Palermo has magnetic energy that will pull you into its medieval alleys and gripping history. Named by the Greeks, Palermo translates as "all-port." Our tour begins at the Catacombs of the Capuchin Friars, where more than 8,000 mummified bodies are in varying states of preservation. Other stops include Zisa Castle, Quattro Cantu, Piazza Pretoria and Church of La Martorana. We will make our way through the notoriously welcoming streets of Sicily's capital as our tour guide acquaints you with its geography and multi-layered history. Sicily became part of the Roman Empire in 1194 but did not become part of the Kingdom of Italy until which date?
"Whoever waits for time to pass loses time." - Sicilian Proverb
Founded by Phoenicians who were forced out of Eastern Sicily by the Greeks, Palermo boasts its multi-cultural influences including Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal, Byzantine and Arab. Not a part of the Kingdom of Italy until 1861, Palermo was once the hub of the Muslim world. The current streets of Palermo possess an extraordinary array of medieval architecture. The highlight of our tour is the incomparable Catacombs of the Capuchin Friars. In the 16th century, the Capuchin Monastery outgrew its cemetery so the monks began to excavate crypts below the building. Religious men were not the only ones buried here; if a family had enough money, they could bury loved ones here...and they did! Our tour guide will explain the history, the preservation process and the medieval culture that is revealed in the spectacular clothing. We will stop at the Zisa Castle, a marvelous example of Arab architecture and hunting lodge for the Norman kings. We will meander through the neighborhoods to visit the outdoor areas of the Quattro Cantu and the Piazza Pretoria: a beautiful Renaissance fountain originally built for a villa near Florence. Finally we will visit the dramatic Church of La Martorana where 12th century architectural styles clash in dazzling ways.