Palermo – Day 4 – Part 3 – Unusual Burial Places

We continued to explore the space under the Chiesa dei Cocchieri.

Directly across the street from the Chiesa dei Cocchieri, you will find the Giardino dei Giusti.  The garden stands on the site where the palazzo of the noblewoman, Francesca Fulci, once stood.  The palazzo was completely destroyed by bombings in 1943, and in the year 2000, it was decided to turn the space into a public garden, honoring all those who risked their own lives saving Jews, during the years of the Holocaust.

A plaque made out of tiles, on the wall of the garden, reminds us that “You can always say ‘yes’ or ‘no.'”  Those honored here chose to say ‘no’ to the injustices they saw around them.

A few other plaques honor individuals who fought against the persecution of the Jewish people, not only in Italy, but all over the world.

At this point, it was time to head over to the Catacombe dei Cappuccini.  While I feel this is something that should not be missed, when in Palermo, I do understand it might not be for all tastes.  If you do visit the catacombs, you will be walking in underground spaces, lined with real mummified bodies.  When the original Capuchin Cemetery became full, the monks began to excavate crypts beneath it.  At the time, it was their practice to mummify the dead, who were then preserved wearing their everyday clothing and, in some cases, with a few of their personal belongings.  It soon became a status symbol to be buried in the catacombs, and before long, the wealthy and important citizens of the city were specifying in their wills what clothes they wished to be dressed in, and how they wanted to be positioned.  Today, the catacombs hold approximately 8,000 corpses.  Among those buried here are the prince of Tunis, Filippo d’Austria, the president of the kingdom, Giuseppe Grimau, and many others, including a young child, Rosalia Lombardo, who died right before her second birthday, from pneumonia, which she came down with after catching the Spanish flu.  Rosalia is sometimes referred to as the “Sleeping Beauty,” as it seems as if the child is simply in a deep state of sleep, when you view her remains today.


Next up: We finish up our last day in Palermo with more sights, as well as another visit to the market behind us for dinner!


Note: This blog is written in English and Spanish, and the author takes no responsibility for the quality of any other translations that may appear.  If you have enjoyed this post, please, check out our archives for more posts from Palermo, as well as other Italian destinations.  Grazie!


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