Historic city center
A neverending story
From Kalsa to Alberghieria, from Loggia to Monte di Pietà, you could walk a millon times back and forth the two main roads of the historic city centre, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele, without ever stopping being surprised.
The historic city centre of Palermo is a vast ocean of beauty, contraddictions and legends, mixing with the everyday life of the city, made of multiculturalism, experimentation, sustainable living experiences.
Start your journey with the Capo street market, walking though Porta Carini and along a universe of colourful, scented stalls, where the typical Sicilian earth products mix with oriental spices and exotic fruit. Among the abbanniate (shouts) of sellers and doorways opening up on lively courtyards, be sure not to miss jewels like the Liberty mosaic of the Morello bakery, the church of Sant'Agostino and the Church of the Immacolata Concezione, while you are on a walk on the footsteps of the sect of the Beati Paoli.
While you continue explring the small streets of Palermo, you will suddenly discover you are right behind one of the most fascinating monuments of Palermo, the Cathedral, with its grand Arab-Norman exterior and its rigorously neoclassical interiors. Further on, there is the Royal Palace (Palace of the Normans), a giant that has its most secret heart in the preciuos Byzantine mosaics of the Palatine Chapel.
If you leave Corso Vittorio Emanuele behind you, you can jump into the thousand contradictions of Ballarò, the legendary street market of Palermo. From the Rastafarian hairdressers of the African community to the shop where the Terranova family sells the best handmade confectionery of the city, from the overwhelming Baroque decorations of the Church of Casa Professa to Piazza Mediterraneo, the square that wasn't there which was created thanks to the effort of the Santa Rosalia guerrila gardener, you reay have to get lost to find a meaning .
A meaning for Palermo, that maybe you can find in its museums: the Modern Art Gallery, located in the former Convent of Sant'Anna, where sometimes the great masters of XIX painting like Lo Jacono meet young contemporary artists destroying the rules of art like Adalberto Abbate; Palazzo Steri, whose walls hide the Vucciria by Renato Guttuso, and the prisons of the Holy Inquisition in Palermo; Palazzo Abatellis, where the famous Triumph of Death lives a life of its own in Carlo Scarpa's fit-out; Palazzo Branciforte, whose collection of antiques rests in Gae Aulenti's last masterpiece.
Or maybe the real meaning of Palermo is in the air, and you must look for it in ts open spaces: maybe the wind tossed it away, along the Foro Italico, the seaside walk of palermitans, or between the masts of the sailboats rocking back and forth in the Cala harbour; maybe it got stuck in the branches of the oldest trees in the city, in piazza Marina, and it is hiding there while you wander among the vintage stalls of the Sunday morning market; or maybe it is there with you, while you stand on the stone flooring of the old city and stare in awe at the face of the Genius of Palermo, one of the many, as many are the souls of the city.