The Teatro Massimo Vittorio Emanuele, in Piazza Verdi, is the largest opera house in all of Italy. It is the third largest in Europe. This is the theater that one sees at the end of the movie “The Godfather — Part 3.” A short distance away is the Quattro Canti, or Piazza Vigliena. This piazza is considered the heart of the city. It is an octagonal piazza, crossed by the two main streets of the city — Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele. A few steps away from the Quattro Canti lies Piazza Pretoria or, as it’s sometimes called, “Piazza della Vergogna” (“Square of Shame”), because of the fountain that was installed in the middle of the square, in 1573.While it caused quite a bit of controversy, when first erected in the piazza, due to its many naked statues, the fountain is a delight to behold. It is a multi-leveled artistic gem, with sculptures depicting mythological creatures, allegorical characters, and river allegories. A small road, at the back of the piazza, leads to two incredibly lovely churches — San Cataldo and The Martorana, or Santa Maria dell Ammiraglio. Both churches sit alongside Piazza Bellini. The larger of the two is the Martorana. It dates back to, at least, 1151.The second church, San Cataldo, is much smaller, and almost bare by comparison, but is still quite beautiful. In the 18th century, the church was actually used as a post office, and the effects of this are still sadly visible. We continued on our way, exploring the area north of the piazza, heading towards the sea.
Next up: More of Day 3, with a visit to the Antonio Pasqualino International Puppet Museum, the Palazzo Ajutamicristo, and the Botanical Gardens!
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.