Simple and immediate the logo designed for Palermo Capital of Culture 2018 by the 22 year old Sabrina Ciprì – student at the Academy of Arts – declines in four languages the cultures that laid the foundations in the city of Palermo.
In one of the most evocative corners of the historic center of Palermo, the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi stands in its severe monumentality, one of the most distinguished and significant churches in Palermo for its artistic and historical value. An authentic treasure of history and masterpieces of art by the greatest Sicilian artists and not only, who left here works of extraordinary beauty.
According to the historian Fazello, the Church of St. John of the Lepers was the first of the Norman buildings erected in the city, when Robert the Guiscard and Roger of Autville besieged Arabian Palermo. For others, it went back to the period of Roger II, in the first half of the 20th century and draws its name from a leprous hospital, now destroyed, which the king himself built in memory of his brother Goffredo.
By now it almost seems a lost art: embroidery, spinning and weaving. Nevertheless, the passion and initiative of a group of people ensure this rich Sicilian tradition is not forgotten altogether. The Northern coast of the island, from Palermo to Messina, used to be the Sicily’s “silk road” and there’s evidence of embroidery dating back to Norman times.
The Berlingieri marquises are the new owners of the Boldini’s painting depicting Donna Franca Florio, which will be put on display in Palazzo Mazzarino, one of their properties. The painting was the most valuable item amongst the furniture, sculpture and ceramics that went to auction last march from the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, where it had been on display since 2005. Donna Franca, best known as the “Queen of Palermo”, was also nicknamed the “Star of Italy” by Kaiser Wilhelm II and described as “unique” by Gabriele D’Annunzio. She was beautiful, elegant, and fluent in four languages, she was the ambassador of a city that dreamt of being the economic and elite capital of Italy.
Walking through the colorful and crowded streets of Ballarò market, you can see a dome in the distance, probably the most beautiful in the city, covered in majolica, that’s one of the most fanciful buildings of Sicilian baroque. It belongs to the Church of Carmine Maggiore, built by Carmelites in the end of the XII century then demolished and built back up at the beginning of XVII century based on a design by Mariano Smiriglio. The outside is decorated with four pairs of fluted columns with four Atlases that hold up the dome in between. Inside the church with 3 naves, it’s important to see the holy water fountain and the Gagini statues, the stuccoes by Serpotta and the Vergine del Carmelo painted by Pietro Novelli.
The Four Corners (Quattro Canti) are the symbolic centre of Palermo, where via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele intersect under the eyes of Spanish Kings and patron saints. Palazzo Costantino Di Napoli rises there with its 8,700 sq.m of stuccoes, frescoes, stairways and 18th-century rooms.
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.
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.