Palermo Parte Due

In addition to the Manifesta sites a few things worth noting. Besides scores of beautiful Baroque churches and oratorios which you can find in any guidebook:

1. Palazzo Abatellis which houses the excellent Carlo Scarpa intervention into the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia.  Like his museum in Verona, the Castelvecchio, Scarpa takes the essence of ancient things and makes them new again.  Too bad he is not alive today to make museum architects understand that they do not have to show off.


2. The Marionette Museum is splendid.  The most complete number of examples I have ever seen from around the world.  I did not have a chance to attend a show but I feel sure they are expert.


3. The Palermo Markets.  I thought Santa Monica and the Embarcadero were good. But the Capo and the Ballero markets in Palermo put them in their place. I did not have a kitchen, but if you stay at the new Planeta Palermo just opened, you can have a kitchen. Otherwise, I suggest staying in the center at the BB22, extremely well located with very nice staff.


4. Dinner at Bisso Bistrot. Very reasonable, good, fun, centrally located.   No reservations.


5.  The Teatro Massimo.  The third largest opera house after Paris and Vienna.  After the Sahel opera it was hard to adjust to a Fernand Botero inspired circus themed Elisir d’Amore—which I also had seen recently in Vienna in a much frothier, saccharine production.  Nevertheless no matter how you present it, this story of a faux magic potion which unites the lovers in the end really is showing its vintage.  In the Teatro, there is little or no a/c so the ladies bring fans.  I loved this, and the little red lights in each box (no actual raked seating, and a flat orchestra).  After the little theaters of Orvieto and Spoleto, (I have only seen Fenice and Scala spaces not any operas) I am more convinced than ever that the future of opera, so endangered at home is in the smalls.  When you exit onto the red carpeted stairs, there is no way not to recall The Godfather and for that alone it is worth the price of admission.