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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 …
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 …
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…
The most famous of Palermo’s four main markets is the Vucciria market. The market’s name is derived from the Sicilian language, wherein Vucciria means “voices”. Interesting…a market named for the sound of those bartering and dealing. You’ll find this market, which winds through the curving graffiti-covered streets around Piazza San Domenico, in the heart of Palermo’s historic district.
The Vucciria market is open every day except Sunday, from dawn until about 2 pm. You’ll find all kinds of fresh produce, seafood, meats and grocery items. Souvenirs, household goods and handcrafts are also for sale. A market has been held on these streets for at least 700 years.
My wife and I had looked forward to strolling through the Vucciria market because of …
I’ve visited dozens of wonderful churches in my life, some vaste and grand like St. Peter’s in Rome, or Westminister Abbey in London, others smaller and with a more intimate feel. As a rule, I’m partially to smaller chapels and churches, and there are two at the top of my list of favorites. The most beautiful church I’ve ever been in, and because of the nature of it also the most beautiful painting of the Renaissance, is the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. Seeing the Sistine Chapel for the first time actually made me gasp in awe — a travel first for me! But another smaller church that caught my eye and amazed me with its beauty is the Palatine …
There are four big street markets in Palermo, one in each of the 4 historic quarters of the city. We had chance to visit two of these during our visit to Sicily and the Mercato di Ballaro was the one we liked most.
While I’d read about the market in my trip preparation, we stumbled on it by accident as we were heading back to our hotel from a visit to the Capella Palatina. The market winds down a small street for a number of blocks, with wall-to-wall vendors on both sides of the road. The market caters to the workers and families who live in the area; while it runs all day, it’s busiest in the morning, slows …