Palermo 2016 into 2017

A Christmas Tree on the street in the Piazza Della Kalsa

On the back-end of bronchitis I’ve been hacking, wheezing and coughing my way through Palermo with the long-suffering travel mate. Here’s part of the first day.

First impressions: Grit – the sort that swirls around your feet – , garbage and graffiti. Everything seems pitted and pocked and either under construction or crumbling. Narrow streets with washing hanging from the windows and narrow sidewalks of shiny stones often blocked by plants, parked cars and the occasional sleeping dog.It’s a walkable city – if you keep a careful eye out for the uneven pavers and an ear for ubiquitous motorcycles.

This city, like Sicily itself, has seen and survived it all – Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans and the Allied 8th Army – the effects of whose bombing in 1943 are still visible. Palermo is a lived-in city, not just a tourist destination. And it’s stuffed with extraordinary things to see.

Piazza Della Kalsa

It’s been chilly to balmy and we are warm in our self-catering apartment in the Kalsa district of East Palermo down by the harbor and right across the road from an excellent restaurant. We even have underfloor heating.

Kalsa is from the Arabic al-Halisah – the Chosen – and was originally built in the 10th century as the Arab seat of government. As with everything in Palermo it has many changes since then including the devastation of WW2 that reduced much of the quarter to rubble.

A wander down the street and around the corner and the magic begins.

The Galleria Regionale della Sicilia is housed in the Catalan gothic Palazzo Abatellis – 19 rooms of art around a large open courtyard.

Here’s a grim detail from the huge fresco Triumph of Death (artist unknown) that is right at the opening.

Detail from Triumph of Death


And just look at the side eye expression on this face! Maddelena by  Giovanni van Scorel.  (1495-1562)








And here is Antonello da Messina’s Annunciata.

Detail from La Trinita Tra Angeli, Gabriele E L’Annunziata.





This Madonna Del Fiore has a most professorial baby.





Walking home with the groceries.

Harbor Lights for Christmas


  1. You made it! I see you went inside the puppet museum round the corner (we didn’t), and where’s that big beautiful cloister seen from above? Trusting Via Butera 28 is as good as I promised…
    David N´s last blog post ..Freud Museum memories on Radio 3

    • Hi David – As you can see I rather edited the post after your comment. I think the cloister was Monreale. And yes Butera 28 is as promised. We enjoyed Palermo very much and feel we have only scratched the surface of all it has to offer.

      • Indeed – as you’ve now labelled it. Looks different from above but because of the magnitude and the details on the pillars, it’s one of the world’s great cloisters. I love seeing all this and much I didn’t encounter through your eyes. I hear you’re now in Siracusa and hope you make the magnificent Parco Arcaeologico, snow or not.
        David N´s last blog post ..Burning off 2016 on a Dutch beach

  2. Wonderful! Especially compelling are the pairs of hands, and thank you for the enlargements – can’t decide which is the more remarkable! Feel well, and travel safely! Enjoyed the sharing — Elizabeth

  3. George Mattingly:

    Thanks so much for sharing this experience. Great sense of editing (both in and out) and wonderful photos. The only thing better than armchair travel is armchair travel with someone paying attention to things that would matter to me as well.

  4. Dennis:

    Terrific pictures of the Galleria Regionale. I love Palermo. So much to see and experience and yet not overrun with tourist clutter.

Post a Comment

* (will not be published)

CommentLuv badge

Random Posts

%d bloggers like this: