Hey “Genius”, there’s a snake biting your nipple.
An aging monarch seated on his throne and holding a snake, the Genius of Palermo is the mysterious emblem of the city. No one knows where it originated or what it truly symbolizes, but it has come to epitomize the city itself.
The snake is a symbol of knowledge, and many speculate that it represents Palermo’s tumultuous relationships with foreign powers. In other words, the knowledge and technological advances brought by the city’s numerous invaders came with a price. The snake is the foreign presence which eats from “Palermo” while also imbuing it with knowledge.
Representations of the Genius appear eight times within Palermo: six sculptures and two paintings. So one day when we were bored, we went out “genius hunting”, and found five of them:
Which were we missing?
The Genius of Villagrazia – Found at the entrance to Villa Fernandez, in the peripheral neighborhood of Villagrazia. Genius-hunting is very important, but not worth an hour walk!
The Genius of the Mosaic – Found above the entrance to the Palatine Chapel, in the Palazzo Normanni. If only we’d have known when we visited. Genius-hunting is very important, but not worth another €9!
The Genius of the Apoteosi di Palermo – Found on the ceiling fresco of the ballroom in Palazzo Isnello, in the Piazza Borsa. Frustratingly close to our apartment, but closed. Genius-hunting is very important, but not worth breaking and entering!
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