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29 June 2020

Holidays in Sicily? 5 curiosities about Palermo that you don’t know yet!

The history of the city of Palermo is full of curiosities and anecdotes that make it one of the most special cities in the world. During your holidays in Sicily you will get in touch with a rich, varied and multicultural history. The beauty of Palermo enchants the eyes and heart of those who visit it and its folklore is hard to find elsewhere. Land of welcome and scenery of different dominations, Palermo collects the traces of treasures to be discovered.

That’s why, to help you get to know the city better we will help you to enrich your holidays in Sicily with 5 curiosities that, we are sure, will make you fall in love even more.

Did you know that the Massimo Vittorio Emanuele Theatre is the first Opera House in Italy and one of the largest opera buildings in Europe? It is an imposing and extraordinarily beautiful building built after the demolition of two buildings: The Church of San Francesco delle Stimmate and the Church of San Giuliano. According to a popular legend, however, during the demolition, the tomb of a nun called the “nun” was erroneously desecrated, whose spirit in pain is believed to still be around on the stage, behind the scenes or in the basements. Furthermore, according to tradition, those who do not believe in the legend and visit the Theater always end up stumbling on the usual step which, precisely, has been renamed “the nun’s step”.

A stone’s throw from Piazza Verdi stands the Palatine Chapel. It is the work that best represents the city’s multiculturalism. Wanted by Roger II of Altavilla, the first Norman king of the island, it is an artistic charm. It’s the perfect meeting between Eastern and Western Art, Arab and Byzantine culture. The ceiling in particular is considered to be the greatest Islamic art monument in the world. The images that are represented include phytoform, zoomorphic elements, splendid and mythological animals, but above all human figures, and this is the real curiosity! In other cities where Muslim art had its roots, it was forbidden to represent human figures. In Palermo, however, thanks to the policy of cultural and ethnic tolerance implemented by Roger II, Muslim art was able to express itself in all its beauty.

Entering the alleys of the city, in the Palermo district of Cuba, you can access the Capuchin Catacombs and visit the “Sleeping Beauty“. Inside the Catacombs there are about 8000 mummies, but among these the most famous is that of the small Rosalia Lombardo. Dead at only 2 years of age due to pneumonia, the small is also the best-preserved mummy in the world and her embalming was cured by Alfredo Salafia. Its appearance appears intact, seraphic, it seems that it is sleeping. That’s why it is called Sleeping Beauty.

That the city of Palermo is totally devoted to Santuzza, or Santa Rosalia, is well known. But what many don’t know is that in popular culture, Il Genio plays an equally fundamental role. He is depicted as a mature and crowned man, with a thick beard divided in half. He holds a snake in his arms, which like a child, feeds on his chest. It is therefore, like a supernatural being that protects the city, but the real challenge is to find all its representations. We can tell you that one is located in Villa Giulia and another in Piazza Rivoluzione, you will have to find the other ones yourself!

But let’s move on to typical Sicilian products! Have you ever tasted a Pupaccena? Traditional Sicilian sweets, the Pupaccena or Pupi di zuccaro are sugar figurines with the features of toy soldiers, dancers and peasant girls that the people of Palermo usually eat for the Festa dei Morti. The origins of the sugar puppets are uncertain, but it is said that an Arab nobleman who has now fallen into disrepair, after having invited some guests to dinner and being unable to prepare rich and succulent dishes, ordered his cook to create a recipe based on sugar only . They were a great success!

Whether you choose a house overlooking the sea or not, the tourist routes of Palermo are a destination not to be missed during your holidays in Sicily. We hope you’ve been curious!

Choose one of our holiday homes and you won’t regret it!