Returning on Corso Vittorio Emanuele to reach the Cathedral, magnificent example of a fortified church, the Church of the Santissimo Salvatore is worth a stop, as it finally reopened after years of restoration. It now houses a music hall among the Baroque altars of the 1600 and the stuccos by Serpotta that overlook its unusual decagonal plan. The master Giacomo Serpotta and his unmistakable hand are the absolute protagonists of the triumph of the putti and Virtues of the oratories of Santa Cita and San Domenico. In the oratory of the Rosario di Santa Cita the artist, who signed his work with a lizard, “serpuzza” or with the shell, symbol of St. James, gave new forms, for its time, to the Mysteries of the Rosary, to the battle Lepanto and to the Virtues, represented in allegory. In the oratory of the Rosario di San Domenico, the works of local artists, in addition to Genoese and Flemish including Anton Van Dyck who painted the altarpiece, are enhanced by the profusion of laces and tiaras worn by the statues modeled on wooden structures and metal wires with stuccos and marble powder, by a a technique invented by Serpotta.
If, like us, you are wandering in Palermo on a Sunday morning, do not miss a trip to the curious antiques market held around the Giardino Garibaldi in piazza Marina. The Garden was designed by Filippo Basile in the second half of the 1800 and is shaded by centuries-old giant Ficus magnolioides. Not far away is the Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli, known as La Gancia, which houses an organ from 1500, the oldest in the city. We are in the district called Kalsa district, the heart of Palermo, between buildings destroyed by American bombs during the last world war and wonders like Palazzo Abatellis, one of the most beautiful museums in the world which houses the enigmatic smile of the Annunciation by Antonello da Messina.
Of course we must visit it, but we have to find an accommodation for Arturo who cannot come with us to the museum. So we ask the guardians to host him in the hall of the box office: Arturo quiet and relaxed will wait for us to come back. And then the only problem will be to have him back as he has since become one of the attractions of Palazzo Abatellis!
We step through the beautiful gate and cross the courtyard, from room to room we are led in the presence of the rich history of Palermo and western Sicily between the 12th and the 18th centuries. You cannot remain emotionless before the imposing “Triumph of the Death”, the fresco from 1400 which was torn off the courtyard of Palazzo Sclafari in 1944, representing the eternal struggle between life and death with a kind of snapshot of the moment when men are hit by fatal darts
At this point we are starving and we are tired too. We get to Torremuzza which is only a short walk from Porta dei Greci, that connects Kalsa to the sea. Our snack is a salad, “vastasa” which in Sicilian means no decency because it can be prepared with many different ingredients. Ours was with tomatoes, olives and anchovies to accompany kebabs of grilled fish and a slice of swordfish. But Palermo is especially street food and here one of the street food par excellence are the “babbaluci”, snails that are first simmered with salt for 5 minutes and then dipped in copper pots with frying oil and a sauté of garlic and parsley. Right on the corner between Via Torremuzza and Piazza Kalsa is the workshop of Antonino Biondo, known by everyone in town as Chiluzzu: here they have been selling snails since 1944 and today, every day, they prepare 100 kilos of babbaluci.
Trattoria Da Salvo
Via Torremuzza 28
Info: +39 334 3351329
Da Chiluzzu La Bottega di Antonio Biondo
Piazza Kalsa angolo via Torremuzza
(Traduzione di Monia Saponaro)