Palermo is a hybrid, multi-faceted city. Its real soul, however, are its many markets: crowded, noisy, lit day and night, overwhelmed with Mediterranean smells and goods displayed everywhere. Although the Vucciria has lost some of its charm, you must visit Ballarò to find the atmosphere of the Kasbah. Here spices are still sold in bulk and behind the stalls of fruit and vegetables you can still meet the African Sicilians. The market takes up every corner, flanks the entrances of baroque churches and it is overlooked by the Arabic domes. Here Palermo reveals itself in all its hybrid identity, that makes the city Phoenician, Greek, Byzantine, Islamic, Norman, Baroque and Art Nouveau.
The first part of Palermo, which in Greek means “an entire port”, stretches under our eyes with its Art Nouveau buildings of Via Ruggiero Settimo and via Libertà towards the nineteenth-century Teatro Massimo.
Our B&B, pretty and neat is housed in a noble eighteenth century building, ideally placed to get in a short walk to the major attractions of the city, but its greatest value, an added value in places like Palermo, is the reserved parking! For two days we forgot we arrived here by car and we hoof it far and wide with our patient Arturo following us everywhere.
At the B&B Carella, we are welcomed by Mauro, one of the guys who decided to transform this apartment within this historic building in a quiet and strategic place for those who wish to visit Palermo without problems and on foot. Since the rooms are all available, he lets us choose the one we like the most of the five rooms that take their names from the key elements of Sicily: Vulcano, Mare, Nebrodi, Tempio and Agrumi. We choose Mare, by the light colors of the crystalline water surrounding the island and the poster bed. In addition, the room is very large and comfortable even for our Arturo.
Once settled, we start discovering Palermo, starting from Piazza Verdi where the Teatro Massimo, the largest Italian opera theater, stands in all its glory. Opposite the entrance, our attention is caught by two kiosks once used for the sales of drinks, now for tobacco and newspapers. They are both designed by the architect Ernesto Basile and built during the Art Deco period: the one with an octagonal dome is called Rebaudo, while the other one is a clear homage to Islamic art and is called Vicari.
Then we take via Maqueda that, at the intersection with the Cassaro, the main street of Palermo, forms Piazza Vigliena known as the I Quattro Canti. Asking for information we will soon learn that here in Palermo streets and squares have at least two names, because they have both the “official” name introduced with the regulation of nomenclature and house numbers in 1802, and the previous one, referring to buildings or churches easily recognizable to orient oneself.
Via Camillo Benso Cavour 95
Info: +39 329 4080657
(Traduzione di Monia Saponaro)