The Most Striking Palaces to Visit in Palermo
07 April 2021
Sicily’s capital is well known for its architecture, domes and mosaics depicting Arab, Byzantine and Norman influences. A jewel in Palermo’s crown, Villa Igiea is an Art Nouveau masterpiece and the latest addition to our collection of hotels and resorts across Europe. We can’t wait to welcome you through our doors from June 2021. Until then, read on to spark inspiration for your next escape and discover Palermo’s most striking palaces, guided by our local insider.
In the heart of Kalsa district, overlooking the sea and within the quarter for the richest merchants, was where Francesco Abatellis had built his home in the 15th century. Since 1953, this majestic palace, redesigned by Carlo Scarpa, has housed one of the most important museums in the city. Be sure to see at least three masterpieces: the Triumph of Death, the spectacular 15th-century fresco that may have been the inspiration behind Pablo Picasso’s Guernica; the incredible bust of Eleonora of Aragon, created by Francesco Laurana in 1471; and the Annunciation, by Antonello da Messina, circa 1475, one of the most significant works of the Italian Renaissance. Gaze at it, follow her extended hand and imagine being in Archangel Gabriel’s place announcing the miracle of the impending birth.
Built in the early 1300s, this magnificent palace was originally home to the noble Chiaramonte family. Later, it became the headquarters of the Spanish viceroys, and subsequently a prison and the scene of the most horrific torture, as revealed from the graffiti left on its walls by the prisoners. It took the beauty of modern art to erase the marks of so much suffering. Today, the palace combines Arab, Norman and Catalan styles, and is home to La Vucciria, the famous work painted by Renato Guttuso in 1974. The painting was inspired by the artist’s childhood, born in Bagheria in 1911, when he used to gaze hungrily at the market stalls, which still fill the streets with delicious aromas and vibrant colours today.
Located inside the Favorita Park, just a short walk away from Villa Igiea, is one of the most original and magical buildings in Palermo, the Chinese Palace. A genuine piece of architectural indulgence, it was commissioned in 1799 by Ferdinand I, the “Lazzarone King”, as a hunting lodge and the venue for every other pleasure. The architect, Giuseppe Venanzio Marvuglia, had envisaged it as a synthesis of exotic intimations and classic elements. The real wonder is the interior, with frescoes, decorations and Chinese ideograms, which are combined with Pompeian motifs and blossoming gardens. On the first floor is the King’s sumptuous bedroom with a painted vault, featuring pagodas, peacocks and Chinese Dragon dignitaries, where the objects that were most loved by the owner of the house can be seen.
Valguarnera Gangi Palace
“You’re so much more than a good dancer, you’re a delightful dancer, truly delightful.” Thus declared Claudia Cardinale, alias Angelica, as she dances a waltz in the arms of Burt Lancaster, playing the unforgettable Prince of Salina. For this famous scene from The Leopard, made in 1963, Luchino Visconti chose one of the most beautiful palaces in Palermo, and the most lavish room in the palace, which is a triumph of gold, mirrors and enormous Murano lamps. Prince Pietro Valguarnera, the representative of one of the most noble lineages in Sicilian aristocracy, built this magnificent palace in 1750. It has hosted many important guests, from Vincenzo Bellini to Richard Wagner, and from Auguste Renoir to Edward VII.
You can easily enjoy a day trip to Palermo from our 5-Star Verdura Resort. Located within the grounds of the resort, our new Rocco Forte Private Villas are perfect for larger groups and families. To make a flexible booking please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +39 0925 9980 01.