Tell me one city in the world that will automatically recall your word "mafia"! How many of you mention this? It is true that Cosa Nostra also contributed to the modernization of the local airport which was named after 2 fighters against mafia Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone. But it is also the capital of the largest Italian island has one of the largest ports in the Mediterranean and is one of the top city destinations, so it certainly has no shortage of tourists. Have you thought about Palermo?We are talking about it.
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Walking through the streets of Palermo, I had the feeling that its whole past was following me like a chilling ghost. He led my hand along the way from one of its witnesses to the next,
as if the past wanted to stop for a moment, get stuck, tear up, or maybe just tell the truth. At the same time, life in the city around flowed along the beaten track. Africans were gathering on the porches looking into the void, Arabs smoking in front of the shops, Italians calling loudly on the sidewalks. A variety of nationalities and races met on every street in Palermo, ignoring the chilling feeling that was part of their life cycle.
I took the first steps in Palermo in front of the railway station at Piazza Giulio Cesare1a big roundabout surrounded by historical buildings. Naturally, everyone thinks to find here somewhere also Ceasar. " Ma dov´è Giulio Cesare?“2 I asked myself. The whole traffic is not supervised by Gaius Iulius Caesar, but from the saddle of his horse by the first Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II. This whole scene of Ceasar square with a statue of Vittorio Emanuele II. is completed by chaotically driving cars. We were helped by local edicola not to miss the road and right direction3where they had "tutte le mappe del mondo "4. At first glance, it may seem easy to get lost, as the city is full of small narrow streets where it is best to transport on motobikes. However, there are several boulevards that give this maze the possibility of orientation.
We cautiously crossed over driving cars (they seemed disorganized to us, because we did not understand the function of traffic signs, which are obviously explained by local people in a different way. We did not reveal what these signs in Sicily means.) and turned left to one of the main boulevards of Via Maqueda.The mouth of this street is Porta di Vicari- two wells, which unfortunately the locals turned into bins.
Although we were equipped with a map of the best newsagent, at one of these wells we were stopped by a low, full-bodied Sicilian who mourned the two confused tourists, although we navigated the map without any problems. He probably didn't have that feeling, because we were the only ones with the map in hand and we didn't run up and down like most. He was willing to explain to us how to get to the main tourist attractions, but unfortunately Sicilian dialect is very unknown to me, so its explanation did not have the desired effect. We continued to follow the map.
Via Maqueda opened in front of us. I left my eyes on so much beauty and magnificence. This place is a good starting point to walk through the history of Sicily. The character of the whole street is very uniform, which is perhaps even a disadvantage, because you can easily overlook something important. Keep your eyes widely open! Among the houses and shops you will find many churches such as Chiesa di Sant´Orsola dei Negri, Chiesa Di San Nicolo da Tolentino, Chiesa di San Giuseppe dei Padri Teatini. The presence of many of them is indicated only by small inscription on the door, around which crowds of tourists pass every minute.
I am glad that we thought of looking at one of them. The silence and peace it radiated gave it the meaning of something beyondworld. It is difficult to describe the unreal works of art that adorn all churches. Shocked by this pleasant surprise, I continued to watch every door I passed and wherever Chiesa sign ... 5was peeping with interest. Almost every time I discovered something incredible.
After about 10 minutes, 2 magnificent churches appeared on the right side, which differed from all others. Chiesa di San Cataldo is named after St. Cataldo and La Martorana also called Santa Maria dell´Ammiraglio is a church with mosaics from the 12th century, which are the oldest in Sicily. Both have a slightly oriental tinge. Next to them there is the town hall building and opposite Facoltà di Giurisprudenza dell´Università degli Studi Di Palermo the Faculty of Law of the local university.
From this grouping of monuments you will take a few steps to the next treasures of Piazza Pretoriawhere you will find Palazzo Pretorio with its fountain of ancient statues and Palazzo Bonocore. Our attention was attracted by the chaotically waving and running policeman, who was very swiftly managing the small driving car. His way of organizing brought us to the Quattro cantiwhich is a circular space and at the same the junction of 2 boulevards Via Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda.
There are 4 buildings on the corners, which are decorated with classical Greek statues depicting 4 seasons. Each of these statues also served as a small well. Walking through Palermo you will find plenty of wells and drinkers that would be a pleasant refreshment during the hot summer days. Unfortunately, most would need revitalization.
From Quattro Canti the crowd went to the left towards Palermo Cathedral. A short distance from Quattro canti there is Quinto canto and a number of architectural treasures commemorating the past - Palazzo riso, Palazzo Alliata di Villafranca, Palazzo Drago Ajroldi di Santacolomba, Palazzo Cottone Castelnuovo, Palazzo Castrone and many others.
The crowd of tourists, who had been in motion all the time, stopped suddenly and turned his gaze to the right. It was clear from a distance what they might admire. It was Cattedrale di Palermo. We hurried so we could join the crowd.
The area in front of the cathedral is an elegantly landscaped park. Behind him, a huge stone beauty with a curia and archive (Curia Arcivescovile and Archivio Storico Diocesano di Palermo) is waiting for another influx of tourists. Getting inside wasn't that hard, so don't worry about long rows. Certainly everyone will enjoy the pleasant shade of the cathedral. After acclimatizing to the indoor temperature you can start to enjoy the interior. The cathedral is not as richly decorated as we watched in churches along the way. But it does not deprive her of beauty.
For a fee, you can see Palermo from the roof of the cathedral and visit the tomb of Frederick II. and the Sicilian nobility. The advantage is that the tour does not last long, so you will still have the power to travel further. Next to the cathedral you will find a number of refreshment stalls.
Via Vittorio Emanuele also took you to a park with tall palm trees - Parco Villa Bonnano, where the local taxi driver tried to fool us for a 4-seater bike ride. He tried hard, but we still did not respond to his call “taxi, taxi”. A few meters from the Palermo taxi stand Piazza della Vittoria and and the second symbol Palazzo dei Normanni are located.
The Normans palace houses the astronomical and astrophysical observatory, church Cappella Palatina and Sala di Ercolewhere the Sicilian Parliament is located. The palace also includes a garden - Giardino Palazzo Normanni, a gate - Porta nuova and the church of St. Mary Magdalene - Chiesa Santa Maria Maddalena. Unfortunately, we did not increase the time for other attractions of the city, but you must also visit Teatro Massimo, the Archaeological museum, the Catacombs of the Capucins and the Botanical Garden.
Palermo is a meeting point of different cultures, as evidenced by the monuments, but also a varied mix of its inhabitants. Its atmosphere is really special. On the one hand, you feel the magnificence this city has as the center of the island, and on the other, there are stories about Cosa Nostra. Of course, all the excited tourists ask where the mafia is. There are no people running on the streets with the words I am 'capo di mafia', but the strange way you feel their presence in the air.
How to call this city using only one word and what to say about it? It's not just history, it's not a mix of cultures or good food, it's something more that you can't name and you start to perceive it from the moment you enter the city. It is a scorching, hot sun, drought and reeds, lots of stunning buildings, historic sights pressed side by side that you won't explore in a month, and their opposites on the peripheris, a mix of scents of various goodies on the street, motobikes sounds and buzzing cars, a vivacious raft of unlimited volume, clashes that you don't know what to think about and how to explain, and various stories written by the history of this city. You may have to be a coragious to be able to live here, but only a madman will miss Palermo. Go ahead! Coraggio!6
1 Iulius Ceasar square
2 Where is the Ceasar?
4 All the maps of the world
6 Let´s go!