Palermo, The "city of delights"

 

The Sicilian Capital, considered to be one of the most beautiful Italian cities for the wealth of monuments, Baroque churches, arabesque domes, neoclassical theaters, eighteenth-century palaces and typical historical markets, a must-see stop for visitors is Teatro Massimo, the largest theater in Italy and one of the largest opera houses in Europe. However, not everyone knows, that this jewel of culture is wrapped in an aura of mystery and dark presence.

Built for the will of the then Mayor the Marquis of Rudinì, its construction involved the demolition of four churches and two monasteries. The legend tells that during these demolitions, the grave of a deceased nun had been inadvertently desecrated, disturbed in her eternal rest, she would hinder the men’s work manifesting her admonishing presence. Many swear to have seen the Nun’s ghost, also known as “la monachella”, restlessly prowling the stage, in the backstage and basement of the theater, instilling terror to those whom recklessly dared to challenge her wrath.  Do you find it hard to believe that all this is true? Be careful then, because it’s also said that those whom don’t believe the legend, may trip over, while entering into the theatre, on a particular step, so called “step of the Nun"!

If you find yourself or you are planning your holidays in the "city of delights”, and you are seeking for the most beautiful places to see, for a good local restaurant or even a farmhouse where to stay, here are for you the Italian Traditions tips.

10 THINGS TO DO IN PALERMO

1. RE-LIVE PALERMO AS IT USED TO BE BY TAKING A TOUR IN THE DISTRICT MARKETS OF THE CITY, such as the markets of Ballarò and Vucciria, where the colors and scents of Palermo and Sicily meet on the colorful stalls of street vendors.

2. VISIT THE CATACOMBS, the underground cemetery of the Convent of the Capuchins located in the Cuba Quarter, in which are preserved approximately eight thousand remains of monks, famous people, Palermo nobles and ordinary people.

3. ADMIRE THE MONUMENTAL AND SPECTACULAR PRETORIA FOUNTAIN located in its homonymous square, a blaze of divinities, nymphs, monsters, animal heads, allegories, staircases, balustrades and small fountains.

4. DISCOVER ONE OF THE BIGGEST COLLECTIONS OF ANCIENT SICILIAN MAJOLICA at the house museum “Stanze al Genio”, housed in the eighteenth-century rooms of the main floor of Palazzo Torre Piraino.

5. RELAX BY STROLLING IN TEN HECTARES OF THE BOTANICAL GARDEN of the University of Palermo, amongst the numerous varieties of plants of Mediterranean origin, tropical and subtropical.

6. SPEND AN AFTERNOON IN THE ROOMS OF THE CHINESE BUILDING, former royal residence of the Bourbon of Naples built in Chinese style. Today the Real Casina houses a collection of prints, furniture and oriental silks.

7. DELIGHT YOURSELF WITH THE BEST OF SICILIAN STREET FOOD going in the historical friggitoria Nni Franco u’ Vastiddaru (via Vittorio Emanuele, 102). From mixed fried fish to frittes, from potato croquettes to the proverbial “pane ca’ meusa” (bread with the spleen), a true must in this area.

8. ENJOY THE SPECIALTIES OF THE TRADITIONAL SICILIAN CUISINE amongst the pictures, red walls and wooden ceilings of the restaurant Ferro di Cavallo (via Venezia, 20). Try the caponata, spaghetti with squid ink and Palermo’s sardine meatballs.

9. DISCOVER THE RECORD OF GOODNESS WITH CANNOLI, CASSATE AND ALMOND PASTRIES of the Pasticceria Oscar (via Mariano Migliaccio, 39), in business since 1969 and considered amongst the best in the city.

10. SOJOURN IN NATURE PRISTINE at Relais Abbasia Santa Anastasia (Contrada Santa Anastasia - Castelbuono), an elegant structure created by the remains of a medieval abbey of Benedictine monks that overlooks the enchanting scenery of the Madonie.