Pellegrino, Piazzas, and Chiseas, oh my!

Palermo Travel Blog

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View from our room window to the Saturday morning street market

The alarm went off at 8:00 am and I reset the alarm for 8:30am. Now we had to get up. While I was in the shower, Rob took a few shots of the flea market that had opened for a Sunday morning of business.

 

Upon getting showered we packed our bag for the day’s exploration.  Knowing Palermo’s reputation, we purchased the extra insurance on the car. For 20 euro extra someone could vandalize the car, break in, or even steel the car, and we had no responsibility. We briefly spoke of the upside to the car being stolen, no returning it to the airport….but it was there.

 

We set the Tom Tom and headed north and along the coast.

On the way to the airport to return the car
The mountain range along the Northwestern Coast was a wonderful landscape of steep, large mountains, which are a bit in your face. They were very close together with no real valley area. You could see the separation of the different layers of rock as in layers of lasagna. It was also quite interesting that the mountains to the east of Palermo are green and lush and to the west they are gray and brown and dry.

 

Upon reaching the outskirts of the airport area, we realized that there was no gas station anywhere near. So, we had Tom Tom find us a gas station. The closest one was 8 kilometers away! Tank full, we returned the car without incident.

 

We, now, had to get back to Palermo. We went into the airport and were able to connect with the train that runs on this side of the island.

Isola delle Feminine from the train
We were fortunate that it was just a few minutes from leaving. We bought our tickets (5.50) and boarded. Now, we were on our way. That responsibility out of our hands, felt good. The train journey to Palermo takes you along the coast, also. Now, I had the ability to see a bit more as the train tracks and train ride higher than the highway and car did. We passed a lay little town called Isola delle Feminine. It has gently curving coastline with a little island just offshore with an ancient tower upon it. We made several more stops and then reached ours, the Orleans stop at Pizza dell’Indipendenza.

 

Our first stop on today’s journey was San Giovanni degli Eremiti. It is one of the most important monuments in Palermo due to its Arab architecture. It is surrounded by luxurious tropical gardens. It was built in 1132 by Arab Norman craftsmen and labourers. It also has a bell tower that you can climb to find the best view of the city.

Domes of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
It offers view to the mountains, behind, and all the way to the sea. They should have been open to visitors until 12:30 pm but, by noon they were already closed and there was a service in progress in the Baroque Cathedral that is attached to it. So, we had to leave disappointed. I hope that holds out for a visit, tomorrow. I had climbed the tower last time and really enjoyed the experience.

 

Now, we headed up Via del Bastione to the Piazza del Vittoria, a large square dominated by tall healthy palm trees. There is a monument to Phillip V built out of carrara marble, built in 1662, which stands in front of the Palazzo dei Normanni. It’s a shame that the monument has to he gated and that weeds are going within. A few shots were taken of this impressive building and it’s Porta Nuova, built in 1583 with a roof of majorica tiles and an eagle design . We will return, tomorrow for the tour.

 

We then cross the piazza to the Area Archeologies “Piazza della Vittoria”.

View of the monument to Philip V in the Plazza della Vitoria
The park that surrounds is in terrible need of a gardener and general care and maintenance. There are some Roman ruins that are really not worth the visit. The only thing of note is a bit of mosaic flooring with some animals and floral garland. On the way out we noticed trees with strange looking pod like orbs that we decided were lemons long before turning yellow.

 

We began walking down Corso Vittorio Emanuele. We stopped in a souvenir shop that was showcasing some handmade/hand painted crosses that caught Rob’s attention. I ended up with a stone egg and heart both hand painted with an ocean scene. We also bought a few postcards for friends and family.

 

Across the street, is the main church, the Palermo Cathedral which is dedicated to “Our lady of the Assumption”. It was originally built in 1179 / 85. Due to the frequent rebuilding by the numerous conquerors of Sicily, little of the original structure remains.

Side arch and Cathedral
The façade’s design features include a Catalan Gothic portico, the main dome in Baroque style, Arab inscriptions, towers with Gothic double lancet windows, and a row of small cupolas with majorica tiles. We examined the details of these many features from every angle that we could find. It is a masterpiece with surprises around every corner.  Working our way around the building we passed the scene of the assault during my previous visit. The north-east end of the Cathedral has beautiful inlaid stonework.  I was fascinated by it’s black detailing on the stone.

