“Pic of the Week”, April 7, 2023: Porta Nuova, Palermo

00 Porta Nuova, Palermo

This tall and impressive gate was built in the 15th century at a time when Palermo was surrounded by a city wall.  The gate was called “Porta dell’Aquila” (Gate of the Eagle) but the people of Palermo called it “Porta Nuova” (“New Gate“), and that name has stuck.  The gate was reconstructed in the 16th century to honor Holy Roman Emperor Charles V’s conquest of Tunis from the Ottoman Empire.  The gate was destroyed by a fire caused when lightening exploded a gunpowder store in the upper levels in 1667; an exact copy was reconstructed within 2 years.
Porta Nuova is close to two of Palermo’s most popular attractions, Palazzo dei Normanni and Capella Palatina, but …

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.All Trips / Europe / Italy

A Religious Procession in Palermo


Sometimes you encounter unexpected sights while rambling around the streets of a city.  While wandering Palermo in Sicily early one February afternoon, we came across this religious procession.  I don’t speak the language, so it was unclear to me what was being celebrated.  But the icons appear to be old and of an Orthodox nature.
After I took a few still photos, I switched to video mode and captured this amateur footage, to give you a feeling for what the experience was like.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)

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Sicily’s Colorful Cart Art

00 Sicilian carts (1)

Sicilian carts have a long history, dating to the time of Greek occupation when they were used to haul goods inland.   They were especially popular around a hundred years ago, until they were all but completely replaced by automobiles and trucks in the 1950s.
What makes these carts unique is their colorful decorations.  Some carts have carvings, some have have paintings, all of which tell stories about Sicilian history and folklore.
We came across this collection of carts and related art while walking in an alley in Palermo.  I thought it interesting that even three-wheeled trucks had decorations similar to the carts.

(Carretto_Siciliano. Courtesy of Filippo Piazza and Wikimedia)

I found the photo above on Wikimedia, which shows how lovely the carts and horses …

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Wandering the Lanes of Palermo

One Clue Mystery 2

Palermo is an ancient city at least 2,700 years old,   Of course it has grown and modernized over the years, but it has an old and gritty quality to it.   I was charmed during our rambling to see how many narrow roads and lanes persist.  It reminds me of cities that were laid out in medieval times.
Many of the lanes are quite narrow, in places narrow enough that a standard car might have trouble navigating the passage.  For that reason alone its worth exploring on foot, where you’ll experience the true personality of the city.  Here you’ll discover people’s homes, cafes, small restaurants, and children playing in the road.  There aren’t many places like it that I’ve encountered in …

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Near the MALBA, Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires 002 Palermo Malbec Museum

While visiting Buenos Aires, my wife and I wanted to see the MALBA, a museum of modern Latin-American art that came highly recommended.  It was a rainy day and when our taxi dropped us off at the steps of the MALBA we were disappointed to find it closed for the day.  So it goes — should have called ahead before coming.
Not wanting to waste the morning, we decided to walk around the upscale Palermo Chico neighborhood in which the museum is situated.  It’s a safe neighborhood — not all areas of Buenos Aires are recommended for tourists — and we had no firm plans about where to go.  We just wanted to explore a little.
A few blocks south on Ave …

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Palermo’s Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico)

01a Orto Botanico

While Sicily itself is green and lovely after the rains, Palermo doesn’t have many spacious parks or gardens.  This is in part why exploring Orto Botanico di Palermo (Palermo Botanical Garden) was a treat for my wife and I.  It covers about 30 acres and has a large and interesting variety of plants that are pleasant to stroll through.  Orto Botanico also conducts research for the Department of Botany, University of Palermo. 

The garden dates to 1779 when the University created a chair of “botany and medicinal properties” and dedicated a plot of land for a botanical garden.  The goal was to grow and study plants that useful had medicinal properties.  The garden was moved to the present site in 1786 when …

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Palermo’s Palazzo dei Normanni

02 Exterior of Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (2)

Palazzo dei Normanni (Palace of the Normans) is the old Royal Palace in Palermo, Sicily.  It was built in the 9th century by the Arab/Islamic rulers for the harems of their emirs.  It was expanded and renovated by the Normans who subsequently conquered Sicily in 1072.  The Norman kings transformed the building into a multi-functional complex that served as an administrative center and a royal residence.  During the period of Norman rule, Sicily thrived and prospered.

The Palazzo sits on the highest spot in Palermo and is the oldest royal residence in Europe.  After the Normans left, Palazzo dei Normanni was not used for several centuries.  But the palace returned to an administrative role in the second half of the sixteenth century, when the Spanish governors chose …

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“Pic of the Week”, July 7, 2017. A Wedding in Palermo

04 Wedding in Palermo Palazzo del Normanni (16)

One of the pleasures of traveling is stumbling on memorable scenes of everyday life.  So it was as we waited to gain admittance to the Capella Palatina

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