North of Quattro Canti, Palermo
North of Quattro Canti in Palermo lie the Teatro Massimo, the Archeological Museum and the churches of Santa Zita, Rosario and San Domenico.
The third side road on the left, Via Sant'Agostino, leads to this church of Augustinian canons which was built in the late 13th century and altered several times in the 17th and 18th centuries. The front, with its ogival door and rose-window, dates from the 14th century. The long interior was adorned with rich sculpture-work by Giacomo Serpotta from 1711 onwards.The cloisters with their light arcades of rounded arches date from about 1560. The front of the chapter-house (c. 1300) is preserved in the northeast corner.
Piazza Giuseppe Verdi
From the Quattro Canti Via Maqueda runs northwest to the busy Piazza Giuseppe Verdi, lying between the old and the new town.
Returning to Via Maqueda we find ourselves in the Piazza Giuseppe Verdi, where Via Maqueda enters Via Ruggero Settimo, with its taxi-stands and post office. On the left side of the square Giovanni Battista Basile and his son Ernesto built the 3,200-seat theater between 1875 and 1897. It was officially opened on 16th May 1897 with a performance of Verdi's "Falstaff", and thereafter became one of Sicily's major opera houses.The statue of Lyra is by Mario Rutelli (1850-1931).
Piazzo Ruggero Settimo
At the junction with Via della Libertà, lies the Piazza Ruggero Settimo, named after the president of the short-lived Republic of Sicily of 1848. It is a focal point of city life, with the main bus station, banks, department stores, cinemas and hotels. Here stands the Politeama Garibaldi, built between 1867 and 1874 by Giuseppe Damaiani Almeyda, a building used for various cultural purposes with a front reminiscent of a Roman triumphal arch surmounted by a four-horse chariot in bronze, the work of Mario Rutelli (1874).
Galleria d'Arte Moderna E Restivo
The upper floor of the Polieama Garibaldi houses the Galleria d'Arte Moderna with 19th century paintings, including some by Giuseppe Patania, Francesco Lojacono, Salvatore Lo San Giovanni degli Eremiti Forte, Giuseppe Sciuti, and from the 20th century, by Massimo Campigli, Carlo Carrà, Felice Casorati, Mario Sironi, Arturo Tosi, Renato Guttuso, Gino Severini and others. There is also a collection of Sicilian and Southern Italian sculpture, including works by Benito Civiletti, Mario Rutelli and Franz von Stuck.
From the Piazza Ruggero Settimo in Palermo, Via E. Amari leads down to the harbor, with the Marittima rail station and piers for hydrofoils and ferries.
Foro Umberto I
Along the seafront to the east and southeast of the Porta Felice extends the Foro Umberto I, a broad boulevard which affords magnificent views of the Bay of Palermo and is a popular resort of the citizens on summer evenings. At the southern end of the Foro Umberto I is the beautiful Villa Giulia park, also known as La Flora (laid out in 1777). On the west side of this the Botanic Garden has a magnificent variety of plants including date and coconut palms, banana trees and fine stands of bamboos and papyrus.
West of Santa Maria della Catena in Palermo lies the picturesque boating harbor, La Cala, and to the south is the Piazza Marina, almost entirely occupied by the tropical Giardino Garibaldi. The Palazzo Chiaramonte, usually known as Lo Steri, on the east side of this square, was built between 1307 and 1380 and later became the residence of the viceroy.
San Giorgio dei Genovesi
Following the Via Crispi in a southeasterly direction from the harbor in Palermo is the church built in 1576-91 for the local branch of a Genoese trading firm. This interesting Renaissance building is a triple-aisled, cruciform columned basilica, rectangular in plan with an octagonal drum-dome. The 1601 altar-piece of St Luke painting a portrait of the Madonna is by Filippo Paladino.
A little way to the southwest of San Giorgio, in Via Squarcialupo in Palermo, stands the former Dominican church of Santa Zita, founded in 1369. It was renovated by merchants in 1586-1603 and given a Baroque facade in the 18th century. The older internal furnishings have been preserved, including a marble arch and an reredos by Antonello Gagini (1517).
Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Zita
To the left of Santa Zita stands the Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Zita, the house of devotion of a Rosenkranz brotherhood. It is richly decorated with stucco work by Giacomo Serpotta and his school, including the wall near the entrance with its large, gathered stucco "curtain" into which are worked numerous figures and the naval battle of Lepanto of 1571. The altar-piece "Madonna of the Rosary" was painted by Carlo Maratta in Rome in 1695.
Piazza di San Domenico
From the east side of the Archeological Museum in Palermo Via Roma runs south past the Head Post Office (on right) to the Piazza San Domenico, in which stands an Immacolata Column of 1724, designed by Tommaso Maria Napoli and built by Giovanni Amico.
Piazza San Domenico in Palermo is named after the church of San Domenico, originally built in the 13th century but finally rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1636 and 1640. The massive twin-towered front was added in 1726; like the Column to Our Lady, it was designed by T. M. Napoli. The church is a spacious, triple-aisled basilica. The rich fittings include a marble pietà (depicting the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ on her lap) by Domenico Gagini (c. 1460) and a large Rococo organ of 1781. It was in San Domenico that the parliament called by Ruggero Settimo (Roger VII) in 1848 sat, and subsequently the old Dominican church became a Sicilian pantheon, or burial-place for the illustrious dead; here will be found the graves of the politicians F. Crispi and R. Settimo, the poet G. Meli, the painter P. Novelli and the astronomer G. Piazzi, among others.
Address: Piazza San Domenico, I-90100 Palermo, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-11am, 5pm-7pm
Museo del Risorgimento
The 14th century cloisters of San Domenico, the entrance to which is on the left near the church, lead through to the Museu del Risorgimento, which exhibits documents and mementos of the Italian Unification Movement, including the Sicilian Constitution of 1812, references to the 1821 and 1848 Revolutions and Garibaldi's "Thousand Heroes".
Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico
Beyond San Domenico in Palermo stands the Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico, which may be visited in the company of the verger, who lives at Via Bambinai 16. Dating from 1578 this building, like the Oratorio of St Zita, was lavishly adorned with stucco work by Giacoma Serpotta. Below the paintings is a Madonna and Rosary with St Dominic by Anthonis van Dyck (1628).
A little to the south of the Oratorio del Rosario di San Domenico, running parallel with Via Vittorio Emanuele, Vuccirìa is the largest and most popular market street in Palermo, rich in tradition.
Near Vuccirìa, in Via Roma in Palermo, stands the church of Sant'Antonio Abate, erected in the 14th century on Norman foundations. In the 19th century it was completely renovated without sacrificing any of its original fabric. Inside can be seen two beautiful 16th century stoops by Camillo Camilliani.
Following Via Roma from the Piazza San Domenico northwestwards leads to the Piazza Olivella and to this triple-aisled columned basilica built in 1585 by Antonino Muttone for the Brotherhood of St Filippo Neri. Its mighty dome was added in 1732. The church was damaged in the Second World War but has since been restored. In 1769 Giovanni Venanzio Marvuglia built the Classically-styled Oratory of the Brotherhood near the church.Adjoining the church on the other side are the extensive monastery buildings of the Brotherhood of Filippo Neri with its two cloisters. Since 1866 they have housed the Archeological Museum.
The Archeological Museum in Palermo contains an incredible collection of antiquities and is considered one of the finest of its kind in Italy.