Archive for September, 2012

12 Days in Palermo, Sicily

Posted in art and culture, hotels and restaurants, Palermo, travels on September 3, 2012 by ParisDeluxe&Arty

Still time to go to Sicily for september holidays, the perfect spot to find pleasant heat and sun, meanwhile Paris get colder and colder, greyer and greyer ! Let’s start first with the most beautiful hotel in Palermo, the best location ever for a successfull stay : Villa Igiea.Before I found it, I was dreaming about  a mediterranean garden filled with orange and palm trees overlooking the sea, with a glamourous swimming pool …My dream came true when I saw pictures of Ville Igiea and when we arrived there and visited the mansion,  it was beyond my hopes : as the mansion was created first for an esthete lady ,Donna Fanca Florio,  at the end of XIXth century , and where famous society painter Boldini stayed to paint her portrait. Mmmmm this place sounds definitly very Deluxe&Arty !

As it was very hot , I recommend to visit early in the morning in summer , from 9 to noon. And there is so much to see ! One week is a good timing to see the best of Palermo for monuments and architectural styles as this city had been the crossroad of many different cultural influences which succeeded to mix in an impressive beauty such as arabo-norman style.

My favorite monument is definitly  the Capella Palatina, founded in 1130 by norman king Roger II where you can admire this jewel of  cultural-cross fertilization between islamic art  (the wooden ceiling is a masterpiece of the genre with tempera painted box-sections and stalactic shape) and christian art -influenced by byzantine style with dazzling mosaic on gold background, from 12th and 13th century. I didn’t expect such a beauty when I got inside, it was just breathtaking ! It had been a long time since I haven’t seen so much beauty and spirituality … it’s a total artistic environnement : you’re surrounded by the splendour of architecture and decorative art and it elevates your soul, whatever the God you pray or believe in !

    

I’ve already spoken about my taste for baroque style and I wasn’t desappointed by Palermo, believe me ! The most baroque church is for sure the “Chiesa del Gesù e casa Professa” , , the facade from the end of 16th century even served as decor to famous movie by Visconti “Il Gattopardo” (The Leopard, 1963) with Burt Lancaster, french male icon Alain Delon and glamourousClaudia Cardinale. Inside the church are the triumph and splendour of polychromic marbles, pietra dura marquetry and torso columns-all I like and excite my sense- magnified by natural sunlight.

There is a famous baroque artist who worked so much for churches in 17th and ealy 18th century  in Palermo : Giacomo Serpotta. He’s almost in every churches and  was specialised in stucoes decors. His masterpiece is in Oratorio del Rosario di Santa Cita that offers a monochrome lavish and spectacular representation of the battle of Lepante, the greatest naval battle since Actium, opposing the turkish float to a christian coalition ” The Saint League” on october 7th 1571. The departure was in Messina in Sicily.

In my list of must do in Palermo I could add  :

– San Cataldo, a  church for knights of Jerusalem built 12th century in arabo-norman style with a mosaic grounfloor made of malachite and the original altar piece carved in romaneque style. Minimalist and powerfull.

– San Giovani degli Eremiti : another  arabo-norman style architecture with a lovely garden where jasmin, roses and pomegranates embalm the hot summer.

– The botanical garden  for  freshness and greenery

Il Palazzo Abatellis  for fine art with an unexpected masterpiece by flemish Mabuse (Jan Gossaert), Malvagna Tryptich and two beautifulAntonello da Messina, witjout speaking of amazing medieval anonymous frescoe “The Triumph of Death”

Few kilometers from Palermo don’t miss Monreale and its cathedrale with a tour in the cloister , the masterpiece of norman art whith 228 twin column, all carved with different patterns for capitals and inlaid with mosaic motifs, supporting arcades influenced by islamic art.

If you want to escape the town to go by the seaside I recommend Mondello resort and the restaurant called “Le Terazze”.  A perfect art deco spot to relax and enjoy siclian food and fishes :

 

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