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Places to see

Catacombe dei Cappuccini (Catacombs of the Capuchins)

The Catacombe dei Cappuccini is definitely for the faint hearted. Situated under the Capuchins Monastery, this 350 year old catacomb was a favourite burial place for Sicilians rich and poor. It was discovered that these catacombs had a preservative that embalmed the dead bodies. As you make your way through the dark and sometimes spooky corridor you will see a number of well preserved mummies. There are of course the scary corpses, with missing body parts, that look like they belong in a horror movie.

An estimated 8,000 people were buried here between the late 1500s and 1920. The last person to be buried here was a 2-year-old girl, Rosalia Lombaro. Her corpse has been preserved intact and she looks so lifelike that she is called the Sleeping Beauty.

Hours »
Tours Mon-Fri 9am-noon and 1-5pm (Closed Holidays)
Address »
Piazza Cappuccini 1
Location »
Capuchins Monastery
Phone »
091-212117
Price »
Admission 1.50€

Civica Galleria d'Arte Moderna Empedocle Restivo

This gallery is a tribute to local artists of the 19th and early20th centuries. Started in 1910 this gallery mainly has on display landscape paintings from this era, most of them painted by artists from Palermo. Apart from this there are works by other recognizable artists such as Corrada Cagli, Carlo Carrà, Gino Severini, Giovanni Boldini, Antonio Mancini, Domenico Morelli, Michele Catti and Onofrio Tomaselli.

Hours »
Tues-Sat 9am-8pm; Sun 9am-1pm
Address »
Via Turati 10
Bus »
101, 102, 103, 106, 108, 124, or 134
Phone »
091-588951
Price »
Admission 3€. Free for ages 17 and under and 66 and over

Museo Internazionale delle Marionette (International Puppet Museum)

Love puppets? Then you must definitely head here for the world’s best collection of puppets, or pupi, as they are known locally. These handcrafted puppets were used in the ancient puppet opera, which was once a very popular local pastime. You will find puppets depicting the exploits of William the Bad, the legends of Charlemagne and the swashbuckling Saracen pirates. Most puppets are centuries old and many were donated from foreign countries, including many countries in Europe, India and the Far East.

Hours »
Mon-Fri 9am-1pm and 4-7pm; Sat 9am-1pm; Sun 10am-1pm
Address »
Via Butera 1
Phone »
091-328060
Price »
Admission 3€ adults, 1.50€ children under 12

Chiesa S. Maria della Catena

This 15th century Gothic-Catalan church is situated in the old harbour district. Designed and executed by Matteo Carnelivari between 1502 and 1534 this church has a beautiful façade that is best enjoyed during sunset. The huge portico with three massive arches and the fight of stairs that lead you to the church itself makes it look gigantic. The triple arch is a Renaissance feature that fuses well with the Gothic design. Vincenzo Gagini, one of Sicily’s most important artists, sculpted the bas-relief beneath the portico. It is just as beautiful inside the church with vaulted naves, artistic windows and Renaissance pillars.

Hours »
Mon-Fri 9am-1pm; Sun 11am-1pm (Closed Sat and Aug)
Address »
Piazza delle Dogane (Corso Vittorio Emanuele)
Phone »
091-6077111
Price »
Free admission

Chiesa di San Francesco d'Assisi

Built in memory of St Francis of Assisi between 1255 and 1277 this beautiful church in the Kalsa district managed to survive the 1943 bombings and the 1968 earthquake. The church is distinct due to its shallow porch and crisscross ornamentation. Of particular importance are the exquisite rose window and the elaborate portal. When restoration took place after the Second World War they decided to stick to its original medieval style instead of the later neoclassical features.

Hours »
Mon-Sat 7am-12:30pm and 4:30-6pm
Address »
Piazza di San Francesco d'Assisi, off Via Paternostro
Phone »
091-6162819
Price »
Free admission

La Cuba

The setting for Boccaccio’s Decameron, La Cuba has no connection with the country but is a local derivative of Ka’aba, the holy Islamic monument. La Cuba was built in King William II’s summer palace in 1180. It is a tall building and its rectangular plan gave it its name. It is a fabulous example of Fatimid architecture.

Inside is a huge hall with a ceiling, which was as high as the building itself, and was covered by a dome. After being owned by royalty La Cuba has been put to use in many different ways by its private owners. It was a leper colony. The Bourbons made it cavalry barracks. It is still part of the military barracks. Visitors are allowed to visit it but can’t photograph its military grounds.

Hours »
Mon-Sat 9am-1pm and 3-7pm; Sun 9am-1pm
Address »
Corso Calatafimi 100
Phone »
091-590299
Price »
FAdmission 2€