 

On the corner was a small vehicle pained in the traditional style of Sicilian carts.  Rob noticed that it was advertising an artist’s shop.  We checked out.  They had whimsical paintings, puppets, carts, figurines, carts, a scooter, and many other items.

Catherdral cupolas with majorica tiles
 

 

After the shop we both agreed we needed food.  Rob checked the books and found a place listed that was cheap, well established and recommended by the book.  Making it even better it the fact that it was even next to a church I wanted to photograph.  We were on way further down the Corso Vittorio Emanuele.  On the way we stopped into a ceramic shop with the most wonderful pieces.  I had been here on the previous trip and purchased a beautiful vase. Rob found something for his mother, but wanted to wait to buy it. We made our way to the restaurant, Antica Focacceria di San Francesco.  It was established in 1834 and is considered a Palermitan institution.    Rob tried their specialty, panino (bread filled with Ricotta cheese and milza, veal innards).

MOdern interpritation of the old painted carts
  He enjoyed it.  We also tried a canoli.  It was good, bit still does not live up to the ones I grew up eating. 

 

Once we were feed and feeling better we headed back out into the warm, sunny streets.  San Francesco Church is directly across from the restaurant.  I noticed a fabulous fresco on a building in the piazza.  Our next stop was the Quattro Canti.  This is the intersection Corso Vittorio Emauele and Via Maqueda.  It dates from 1600 when the city was divided into 4 sections. It has amazing examples of neo-classic design and has fountains on its 4 corner. It is also know as the “four songs of the city” and the center, the theater of the sun as its sees the sun from dawn to dusk.

Street perfromer planing in a cafe just off the Via Vittorio Emanuelle

 

 I got some good shots and then we were off to the Piazza Marina.  It has fascinating magnolia trees that have exposed roots.  We stopped at an ATM near the massive Porta Felice.  It took me a couple of tries to get the machine to work for me, all in Italian.  After I was finished, Rob went up to take out cash and it was rebooting itself.  He was terrified that is was using Windows XP as an operating system.

 

 Once we had our cash we took enjoyed the view of the Porta Felice and then walked through to the Villa Mare on the Gulf of Palermo.

One corner of Quattro Canti
  A dominate feature of the harbor is Mt Pellegrino at 600 meters high (1970 feet) There are many caves there with carvings dating back to the Paleolithic period.  We stopped to collect sea glass from the beach.  There were some huge pieces and the colors were incredible (green, aqua, blue, amber, clear).  With a large amount of the glass to divide between a few people we made our way back up the Corso Vittirio Emauele to the ceramic shop.  Rob made his purchase and we debated about purchasing a gorgeous clock. It was ceramic, red in color, with yellow Baroque swirls in each corner. We ultimately decided not to.

 

 From here found our way to Fontana Pretoria which was once called the Fountain of Shame because of it statues of nude figures.  It was originally designed for a garden of a villa in Florence.

Artistic trash
  It was created by a Tuscan sculptor in 1552 ��" 55.  Statues around the base represent the four rivers Palermo.

 

 On the piazza there is a house being renovated and we were able to see in the windows. The building is in terrible condition but you are able to see that it was a grand home at one time and will be again. The details that we were able to see in the window were spectacular.

 

On one side of the piazza a statue of Mary looks out over the fountain from the top of La Martorana. The detailing that was visible was breath taking.  Across the street from the Fountain stands Chisea di San Giuseppe dei Teatini with a fantastic tiled dome and wooden roofed bell tower. It was built in the 7th century.

Magnolia trees with exposed roots in Giardino Garibaldi park
It’s structure is one of the facades of the “four songs of the city”.

 

From here we moved on to Piazza Bellini to see San Cataldo, built in 1160. For a period in the 19th century, it was used as a post office. It is a typical rectangle with blind arches with simple windows within. These windows have a glass design similar to Orthodox Church windows but, with other geometric elements also. It also has the typical red bulge domes and Arab style merlons. There are columns with Byzantine style capitals The walls are simple stone but the floor is original mosaic. It now belongs to the Order of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.  

