The Church of San Cataldo

Three red domes immediately call attention to the tiny church of San Cataldo on Piazza Bellini, near the center of Palermo. A pristine example of Arab-Norman architecture, San Cataldo dates from 1160 and has survived into the present-day in a mostly original state.

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Palermo Mysteries

Among Palermo's many qualities is an air of mystery, especially towards dusk. Perhaps it's due to the city's deep and often troubled history, perhaps the unpolished instability of its streets. Bars can disappear from one day to the next, and new graffiti springs up frequently. Battered doors which were locked yesterday are open tonight, revealing strange courtyards. This city would make a perfect setting for a chilling film noir.

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The Ancient Remains of La Cuba

Almost exactly a kilometer outside of the town center, on the road to Monreale, we find the remains of the ancient pleasure palace of the Norman Kings called La Cuba. Built in 1180 for William II, La Cuba was originally the focal of a large garden, surrounded by a man-made lagoon. The pictures which imagine it in its full glory are wondrous, but little remains today apart from a hollow shell.

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The Palazzo dei Normanni

One of the top sights in Palermo is the Norman Palace, on the western extreme of the old city center. A massive complex built in the 11th century, the palace is still used today as the seat of the Sicilian government. Tourists are allowed in, but understandably restricted to a small section.

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The Florentine Fountain of Piazza Pretoria

One of the most photographed objects in Palermo is the giant, snow-white fountain in the Piazza Pretoria, just southeast of the Quattro Canti. The fountain sits in front of City Hall and has become a symbol of governmental corruption. Disgust with Palermo's legendary malfeasance, in addition to the fountain's abundant nudity, are the two reasons that Plaza Pretoria is known among citizens as the Plaza of Shame (Piazza della Vergogna).

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Qanat – A Nighttime Tour of Palermo’s Ancient Canals

The Arab rule of Palermo lasted little more than a century, but constituted a true golden age for the city. Gardens and glorious buildings sprouted up, and Palermo replaced Syracuse as the island's capital. It became the second largest city in Europe, renowned across the continent as a center of learning and for its privileged way of life. Among the many improvements introduced by the Moors was a system of underground canals, or Qanat, that provided the whole city with fresh water from natural springs in the Monreale area.

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After One Month in Palermo

Palermo is the kind of loud, in-your-face city about which it doesn't take long to form strong first impressions. The beauty, noise, trash, history and lively street life don't hide themselves, and I suspect that our initial feelings about the city will not change a lot over the course of the next couple months.

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Casa Zatlò: Furnished Short-Term Apt in Palermo

The hardest part of moving to a new city every three months is finding a suitable apartment. But we really lucked out when planning our stay in Sicily, and discovered Casa Zatlò over the excellent website VisitPalermo.it, with almost no effort. We couldn't be happier with our new temporary home, and can totally recommend it to anyone who wants to stay in something a little homier than a hotel.

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