses in the streets of the gorgeous city of Palermo.
Built around the end of the 12th Century during the Norman reign of Guglielmo II, the Cattedrale (Cathedral) is definitely one of the most important religious buildings from a historical and artistic perspective. Throughout the centuries, it underwent various additions and restorations. One of the most outstanding change is that of the Florentine architect Fuga, from the end of the 17th century, which gave the building its definite neoclassic style. Remarkable details of the exterior to admire include the 13th-century bronze door, enriched with the four symbols of the evangelists, (a lion, an angel, a bull and an eagle), the magnificent dome and the apses, a vestige of the original church. Inside, among the various and splendid chapels, it should be mentioned that some house the tombs of Norman and Suebi royalty (Ruggero II, Federico II, Costanza d'Altavilla) as well as the silver urn that contains the ashes of Saint Rosalia, the patron saint of the city.
Better known as Palermo's famous Four Cantons, Piazza Vigliena is located at the intersection of Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele and separates the four zones of the 17th-century city. This square is the fruit of the clever urban renovations that attempted to hide the poverty of the population behind the imposing facades of the buildings along the city's two main arteries. Throughout the 17th century, besides being the center of city life, it was the preferred place for locals to stroll about. In the last few years, thanks to the refurbishments mandated by a new regulatory plan, the square has been revitalized after a long period of decay and neglect. Each canton has three architectural levels, corresponding to the three orders of Doric, Ionic and Composite, and at the bottom of each are the allegories of the seasons: Autumn to the north, Winter to the east, Spring to the south and Summer to the west. In the middle are the statues of four different Spanish monarchs, respectively, Filippo IV, Filippo III, Carlo V e Filippo II and above are the four patron saints of their respective neighborhoods: St. Oliva (Loggia), St. Agata (Kalsa), St. Cristina (Albergheria) and St. Nymph (Capo).
An imposing structure in the heart of old Palermo, this Norman Palace of great historical and artistic importance has, over the centuries, undergone numerous transformations and is currently the Sicilian local government headquarters. A royal residence in Norman times, defended by four towers and richly decorated with Arab designs, it also had its own circle of artists, scientists and literary figures during the reign of Frederick II. The Ruggero, Duca di Montalto, Ercole, Pompeiana rooms and the Torre dei Venti courtyard are however open to the public. By appointment only Tuesdays to Thursdays & Sundays.
Museo Archeologico Regionale is housed within a convent belonging to the Cappucin friars. Most of the collection relates to the period of Greek dominance. Among the more interesting exhibits are the famous metope from the temples in Selinunte, a collection of Greek vases and several mosaics from patrician Roman villas. There is also a rather interesting collection of Italian ceramics from the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. The permanent collection was enlarged a few years ago to include a section dedicated to the punic tombs found all over Sicily.
Constructed towards the end of the 18th Century by Italian architect- Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia, the beautiful Sicilian-Baroque structure of Palazzo Riso is the home contemporary art was waiting for. Its beautiful ochre front stands right in front of the theatrical scenery of Bologni Square and Carlo V statue. It hosts a permanent collection of famous international artists such as Christian Boltanski and Richard Long, the Italian Emilio Isgrò and Pietro Consagra, but is also a home for nascent Sicilian talents like Laboratorio Saccardi and for remarkable temporary art exhibitions. The museum is also supplied with a book shop and an elegant coffee bar.
This dance school is well known for its rigorous training and quality, thanks to the director, Eliana Lo Bue. Classical, modern and comtemporary dance are taught. If you want to lose yourself in sensual rhythms and intoxicate your senses you can opt for flamenco, or if you prefer the good old music, you can try ballroom dancing, which is ever more modern and exciting. The Latin-American classes are especially interesting; you can dance with a partner or with a group of friends. The jazz and funk course is also worth a try.
In a city that is always full of cars and motorbikes, going against the flow and buying a pushbike is the ideal solution to start living again. For this reason Cannatella offers a wide range of pushbikes to meet the needs of adults and children alike. Here you will find American style mountain bikes, racing bikes, street bikes in all sizes and triathlon and duathlon bikes. There are also spare parts, accessories, specialised clothing and exercise bikes. Clients can even pay by Findomestic. Bikes can be delivered to the door within 24 hours.
First constructed in 1339 as an oratory, it was then transformed into Casa della Disciplina, (House of Discipline), a hospital. The newer, current building was decided upon by the Brotherhood of Saint Mary in 1520. The construction, delayed for various decades, testifies to the 15th-century architectural evolution in Palermo. The architecture still adheres to the Catalan-Gothic style, the naves are of the Gaginesca school, and the octagonal rostrum is of the Renaissance style. Although many artworks were stolen over the years, the interior still contains many wonderful canvas oil paintings and panels of paintings in tempera.
Ridotto dello Spasimo has staged some of the most entertaining acts the city of Palermo has ever witnessed. Martha Collica, who is a singer, guitarist and pianist, was one of the acts at the 'Jazz at the Foyer of Suffering' concert that also featured Tazio Lacobacci on percussion and guitar. The venue has also featured international acts such as an Earth, Wind & Fire concert that featured Al McKay All. Call ahead for reservation and other details.
This little church, next to the police headquarters, on the east side of Vittoria square, is one of the hidden treasures of Palermo. St. Mary of Soledad was originally the chapel of the 16th-century Church of St. Demetrio, destroyed by the World War II bombings. Having suffered only partial damage, the chapel was reopened after a restoration in 1957. Its construction was started in 1590 during the Spanish Vice-regency of Count Alba de Liste. It was modified in 1610, and again in 1679 by the architect Giuseppe Marvuglia. The outside building is quite bare, apart from the elegant multicolored marble portal. On the contrary, the interiors are a fanciful collection of fine marble inlays, added in the 18th Century, the latest of them designed by Giuseppe Marvuglia. The opulent decoration also features busts, inscriptions and valuable paintings. On the main altar stands an ancient image of Holy Mary of Soledad, which inspires devotion even today. The chapel is Spanish territory and can by visited only by appointment.
The Fondazione is part of the Banco di Sicilia, and was established to contribute to the cultural life of the city and to preserve its cultural treasures. The Fondazione regularly organizes concerts, art exhibitions and many other kinds of activities. Check the website for a list of upcoming events.