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.
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.