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Palermo Guide Italy

Places and charm

Getting there
History and culture

Churches and Museums
Historical buildings and monuments
Places and charm

Food and drink
Hotels and lodgings

La Dolce Vita

A special day
Trip outside the city

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Places and charm

The places to see to get to know the true essence of this city.
  • Quattro Canti
    This is the heart of the old city center of Palermo and corresponds to Piazza Vigliena, which has been known as Quattro Canti for centuries, but also as “Teatro del Sole” as one can always see the sun from this spot, from dawn to dusk. The square is located at the crossroads between the city’s two main streets: Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda that cut Palermo into four parts, known as “mandamenti”.
    In the four corners of the square there are four seventeenth-century palaces, whose façades have a convex shape facing onto the square, and four basins with statues that represent the four seasons.
  • Kalsa
    This is Palermo’s Arabic quarter, built close to the sea in an era of people’s riots, in order to allow the Emir to escape in the event of revolt. In ancient times it was home to the Arabs’ entire military contingent when they ruled the city, their administrative and political offices, and also their prisons. It was named “al-halisah” that means “the elected one” in Arabic. Today it is a working-class area of the city, extremely picturesque, where it is still possible to capture a feel of the ancient Arabic-Sicilian culture and often smell the strong aromas of the food that is prepared in the several kiosks along the streets. The center of the Kalsa quarter is the square which carries the same name. The sixteenth-century gateway, Porta dei Greci, also known as Porta d’Africa, from where it is possible to glimpse the sea, is a sight worth visiting.
  • Real Tenuta della Favorita
    This fantastic park, that lies immediately outside the city center, was the hunting grounds for the Bourbon court of Ferdinando III when, after the Parthenopean Republic was proclaimed in 1799, the King of Naples was forced to take refuge in Palermo. Ferdinando had a palace built and ordered the architects to design it in Oriental style. This was how the Casina Cinese (Chinese Lodge), that can still be seen unspoilt today, was built. All around the royal residence, this immense park was laid out, similar to the one that existed near Naples, where the exiled king would have been able to dedicate himself to his favorite pastimes: hunting and botany.
    Walking through this maze of small, tree-lined avenues in the Parco della Favorita, built to look like the royal park at the entrance to Naples, it is still possible to see the many exotic and officinal plants, small squares, statues, obelisks and fountains.
  • Orto botanico - Botanical Gardens
    This wonderful, charming garden was laid out at the end of the eighteenth century and is still one of the largest, most important gardens in Europe today. The Orto Botanico in Palermo stands on about eleven hectares and it is possible to see plants from all over the world, including some very rare, valuable ones. The gardens contain 12,000 vegetable species, including tropical, aquatic, fiber, medicinal and carnivorous plants, and many others too. The giant species of ficus magnolioides are not to be missed.
  • Vucciria
    To truly see a cross-section of Palermo life, we suggest a walk round the Vucciria market, that spreads outs between Via Roma and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. This is one of the most characteristic places in Palermo, where there is a unique, strongly Sicilian atmosphere, that is made even more intense through the aromas of the typical local produce from the land and sea. This picturesque market was immortalized by Renato Guttuso, the famous artist who was born in Bagheria, in his painting entitled “La Vucciria”.

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