The street of Liberty
Richard Wagner called it " the Champs-Elysées of Sicily", still it once was only the road taking the Palermo aristocracy to their countryside villas.
Via Libertà as we know it today was born at the end of the XIX century, when on the whole area between it and via Dante, also known as Firriato di Villafranca, the monumental complex that would host the 1891-92 National Exhibition.
The structure was pulled down at the end of the exhibition, and the Palermo middle-class, who wished to prove itself as dignified as the aristocracy, started to buy plots of land along this street, entrusting the building of their houses to the most famous architects of the period, who used an unconventional style, mixing eclecticism and shapes taken from nature: Art Nouveau, known in Italy as Liberty style.
It is precisely in this street that some of the best examples making Palermo a small capital city of Art Nouveau can be found, hidden between modern buildings and luxury boutiques: Palazzo Dato, by Vincenzo Alagna, Villino Ida, designed by Ernesto Basile for himself and his family, the Ribaudo kiosk and the Kursaal Biondo in piazza Castelnuovo.
Sided by lush green parks like the English Garden and the Parterre Garibaldi, now Villa Falcone-Morvillo, characterized by its three lanes and the long lines of sycamore trees in the part that goes from Piazza Croci to Piazza Castelnuovo, via Libertà is Palermo's poshest area, with its fashionable shops, its delicious ice-cream parlours and its wide sidewakls.
At Christmas it dresses up with light, making one of Palermo's most fascinating sights.