 

We went up on the step of Santa Caterina to get picture of San Cataldo and Chisea di Santa Maria dell’ Ammiraglio, the baroque church next to it, which was built in 1143 by George of Antioch for Norman King Roger II.

Tower of Porta Felice
It was originally Of Arab ��" Greek design. It has been destroyed and rebuilt many times but, much of the structure is from the 13th century. It is unusual as it has a Greek cross plan, Un portale assiale (ancora esistente) da sull'atrio e il nartece, come nelle prime chiese cristiane.a portal axle (still existing) from the atrium and the narthex, as in the early Christian churches. Al di là del nartece, l'edificio era sistemato e decorato come una chiesa bizantina a 4 colonne, tranne gli archi a sesto acuto ei pennacchi della cupola che erano di origine islamica .
View of port from Villa a Mare park
Beyond the narthex, the design is Byzantine in a 4 column design, except the pointed arches and spandrels of the dome that were originally Muslim. Upon entering the church, you are blown away by the 17th century frescoes that are integrated in with the fantastic mosaic designs. The mosaic section depicting Roger II and George of Antioc are from the original build.
Of all of the churches in Palermo and even Sicilia, this one has my favorite interior.

 

 After I was satisfied, we headed over to the Via Roma.  Rob navigated us down to Piazza San Domenico where the impressive Baroque San Domenica looms over the square.  The scale of this church is meant to show power and wealth. There was a Gelato place on the piazza so we decided to take a short break.

 

  After our snack, we walked back into the neighborhood to find another church.

Window in building being restored in the Piazza Pretoria
  We were both uncomfortable with the groups of youths hanging out.  We found a church but still not the right one.  After consulting the map were off back down Via Roma.

 

We finally found the church I was obsessed with finding, the Baroque masterpiece, Chiesa di Santa Anna. It was built in 1632 It is on a piazza with the Museum of Modern Art next door to it. The current street party decoration has made quite the mess for taking beautiful pictures.  It was close to 19:00 and service was just finishing.  Rob noticed that a young guy was working the door as people came out.  He was trying to sell them something.  We hung out for a few minutes waiting for people to clear out.

La Martorana and San Cataldo from the steps fo Santa Catarina
  After a reasonable time we went into the church.  Rob was shocked and appalled by the electric pray candles.  You drop money into a slot until one of them comes on.  It saves on candles, but doesn’t have the charm of real candles.  We moved deeper into the dimly lit cavern and were rewarded with amazing frescos.  The entire from of the church was elaborately painted.  A nice man came up and was communicating with Rob some.  He was nice enough to turn on some lights for us.  He was very proud of the church and kept pointing out things we were not to miss. Even with the language barrier, we understood and enjoyed. We thanked him as we were leaving.

 

After the visit we waited outside for a bit to see if they would turn on the festival lighting.

San Domenico Piazza and church
  It didn’t come on so we headed back towards the room.

 

 On the way we got some great night shots of the Cathedral.  It is quite dramatic a night and is lit well. The only strange thing is that the statue of Mary out front has white low energy lights and every other light on the church is halogen making Mary look a bit strange.

 

We snaked out way back through the streets to the neighbor hood where the guest house is.  The street party was just getting started and there were a lot of people. We grabbed some food and headed inside.  The people were just starting to arrive for a concert and they just kept coming. We could hear it from our room with the windows shut and the exterior blind down.

Sign advertising event to stop homophobia
  It was so loud and some of the singers were pretty bad. It sounded like karaoke night in the neighborhood but, I knew it wasn’t.

 

 I worked on blogs and Rob read, wrote, postcards, and helped me some. After I couldn’t take writing any longer Rob took over for awhile. It is now approaching 1:00 A.M. and the concert is still going.  Rob is ready to fall over and since he can sleep though anything I think he might be able to go to sleep.  I needed my earplugs desperately and with them was able to sleep.  Tomorrow, actually today at this point, will be museum day. It has been a great first day in Palermo. I hoped to continue in this manner and enjoy the city.   Hopefully there won’t be a concert tomorrow night.

