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Notes on Palermo

Posted by Suzanne Turrisi on 30 Sep 2019



UNESCO listed, Arab Norman glory and mad traffic

Beautiful worn Baroque palaces, Arab Norman facades in perfect harmony, piazzas bordered with fantastic faded palazzi (like film sets really) and restaurants

a transfixing UNESCO world heritage listed cathedral (along with numerous other buildings in Palermo, Monreale and Cefalu), long paved thoroughfares closed to Palermo’s chaotically ordered, death-defying traffic

Baroque palazzo, Piazza Bologni, off Via Vittorio Emanuele


Baroque beauty faded  in Piazza Bologni


Detail 18th century Palazzo Gangi on Piazza Croce dei Vespri, thinking about Luchino Visconti's 1963  film of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's novel, The Leopard. 


Palazzo Alliata Villa Franca sheer faded Baroque grandeur in Piazza Bologni with an art gallery inside (I am yet to see this)


Facade of Palazzo Alliata Villa Franca 


Arab Norman glory, apses at the back of the cathedral. The cathedral is  a "Siclian hybrid' (Insight Guides Sicily) where mesmerising  Byzantine, Moorish, Arab Norman and Baroque details abound. It dates from around 1185.


Cathedral details, perfect blind arcading. The Archbishop's palace is to the left.


Baroque Palermo, cafes, opera and side streets

Dramatic intersections adorned in unabashed Sicilian baroque, cafes lining the streets with a longed for nod to Palermo’s past Leopardesque/Lampedusan café culture, animated souk- like markets along narrow side streets, some imposing late 19th century buildings,

art galleries housed in rejuvenated old palazzi, a remarkable opera house, small artisanal shops, really good food and a feel of Africa which adds mystery to this exotic city.

Quattro Canti 


Bisso Bistrot  at Quattro Canti corner Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda. The former home of the bookshop 'Libreria Dante'


Opera house Teatro Massimo dominates Piazza Verdi effortlessly 


Heading to La Vuccira market once Palermo's most revered and historic market. Think of Renato Guttuso's famous 1974 painting.


Handsome and imposing Palermo. Most likely late 19th century,  corner of  Via Ruggero Settimo and Via Mariano Stabile


To spend weeks in Palermo

Palermo’s a wonderful city where lots of time could be spent. When I am staying up in the Madonie Mountains at the house in Polizzi (about an hour or so from Palermo down the A19 autostrada) I love to go and stay in Palermo. I long for the time when I can spend days and days in the city. I wouldn’t ever tire of it!

The few snapshots in this blog were taken this spring when I spent three nights in Palermo, in an old palazzo tucked down a side street near the cathedral, at B&B Le Terrazze (the terraces). What a noble, small B&B which is a part of a gracious home with a gentle and relaxed host and a generously set, shared breakfast table which opens to a small garden terrace (one of five!)

The cathedral in full 'Sicilian hybrid' glory from the top terrace of B&B Le Terrazze


Cathedral detail viewed from the top terrace of  B&B Le Terrazze. The opera house and its dome can be seen to the right.


Views from a tiny terrace

And from the many small terraces of Le Terrazze the big views to the cathedral and over the majolica domes and terracotta roof tops of this port city are mesmerizing. (In fact, from memory, I first saw this small 3 room B&B mentioned on an Instagram feed (months ago now) and the name of the page I cannot find. But whoever you are, thank you!).

Le Terrazze is only steps from the UNESCO heritage listed cathedral.





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