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Customs and traditions

Palermo is an open air museum; the different architectural styles intermingle through its streets as if it were a history book . This great artistic legacy is the visible testimony to the influences of the various cultures that have lived in it.

Quattro Canti, the epicenter of Palermo’s historic center, is an octagonal square formed by the intersection of two major roads: Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, which are surrounded by four identical facades adorned with baroque sculptures. The seventeenth century square is also called Il Teatro del sole, since the sun gradually illuminates each part of the square thoughout the day. The four fountains in the square point to the four historic districts: Kalsa to the southeast, Amalfitania to the northeast and Sincaldi Albergheria to the northwest and southwest.

The beauty of this city lies within the chaotic streets, particularly in the Capo district. It is one of the oldest areas of Palermo, and houses a maze of rocks and semi-destroyed churches.The Capo District is an abandoned, quiet location in the center, away from the chaotic and noisy traffic.

Some aspects to consider in Palermo

In the Antica Focacceria .S Francesco, established in 1834, you can taste the rich palermitana gastronomy. Specialties include the "panino meusa", a sandwich made of boiled spleen, lung and liver of bezerro, and the "arancini", an emblem of Sicilian gastronomy. It´s said to be the first local town who refused to pay the "pizzo", a tax that businesses have to give the mafia. Another great place to try the local cuisine is the Vuccira market .Here you can buy fresh produce, eat typical fried food, such as croquettes, fried vegetables, or fried fish, and visit stalls offering the usual panini.

The Opera of Pupi, marionettes consisting of three Sicilian threads representing chivalrous fights, is one of the Sicilian traditions. To learn about the Sicilian puppet theater workshop, which has been a way of life for generations for this family, visit the Cuticchio on Via Bara all'Olivera to admire the collection dating back to the early nineteenth century. To this day, the workshop displays musical instruments, puppets and essence machinery. The Cuticchio is magical! Or visit the Museum of Antonio Pasqualino 4000, which houses a collection of puppets from around the world.

Another great custom is Sicilians coffee, which is always accompanied by a glass of water and ordered at the bar. Keep in mind that ordering table service may increase the cost by 50%.

Finally, a curiosity we discovered in the award-winning documentary "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" is a typical hand gesture in the shape of horns, called "malocchio". The documentary explains the origin of this superstitious gesture which is typical amongst older Sicilian women in the street in order to avoid the evil eye. Heavy metal fans started making this gesture in concerts after it was introduced by Ronnie James DIO.

A place well worth discovering! Check out our flights here.

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The most famous theatres in Europe

Fancy a night at the opera? No, we're not talking about the film by the Marx Brothers – we mean the real opera. We would like to invite you to dress up to the nines and go on a tour of Europe's historic theatres, to enjoy important operas and contemporary dramas, and even pop concerts. Let's go back in time and take a look at the history of the most famous theatres in Europe. The curtain goes up...

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On the trail of Corleone. Movie spots in Sicily

Movie tourism is a fun way to explore a city, discovering the places where some of our favorite scenes were filmed and where our favorite actors ever acted.
No one can deny the close relationship between Sicily and the cinema when 60 kilometers from Palermo, we come across a city like Corleone that makes the island a world tourist destination for curious and moviegoers.
Let us therefore take a tour around the locations of one of the most famous trilogies in movie history!

1.- Massimo Theatre

The Masimo Theatre in Palermo is located in Piazza Verdi and is the largest of the opera houses in Italy and the third largest in Europe, a neoclassical building dating from the nineteenth century.

On the front steps of this Opera House in Sicily, Coppola filmed the final scene of the film The Godfather III, one of the highlighted moments, in which Mary, Michael Corleone’s daughter, is killed by a gunman while the Intermezzo for Pietro Mascagni Cavaleria’s Opera Rusticana is played on the background .

2.- Villa Malfitano

This neo-Renaissance villa style is found in Via Dante Alighieri, 167 and is home to the Whitaker Foundation. The art collections compiled by the owner during his travels, like furniture, paintings, porcelain and Flemish tapestries from the sixteenth century garnish the rooms in the inside. Its beautiful garden is rated 5 hectares with curious plants from around the world, such as Tunisia, Sumatra, Australia, and some 150 different kinds of orchids. You can visit Villa Malfitano every morning from Monday to Saturday

Here took place the toast to Anthony‘s debut as opera singer. Anthony is the son of Michael Corleone.

3.- Castello degli Schiavi

Castello degli Schiavi, a Sicilian villa into decay already used in 1968 by Pier Paolo Pasolini to shoot some scenes for the movie The orgy is located  in Via Marina Fiumefreddo,  in the other end of the island. But surely, appearing in The Godfather I and II, has made the castle famous. Coppola used it for various scenes, especially is remembered for being Michael Corelone‘s death place.

4.- Corleone

Even if the name makes this famous family come to your mind, Corleone was not the real place for the film’s shooting. Want to know why? By the time of filming “The Godfather”,  a judge’s murderer was nearby so they had to find new location for filming scenes corresponding to Corleone. They finally took place in two small coastal towns: Savoca and Forza D’Agro.

