Monday, November 8, 2010

Sources on Palermo

Periodically, as I work on my book and publish to the blog, I will post about some excellent sources on Palermo.  Sadly, many of these publications have not been translated into English and require a decent level of Italian to understand.
  1. Palermo: guida della città e dei dintorni (Palermo: guide of the city and its surroundings)
    Contrary to many, this book is not out of print, at least in Palermo and parts of Sicily.  It is one of the earliest and most comprehensive guides to the city, and you will see many a Sicilian tourist carrying the book around as they make their way around the city.  It contains information on monuments, churches, sites in Palermo and its surroundings.  It is relatively inexpensive at about 9.00 euro.

    If you wish to purchase a copy of the book, consider contacting a bookstore in Palermo.  If you are in the city itself, you will often see copies of the book (you cannot miss it with its bright red/orange color) for sale in most bookstores.  This bookstore in Palermo sold me copies online (I also purchased a copy of the book in a Feltrinelli store in Palermo) and would probably do the same for you: Libreria Europa,

  2. Palermo città d'arte: guida illustrata ai monumenti di Palermo e Monreale
    Much larger and with color photos (and more expensive at 38 euro) is this expansive tome on the city of Palermo.  It is written in the same vain as Bellafiore's book but would certainly be more of a struggle to carry around with you through the city at over 540 pages.  It is published by Kalos (now in its 2nd edition) and contains a section on the history of Palermo as well as an index of hundreds of sites, places and monuments in Palermo and Monreale along with an index of places, artists and a decent bibliography.  While Bellafiore's book is illustrated with rough drawings and sketches, this book makes use of color photography and is especially useful for those who are not or have not been to Palermo.

    This book is readily available from many online Italian booksellers, such as

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fontana Pretoria

Fontana Pretoria, Palermo (click to enlarge)
The Fontana Pretoria (pictured here) is located in the Piazza della Pretoria (see below), which sits on the corner of Via Maqueda and Via Vittorio Emmanuele in Palermo.  The fountain was originally destined for the Florentine villa of Don Pietro di Toledo but was instead sold to the Senate of Palermo in 1573 and assembled in Palermo in 1574.  The idea of the fountain (and the piazza) was to emulate what Michelangelo had done for the Campidoglio in Rome as the Senate of Palermo resides in the square where the fountain sits.

Comically, the square is known to many palermitani as the Piazza della Vergogna (Piazza of Shame) because of the many nude statutes that surround the fountain (many surmise that the sale of the fountain to Palermo was to avoid the "scandalous nature" of so many nude statues).  The sculptures were dismantled into 644 pieces and transported to Palermo where Camillo Camilliani, the son of the Francesco Camilliani (who designed the fountain), reassembled it, completing the re-assembly in 1584.

This fountain is one of the few works from the Renaissance in Palermo.

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