The sculptor Giacomo Serpotta was born in Palermo in 1652, and died there as well, eighty years later. Though he never left Sicily, he achieved a great deal of fame throughout the world for his incredible Rococo stucco pieces. The Oratory of Santa Cita, which he worked on for nearly half his life, is his masterpiece.
The Oratory of San Lorenzo was also executed by Serpotta and blew our minds when we visited, but Santa Cita’s is even more detailed and ornate. The master sculptor was not definitely lacking in imagination, and he indulged every whim while designing this chapel. The plasterwork occupies every inch of the wall and is endlessly entertaining. Strange bat creatures, mischievous cherubs, disembodied torsos, angels polishing armor, scenes from the New Testament and a gorgeous tribute to the Battle of Lepanto are just pieces of a rich and fluid arrangement that would take hours to exhaustively document.
In order to reach the Santa Cita, we walked through the war-torn Vucciria neighborhood, with its dilapidated buildings neglected for decades and ridiculous trash piles on every corner. Escaping from the noisy, messy dreck of Palermo into a room of such pristine, pearl-white beauty was a pleasant shock to the system.