Start your Sicily sightseeing, from the mythical Villa Igieia, in the hills of Palermo!15 min read
For example, you could have a stop in one of the lidos (private beaches) located in Mondello, where the sea front lies between two cliffs called Mount Gallo and Mount Pellegrino (Photos credits: Alex Plato).
The town was originally a small fishing village situated on a marshland, but at the end of the 19th century, it grew into a massive tourist destination. Nonetheless, this balneary resort offers a consequent amount of Liberty styled villas to admire, bordering the seafront promenade, making the town as one of the most famous Art Nouveau gems, in Italy.
The beach and streets of this former fishing village are lined with street food stalls (mostly visible in summer season) and also gourmet restaurants. If you would switch from farniente, the nearby Capo Gallo Nature Reserve proposes hiking trails and offers panoramic views towards the sea.
In this garden, you may also have admired this water art installation, emanating from Manifesta 12, an European Nomadic Biennial project, hosted in a different city every two years. Thus, this twelfth edition of this major international art event, took place in 2018 in Palermo, through many picturesque sites, giving an opportunity to highlight emerging artists, thought-provoking ideas, new artworks especially commissioned for the event, and creative experiences in dialogue with spectacular locations of each host city.
For your information, Manifesta was founded in Amsterdam in the early 1990s as a European biennial of contemporary art, striving to enhance artistic and cultural exchanges after the end of Cold War. In the next decade, Manifesta would focus on evolving from an art exhibition into an interdisciplinary platform for social change, introducing holistic urban research and legacy-oriented programming as the core of its model.
Manifesta is still run by its original founder, the Dutch historian Hedwig Fijen, and managed by a permanent team of international specialists. Each new edition is started up and fundraised individually. Currently, Manifesta is working from its offices in Amsterdam, with an upcoming office in Marseille for Manifesta 13, opening in this French city in 2020.
Orto botanico di Palermo (Botanic Garden), Via Lincoln, 2, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy / Open everyday from 9am to 5pm.
The interior layout is very minimalist and is divided into three naves, separated by ancient columns from other monuments. The church is entirely paved with polychrome marble mosaics, dating from the Norman period.
Indeed, the Norman history in this part of Italy started at the beginning of the 11th century with Rainulf Drengot, an adventurer and mercenary who became, around 1030, the Count of Aversa in the Campania region. He followed, around 1035, Guillaume Bras-de-Fer, the elder of the Hauteville Brothers, who would leave their mark on the area.
In 1059, one of the Guillaume Bras-de-Fer‘s brothers, Robert Guiscard, made a pact with Pope Nicholas II, in which he formally declared his vassal, obtaining in exchange the title of Duke of Apulia, Calabria and of Sicily, to which we must also add the current Basilicata, one part of Campania and the nowadays Molise. The Normans very quickly succeeded in supplanting the local Lombard nobility, in eliminating the Byzantine presence from Southern Italy, back in 1071, and then devoted themselves to conquering Sicily, then in the hands of the Muslims. Sicily was gradually conquered between 1060 to 1091, by Robert Guiscard and his brother Roger, who would have been the first Norman count of the island.
Among those pictures, you may recognize the massive Palazzo Delle Poste, a building especially designed by the rationalist and later fascist government architect Angiolo Mazzoni, in the early 1920s.
Its structure’s construction started in 1929 and the edifice was inaugurated in 1934 with the Italian government’s communications minister Umberto Puppini in attendance. Indeed, the style of the building is typical of the fascist period and falls under the rubric of Italian Rationalism. It covers an area of 5100 m², which is symmetrically structured around two side courtyards. The structure is rendered in reinforced concrete and clad in gray marble from Mount Billiemi. The front colonnade is formed by 10 columns each 30 meters high. Also of note is the large elliptical staircase with a diameter greater than 9 meters.
The interiors are done in the style of Futurism, one of the few examples an interior created as such from the time. All the details were attended to by Angiolo Mazzoni such as the copper-clad doors, the specially designed window handles, the lighting and the choice of marble and stone all from Italy except the black stone of the staircase, as he desired.
This palace was constructed by Giuseppe Merendino in the second half of the eighteenth century on a former seventeenth-century structure. Following the purchase of the Palace by the Marquis Giuseppe Costantino, the edifice underwent an important renovation designed by the Venetian architect Venanzio Marvuglia in a style that combined traditional eighteenth-century elements with neoclassic features.
The main rooms of the Palace were decorated with stuccos, frescos by Gioacchino Martorana, some precious Louis XV and Louis XVI style furniture, made of carved and gold wood, and majolica eighteenth-century floors, like the one depicting La Nascita di Venere. During the Second World War, both German and allied soldiers occupied the palace, damaging its decorations and furniture. In the 1960s, part of the palace was given to La Rinascente society, who was using the adjacent Palazzo Napoli as well. The other frescos are by masters of the time such as Giuseppe Velasco, Elia Interguglielmi and Gaspare Fumagalli.
After having been abandoned for more than a half century, between 2001 and 2003, the last heirs of the Palace sold the entire property to the Bilotti Ruggi d’Aragona family. In the early 2000s the facade of the Palace on via Maqueda was partly restored, whereas the construction site inside the palace has been abandoned for years. Today the palace still belongs to Roberto Bilotti Ruggi d’Aragona.