A life lived among puppets. The art of puppeteer and storyteller Mimmo Cuticchio is recognized as a cultural treasure. There’s something fitting about tracing the story of this icon when Palermo has been named Italian Capital of Culture 2018.
On Saint Lucia’s day, which would like the fast of the devotees, the heretic is one who does not eat the famous arancina. Or rather those who do not make a real feast of rice balls. This day you can smell fried in the air. You can hear it coming out of the takeaways, but also from the houses of those who prepare the symbol of this party at home. The arancina at Saint Lucia’s day can be compared to the dove at Easter or the panettone at Christmas.
An old belief states that in this Norman church, commissioned by Roberto Guiscardo in 1072, the future mother of Frederick II Queen Constantine D’Altavilla and Santa Rosalia, patron saint of the city before retiring to hermetic life, became nuns. With the aim of creating an even more sumptuous temple overlooking the Cassaro, the church was demolished and rebuilt, first in 1528 and later in 1682 by Paolo Amato, who made the two larger chapels and projected the elliptic dome. Partially destroyed by bombings in 1943 and restored in 1959, it houses stuccos, decorations and majestic frescoes by Vito D’Anna. Today it is used as an auditorium for classical concerts.
How many times have you passed from Vigliena Square, best known as the “Four Corners”? Have you ever noticed the four sculptures represented in the three architectural orders? In addition to the allegorical representation of the four seasons and the four Spanish Kings, on the third order we can observe the sculptures of four women, the four holy protectors of the four districts: Agata, Cristina, Ninfa and Oliva. But who were really these women, heroines of faith, whose devotion has gone fading over the centuries to completely disappear? Women first of all, in a period when the female figure was strongly relegated to the back of society. Heroes and martyrs of a dull, obtuse society that let them paid in life their personal choices of faith. Mythical legends and tales that surely have wrapped up and twisted their real stories. But let’s briefly know each other more closely one by one.
Easter is one of the most important religious event and combines the main moments of Passion, Death and Risen of Christ to the folk rituals, sometimes through dramatic and theatrical forms of expression often in structured and complex way, symbol of total renovation. What is most impressive of Easter in Sicily is the active participation of many people that express itself not only with the classical procession and pilgrimages, but also with the alternation of sad feelings for the Death of Christ and those cheerful and joyful for his Risen. During the Holy Week the historic center of Palermo comes alive with spectacular processions of the painful drama of the dead Christ.
Ten hectares, a bicentennial history: the Botanical Garden is the oldest scientific garden in Europe, among the most prestigious international institutions. Wanted by the Bourbon kings, some nobles and scholars with the aim of contributing to the development of plant science in the interests of medicine and agriculture, it houses plants from all continents with exceptional specimens.
The complex, built in 1789 in neoclassical style (the first example in Sicily), includes the central building, the Gymnasium for the lessons in botany, an Herbarium and other two parts the Calidarium and the Tepidarium.
In more than 10 hectares of its current extension it accommodates a scientific collection of more than 12,000 different species of plants grown in the ground, all arranged according to systematic botanical criteria, where you can admire beautiful specimens of Ficus magnolioides, dragon trees, aloe plants, many collections of exotic plants and many species of palms from all continents. Moreover in this “herbarium mediterraneum” there are preserved tens of thousands of dried plants that constitute a great heritage of scientific and cultural interest.
A walk along the avenues of the gardens is a real journey in science, art and nature.
After the death of Frederick II, the Kingdom of Sicily passed to the French of Charles of Anjou, a period of anarchy that ends in the struggle best known with the name of “Sicilian Vespers”.
31st March 1282. People gathered in the Church of the Holy Spirit to celebrate the function of the Vespers. A French Army soldier outrages a young noblewoman putting his hands on her with the pretext of searching. In the meantime her partner decides to intervene, subtracting the sword to the soldier and killing him. Since that moment, the revolt began, a true “hunt to the French” which spread quickly throughout the island, turning into a massacre.
It is said that the Sicilians used a linguistic stratagem to identify the Frenches camouflaged among the common people, showing them chickpeas ( “ciciri», in Sicilian dialect) and asking them to pronounce the name: those who were betrayed by their French pronunciation (sciscirì) were immediately killed.
One of the most fascinating places in the city, Saint Mary of the Spasimo Church is located in the historic district of the Kalsa, one of the oldest in Palermo. Built around 1509, the works were never concluded. Some years later it became necessary to consolidate the city’s defense system. They were built new boundary walls around the church and in 1537 a fosse was made to dig where once there was the convent. In 1569 the Senate of Palermo bought the complex for military reasons and the monks were forced to move elsewhere.
Beautiful plant with fragrant fruit that produces a rich, flavorful nectar that tastes of velvet and apricot, malvasia was also called “Gods’ nectar”. Its grape is imported by the first Greek colonists around 588 BC into the island of Salina, where the well ventilated soil of volcanic origin is placed at three hundred meters above the sea level. Its name comes from the port of Monemvasia in the Peloponnese, a promontory of great importance on the commercial routes between East and West, which was long fought over in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the Turks and Venetians.
A blast from the past in the heart of Palermo: inside the eighteenth-century rooms of Palazzo Torre Piraino in via Garibaldi stands the house-museum “Stanze al Genio”, born in 2008 with the purpose to make available to the public a rich collection of antique tiles collected in over thirty years and still growing.