After decades of Mafia domination, Sicily’s chief city – Palermo – is re-emerging as one of Europe’s great capitals. This dazzling city presents intriguing contrasts, from elegant shopping quarters to the ancient and enchanting old city, divided by winding alleys lined with noisy outdoor markets. Its incredible mixture of cultures, architectural styles and culinary flavours is now infused with an optimism that is expressing itself in a frenzy of restoration, nightlife and cultural creativity. Part Punic, part Phoenician, part Roman, part Arab, the city of Palermo is strong stuff. Snugly spectacular in its bay setting by Sicily’s Monte Pellegrino, it looks, as a garibaldino approaching it from the sea once said, like a city imagined by a poetic child. Colorful relics of Middle Eastern domination mix with the Norman and Baroque, so the back of a building might look entirely different from its front or sides. Renaissance palaces next to hovels, 194 churches, and the domed roofs of onetime mosques – all reminders of countless invaders. History is a tumble, a chaos. Palermo is an experience, Palermo is a vibe.
Photos by Edward Kanarecki.
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