Chiesa di Santa Anna
 

pbug31 says:
beautiful pictures. thx for sharing
Posted on: Oct 04, 2009
delsol67 says:
You know, I've learned that Sicilia is so very different than Italy.
Posted on: Oct 01, 2009
Africancrab says:
Incredible, very informative indeed, I did not know all that even though I spent time in Italy
Posted on: Sep 30, 2009
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View from our room window to the S…
View from our room window to the …
On the way to the airport to retur…
On the way to the airport to retu…
Isola delle Feminine from the train
Isola delle Feminine from the train
Domes of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Domes of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
View of the monument to Philip V i…
View of the monument to Philip V …
Side arch and Cathedral
Side arch and Cathedral
Catherdral cupolas with majorica t…
Catherdral cupolas with majorica …
MOdern interpritation of the old p…
MOdern interpritation of the old …
Street perfromer planing in a cafe…
Street perfromer planing in a caf…
One corner of Quattro Canti
One corner of Quattro Canti
Artistic trash
Artistic trash
Magnolia trees with exposed roots …
Magnolia trees with exposed roots…
Tower of Porta Felice
Tower of Porta Felice
View of port from Villa a Mare park
View of port from Villa a Mare park
Window in building being restored …
Window in building being restored…
La Martorana and San Cataldo from …
La Martorana and San Cataldo from…
San Domenico Piazza and church
San Domenico Piazza and church
Sign advertising event to stop hom…
Sign advertising event to stop ho…
Chiesa di Santa Anna
Chiesa di Santa Anna
View from our window on Saturday m…
View from our window on Saturday …
Everything for sell on the street
Everything for sell on the street
Rugged mountian landscape on the w…
Rugged mountian landscape on the …
Coastal view on way to airport
Coastal view on way to airport
Typical Italian houses on way to a…
Typical Italian houses on way to …
Isola delle Feminine
Isola delle Feminine
Coastal road and beach
Coastal road and beach
Sicilian coast and Mar Ionio
Sicilian coast and Mar Ionio
Rocky coast on Mar Ionio
Rocky coast on Mar Ionio
Dramatic rocky cliff
Dramatic rocky cliff
Builing in the neighborhood of our…
Builing in the neighborhood of ou…
Tower of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Tower of San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Garden of San Giovanni degli Eremi…
Garden of San Giovanni degli Erem…
Bell tower of San Giovanni degli E…
Bell tower of San Giovanni degli …
Palm tree in garden of San Giovann…
Palm tree in garden of San Giovan…
Looking up to the bell tower of Sa…
Looking up to the bell tower of S…
San Giovanni degli Eremiti
San Giovanni degli Eremiti
Baroque portion of San Giovanni de…
Baroque portion of San Giovanni d…
Arabic inspired domes of San Giova…
Arabic inspired domes of San Giov…
Decorative and functional element …
Decorative and functional element…
View of the monument to Philip V i…
View of the monument to Philip V …
Monument to Philip V
Monument to Philip V
Details on base of monument to Phi…
Details on base of monument to Ph…
View of San Giovanni degli Eremiti…
View of San Giovanni degli Eremit…
Coatr of arms on building in Piazz…
Coatr of arms on building in Piaz…
Tiled roof of Porta Nuova
Tiled roof of Porta Nuova
Fountain in the Piazza della Vitto…
Fountain in the Piazza della Vitt…
Entrace to Roman ruins in the Piaz…
Entrace to Roman ruins in the Pia…
Floral boarder in tiled floor of R…
Floral boarder in tiled floor of …
Boar and line in the Roman ruins
Boar and line in the Roman ruins
Mosaic floor in Roman ruins
Mosaic floor in Roman ruins
Lemon tree in park of Roman ruins
Lemon tree in park of Roman ruins
Young lemon or limes
Young lemon or limes
Street in Palermo
Street in Palermo
Front entrance to Cathedral
Front entrance to Cathedral
Side arch of Cathedral
Side arch of Cathedral
Me in the Piazza Duomo
Me in the Piazza Duomo
Rob in the Piazza Duomo
Rob in the Piazza Duomo
Dramatic detailing of Cathedral ro…
Dramatic detailing of Cathedral r…
