Palermo: The Cultural Capital of Italy 2018

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Palermo: The Cultural Capital of Italy 2018

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2018 will be an annus mirabilis (miraculous year) for Palermo, the capital of Sicily, as it has been named ‘The Cultural Capital of Italy’ for 2018 and will also be hosting the 12th edition of Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The last few years have been good to the city, in 2015 it was selected by Forbes as the European Capital of Street Food and in 2016 it was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. And the 2018 news of it becoming the Italian Capital of Culture 2018 comes with a hefty grant to be invested in cultural, artistic and tourist boosting activities.

Today, Palermo is a thriving hub that has seen massive development since the 1980’s and is a hot tourist destination, thanks to its huge range of historical attractions, ancient buildings, and dramatic coastlines to explore. Make sure you visit Palermo in 2018 it’s set to be a buzzing year of exciting events! And if you are wine lovers, this is an unmissable destination as Sicily has been enjoying a boom in its winemaking in the last few years.

Here’s a quick lowdown on the what’s what of Palermo.

The name ‘Palermo’ comes from the Greek word ‘Panoremus’, meaning ‘always fit for landing in’. And indeed, the city is undergoing a major redevelopment to make it a must see Euro-Mediterranean Cruising destination.

It is home to the largest opera house in Italy. Built in Palermo in 1897, the Teatro Massimo also features in a famous scene in The Godfather: Part Three.

The sonnet, a popular form of poetry, first originated in Sicily. Whilst William Shakespeare would normally spring to mind, sonnets were in fact invented in the early 13th century by a poet from the Sicilian school of poetry, Giacomo da Lentini. They were made famous worldwide in the following century through works by poets such as Petrarca and Dante Alighieri.

Cave drawings have been found in Palermo and human settlements have been dated as early as 8000 BC. Initially under Roman Control, once the empire started to collapse, Palermo came under Germanic control and then subsequently Arabic rule and finally Christian conquers in the 1000’s.

Palermo is the capital of Sicily which is the largest island in the Mediterranean sea and sits at the bottom of Italy in close proximity to Tunisia and Malta. With a population of 676,000 and a greater metropolitan population of 1.3 million, it serves as the islands cultural and economical centre.

The best things to do in Palermo:

Palermo Monreale Cathedral

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The Moorish influence evident on the exterior combined with a tall renaissance clock tower shows what a melting pot Sicily is.

Capella Palatina

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The Palatine Chapel boasts one of the best preserved examples of Byzantine architecture and artwork in Europe and is dedicated to Saint Peter.

Palazzo dei Normanni

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The Royal Palace or the Palace of the Normans served as the main seat of the Kings of Sicily and stands as one of the oldest royal palaces in Europe, originally created in the 9th century by the Emir of Palermo. The interior is a cool mix of Norman and Moorish and is connected to the Capella Palatina which is a must if you like mosaics.

Ditto for the beautiful Martorana (Cathedral of St. Mary of the Admiral) below:

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Be sure to check out the Manifesta (16th June 2018 – 4th November 2018) a prestigious, internationally acclaimed festival of contemporary art that every two years moves to a new host city. The theme for Manifesta 12 in Palermo is ‘The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence’.

If you want to discover more about this beautiful part of Italy then  why not email us to book a tailor made tour.

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