Despite his fame, today Corleone is a key city in the fight against the Mafia. The proof of this is Laboratorio della Legalità, a museum center founded by organizations involved in fighting the mafia, and dedicated to Magistrate Paolo Borsellino, killed during the mafia’s massacres. At the time, this building provided shelter to Bernardo Provenzano, the head of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra until his arrest in 2006.

Do not leave Corleone without trying their famous cannoli, a Sicilian origin dessert prepared here as nowhere else! This is a tube-shaped pasta filled with sweet creamy made of ricotta . “Leave the gun, take the canoli” says Peter Clemenza in a movie scene.

5.- Other Sicilian movie sites

If you are interested in this type of film tourism, you can also get close to Chiusa Sclafani, the magical village that inspired Giuseppe Tornatore to create Giancaldo in Cinema Paradiso as well as Bagheria, Castelbuono, Cefalu, Palazzo Adriano  or Santa Flavia de Sicila.  Piazza Bellini in  Palermo was the scene of some sequences for Talented Mister Ripley.

Imagen de Michael Urso

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Life Inside An Artwork

This small Italian town in the Sicilian province of Trapani was first settled by the Saracens in the Middle Ages. After the Second World War, on account of the post-war hardships, the area lost a substantial part of its population as many of its inhabitants emigrated to the New World. Subsequently, the town was totally devastated by an earthquake in 1968. The decision was then taken to start over from scratch, and an inventive project was drawn up to “humanise” the area, for which purpose several famous international artists were called in, names such as Pietro Consagra, Alberto Burri, Mario Schifano, Andrea Cascella, Arnaldo Pomodoro, Mimmo Paladino, Franco Angeli and Leonardo Sciascia. The town soon turned into a huge laboratory of experimental art, prompting artists to create works that ennobled the new urban precinct.

The Top 6 Monuments in Gibellina

It should be noted that the reconstruction of Gibellina arose as part of a major cultural challenge which involved both the need to built habitable dwellings and to do so in an artistic milieu. Today, Gibellina is one huge open-air, modern-architecture museum featuring some brilliant works; and, it is now inhabited once more. Here, then, are the six most stunning areas.

Il Cretto di Burri

Gibellina is a town born of a tragedy, and an earthquake at that, the remains of which are still visible beneath the vast work known as Il Cretto, by Alberto Burri. The artist was reluctant to set his work within the confines of yet another urban complex. Instead, he created a gigantic monument dedicated to the earthquake victims which stretches over the streets and alleyways of the old town. It is a massive concrete structure which hugs the ground and is scored by deep cracks. Its artistic value lies in having physically frozen the historical memory of the land. For its sheer size, Il Cretto is one of the largest artworks in the world.

The “Meeting”

In 1976 Pietro Consagra designed a monument-sculpture known as The Meeting. This large-scale sculpture features smooth curves emerging from two parallel projections. It is a clear example of Brutalist architecture, so in vogue in the seventies. In this case he combined transparent sections with opaque ones, while eschewing any balanced compositional harmony. It now stands between the bus station and the area taken up by bars and other leisure facilities.

The Chiesa Madre

in 1970 Ludovico Quaroni was commissioned to design Gibellina’s parish church on a hilltop. The geometry of the church is novel, not only owing to the layout of the building and its relationship to its surroundings but on account of the language in its architectural forms. The various functional areas are distributed in a box with a 50-metre-square base sub-divided into modules and sub-modules, while the symbolical and geometrical centre of the monument is a great smooth cement sphere bearing reference to the sacred.

The Piazza del Municipio and the Civic Tower

The town square is surrounded by a colonnade designed by Vittorio Gregotti and Giuseppe Samonà, the walls of which were decorated with ceramics by Carla Accardi. Edging the perimeter of the square stand some marvellous white metal sculptures of characters from the work, Oedipus Rex, made by Pietro Consagra, with others by Mimmo Rotella, and the so-called Civic Tower designed by Alessandro Mendini. Four times a day, a blend of sounds with reminiscences of everyday life in the old Gibellina can be heard from this tower.

The Square System

This is actually a matrix of closed architectural squares designed by Franco Purini and Laura Thermes. Enclosed within this System are the Piazza Rivolta del 26 giugno 1937, Piazza Fasci dei Lavoratori, Piazza Monti di Gibellina, Piazza Autonomia Siciliana and Piazza Passo Portella delle Ginestre.

The Civic Museum of Contemporary Art

Gibellina’s contemporary art collection was created from contributions by Italy’s leading artists, and others of international acclaim.

The first to chip in were the Sicilians – Pietro Consagra, Carla Accardi and Emilio Isgrò. Ever since its inauguration in 1980, the Gibellina Museum has been endowed with over 1,800 artworks, notably original paintings, illustrations and sculptures. Most are housed inside the building, but some are dotted about the town streets, where they form a complement to the urban architecture. The bulk of the museum’s exhibition space is taken up by the collection, but there is a room dedicated to Mario Schifano, while another open-air area is given over to artistic and architectural mock-ups.

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Text by ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

Images by Tiberio Frascari, Giulio Nepi, Antonella Profeta

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