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Palermo leaves your senses in a daze. There’s the high-pitch chatter of the locals, car drivers honking, the buzz of scooters, the screeching pink of the oleanders that line the boulevards, the sky-blue of a Madonna’s robe in a roadside shrine, and bright colours of washing flapping from the balconies. There’s a surprise around every corner: the pungent aroma of strong coffee wafting from a bar in an alley, a chapel festooned with mosaics, street signs in mysterious Arabic lettering, or a towering marble statue over a fountain in the piazza – Palermo is truly somewhere where you’ll never be bored.
Main City Rome
Surface 158.9 km²
It’s easy to see how Villa Palagonia – very close to Palermo – earned its nickname: the Villa of Monsters. Studded around its Baroque garden walls, peering through lemon trees, cacti and jasmine, is a menagerie of bizarre stone sculptures. Visitors on the grand tour flock to see Villa Palagonia’s freak show: hunchbacked dwarves, multi-eyed goblins, frowning cherubs and fantastical distorted creatures – the nightmare creation of the Italian villa’s former owner, a disfigured prince who was imprisoned for insanity. Such is the caricatures’ gruesome appearance that local women used to avoid looking at them – afraid their influence might deform their unborn children.
For several years, examples of impressive street art have been springing up on the streets of Palermo. They aren’t just by local artists, there are also some pieces by international artists who have passed through the city. Let’s look at the areas of the city to see what’s happening, as a starting point for discovering these colorful murals and seeking inspiration.
At a stone's throw from the Teatro Politeama in the centre of Palermo, a wide range of places have been open for a few months now, where you can taste something a bit different from Sicilian cuisine. If you're spending a little extra time in the city or want to try something new, there's the "food block": this area of town between via Libertà, via Isidoro La Lumia, via Archimede and piazza Ruggero Settimo is packed with places to eat.