Palermo, Italy

Palermo is the capital of Sicily, the island of the tip of the Italian's peninsula's toe. The feeling and temperatures are clearly Mediterranean and if you tour the entire island you will see some of Italy's most classic architecture.

The population of Palermo is 730,000 people, about the size of San Francisco. It is a big, bustling city and, unlike some Italian cities, the markets in Palermo are open every day. The main festivals in Palermo are the U Festinu for Palermo's patron saint, Santa Rosalia, which takes place July 10th through July 15th, and the pilgrimage to the grotto of Saint Rosalia, Which takes place September 4th.

Sicily and Palermo are also very well known for being the home of the Mafia. The Mafia was founded in Sicily. By the late 1800's the Mafia had become a devastating criminal organization making most of its money off of drug trafficking that spreads around the world. The word Mafia actually means "hostility to the law" and though much of the life in Sicily is influenced by the criminal activities of this group, tourists are rarely the victims of the Mafia.

Palermo is situated in a amphitheater that is mother nature's creation. It is a mish- mash of cultures from Asia to Europe. The architecture varies from Arabic to Art Nouveau to Baroque. Some of Palermo's major attractions are the Gesł, the Duomo, the Villa Giulia, and the Museo Archeologico Regionale. Just outside of town is Monreale, a great church.

The Gesł of Palermo is open year round. It is located on Piazza Casa Professa. This church was very important during the Baroque period. The Gesł is also referred to as the church of the Casa Professa. Sicily's oldest Jesuit church, it was greatly restored after World War II.

The Duomo of Palermo is located on Via Vittorio Emanule. It is open every day and accommodates wheelchair guests. The Duomo of Palermo was created in 1184 by the Archbishop of Palermo in a Byzantine style The Duomo of Palermo is fairly modest from its exterior but is worth a visit because it contains the remains of Sicilian royalty including Emperor Frederick and his father, Henry VI.

The Villa Giulia is open every day of the year and has wheelchair facilities. It's neighboring property is the Orto Botanico. It and the Orto Botanico are on Via Abramo Lincoln. The Orto Botanico is open every day of the year but public holidays and is only open in the mornings on weekends. Like the villa Giulia it has wheel chair services. The Villa Giulia was set up in the 18th century. It is a garden with many tropical plants. In the Orto Botanico there are many tropical plants. In the Dufourny's neoclassical Gymnasium, you may study the various plants.

Museo Archeologico Regionale is Sicily's most important museum. It houses such items as sculpture, artifacts including terra-cottas, jewelry, and weapons. This collection was assembled from Phoenicia, Greece, and Rome.

Another major site in the Palermo area is Monreale. It's just a few miles out of Palermo. This magnificent church was founded in 1172 by King William II of Normandy. The Monreale was used as a burial grounds. William II and William I are both buried here.

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