As Susan and I left the Zisa area of the city, and headed back towards the center of town, we decided to meander our way back — meaning, we had no idea where we were, but we did know the general direction in which we had to travel, so we plowed on, full steam ahead. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves standing in front of one of Palermo’s main landmarks: The Porta Nuova, or the New Gate. The Porta Nuova is located at the start of the most ancient street in the city, the Cassaro. It is beautiful!The first gate was built on this spot in the 15th century. It was rebuilt in 1583, to honor Charles V’s victory over Tunis, and his visit to the city. In 1667, a fire destroyed the structure, but it was rebuilt in 1669, and that is the monument that we see today.Just as the hour of Pranza arrived (lunch time), we were delighted to find that we had made our way to the Mercato di Ballaro — one of Palermo’s most famous street markets. You can buy anything here. From food to take home and cook, to street food, and even table service meals — it is all available in this thriving section of the city. At one point in the afternoon, we came upon the Chiesa del Gesu, also known as Casa Professa, and without knowing a thing about it, decided to go in. There is a small admittance fee, but it is well worth it, as this is an incredibly beautiful church. It is actually one of the most important Baroque churches in all of Sicily. The admission ticket also allows you to visit the Oratory and the Crypt, a museum, and the Sacristy. The Oratory alone would have been worth the price of admission. It is stunning. It is full of stucco works by Procopio Serpotta, the last of a line of a family of artists, known for their work in Palermo.
Next up: More from Palermo, including a visit to the Botanical Gardens, and the beautiful Cathedral of Palermo!
Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations which may appear.