View of Piazza Duomo looking to th…
View of Piazza Duomo looking to t…
Entrance to Cathedral
Entrance to Cathedral
Column of Cathedral entrance
Column of Cathedral entrance
Monument in entrance of Cathedral
Monument in entrance of Cathedral
Top of monument at cathedral with …
Top of monument at cathedral with…
Mosaic work on cathedral
Mosaic work on cathedral
Carved detail around door of cathe…
Carved detail around door of cath…
Spiraling bands of door entrance
Spiraling bands of door entrance
Intricate carving on column
Intricate carving on column
Monumnet in enterance of Cathedral
Monumnet in enterance of Cathedral
Looking out onto Piazza Duomo from…
Looking out onto Piazza Duomo fro…
Coat of arms at Cathedral
Coat of arms at Cathedral
Catherdral cupolas with majorica t…
Catherdral cupolas with majorica …
Arch way on the side of cathedral
Arch way on the side of cathedral
Statue of
Statue of
Detail of side wall of cathedral
Detail of side wall of cathedral
Side door to cathedral
Side door to cathedral
Side of cathedral
Side of cathedral
Framed painting
Framed painting
Frame detail
Frame detail
detail of top of frame
detail of top of frame
Door knocker
Door knocker
Icon on exterior of cathedral in t…
Icon on exterior of cathedral in …
Detail of icon on cathedral
Detail of icon on cathedral
Tower on side of Cathedral
Tower on side of Cathedral
Intricate carved details on side o…
Intricate carved details on side …
Side of Cathedral from Piazza Sett…
Side of Cathedral from Piazza Set…
Church behind Cathedral in Piazza …
Church behind Cathedral in Piazza…
The streets of Palermo
The streets of Palermo
Art shop and cool roofs in Piazza …
Art shop and cool roofs in Piazza…
Blue details on side of cathedral …
Blue details on side of cathedral…
Double eagle on side of cathedral …
Double eagle on side of cathedral…
Carved detail on church in Piazza …
Carved detail on church in Piazza…
Blue and carved panel on side of c…
Blue and carved panel on side of …
Modern interpretation of tradition…
Modern interpretation of traditio…
Painted door of vehicle
Painted door of vehicle
Painted panel on bed of cart
Painted panel on bed of cart
Painting of knight in battle
Painting of knight in battle
Item in art studio
Item in art studio
Traditional painted cart
Traditional painted cart
Cupolas of Carthedral
Cupolas of Carthedral
Clock tower and main dome of cathe…
Clock tower and main dome of cath…
Clock tower of cathedral
Clock tower of cathedral
Towers of cathedral
Towers of cathedral
Piazza off the Via Emanuelle Vitto…
Piazza off the Via Emanuelle Vitt…
Carved base of statue
Carved base of statue
Cool old door
Cool old door
Detail of door
Detail of door
Wonder art objects in a shop window
Wonder art objects in a shop window
Rob in Quattro Canti
Rob in Quattro Canti
Quattro Canti
Quattro Canti
Looking down Via Maqueda from Quat…
Looking down Via Maqueda from Qua…
Different angle of Quattro Canti
Different angle of Quattro Canti
Quattro Canti
Quattro Canti
San Francesco d Assisi
San Francesco d' Assisi
Antica Focacceria di San Francesco…
Antica Focacceria di San Francesc…
Mural in Piazza San Francesco d A…
Mural in Piazza San Francesco d' …
Cool roof tops
Cool roof tops
Fountain in Glardino Garibaldi
Fountain in Glardino Garibaldi
Building in Glardino Garibaldi
Building in Glardino Garibaldi
Building across from Glardino Gari…
Building across from Glardino Gar…
Church across from Glardino Gariba…
Church across from Glardino Garib…
Coat of arms on building across fr…
Coat of arms on building across f…
Doors in building across from Glar…
Doors in building across from Gla…
Sign for resturant across from Gla…
Sign for resturant across from Gl…
Al Covo de Beati Paoli at Glardino…
Al Covo de Beati Paoli at Glardin…
Desert
Desert
Car like what we drove from Catania
Car like what we drove from Catania
Palermo Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
A Palermo institution
This is a local's spot! If you want recipies that have been loved by the peole of Palermo for generations, you must come here. The food is served c… read entire review
Palermo
photo by: Jeroenadmiraal