Mondello, Favorita park and Santa Rosalia

Nested in a beautiful gulf, between Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino, on the edge of the Favorita Park is the favorite beach of Palermo. In ancient times, the area was invaded by a swamp, named “Il Pantano”  which was reclaimed in the century by Prince Francesco Lanza di Scalea, whereby Mondello became what is now a famous seaside resort with its colorful and sunny beaches, the sea by Caribbean colors, its coastline embellished with many beautiful villas in liberty style. The village is built around the main square placed at the end of the promenade dotted with colorful stalls and hundreds of bars, bistros and restaurants.

 

On the edge of the square with the fountain shaped as a  two-tailed mermaid, sculpted by Nino Geraci, the ancient fifteenth-century watchtower also know as Prickly Pear Tower, recently restored, reminds the ancient marine origin of the village. Do not forget to visit the Charleston ancient bathing establishment inaugurated in 1913, on whose terraces in liberty style, director Michael Cimino in 1987 turned the film "The Sicilian" with Christopher Lambert in the role of the bandit Giuliano.

 

The beach resort of Mondello is connected to the city by two long avenues, named Hercules and Diana, that intersect parallel the main green lung of Palermo, the Royal Favorita Park, which stretches from the foot of Monte Pellegrino to the neighborhood of Pallavicino. The park was built by Ferdinand III of Bourbon in 1799 as a hunting lodge and is now part of the Regional Natural Reserve "Monte Pellegrino", spread over 1020 acres. Ferdinand built in the Park, a curious oriental style building called Chinese Mansion, designed by Marvuglia, recently refurbished. Next to the building there is another building in the same style that houses the Ethnographic Museum G. Pitré. Inside the park also Villa Niscemi, a palace with three floors decorated with rich furnishings and works of art, now home of the mayor of Palermo, the racecourse trot, the stadium and other sports facilities.

 

At the top of Mount Pellegrino  the shrine dedicated to the patron saint Rosalia of Palermo, built in the seventeenth in a crevice of the rock the remains of the saint were found. According to Catholic tradition, a rich young nobleman named Rosalia Sinibaldi left his family to lead a life of prayer and meditation, taking refuge in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, where she died in 1165. In 1624, while a plague raged  in Palermo, it is said that Rosalia appeared in a dream to a hunter, pointing to the place where he found her remains. The bones were carried in procession and the plague ceased. Rosalia was proclaimed patroness of Palermo and the sanctuary was was dedicated to her. Palermiyans are very devoted to Santa Rosalia and they celebrate her every year on two occasions: September 4th day of the death of the saint, it is tradition to walk the ancient road leading to the sanctuary (the "acchianata").

 

Between 11 and 15 July Palermo celebrates the feast dedicated to the famous Santa, an event established way back in 1686, which includes a full calendar of events, both religious and secular, and culminates on the evening of July 14, in a procession in which the statue of the saint is carried in a triumphal chariot, from the Royal Palace along the ancient "Cassaro” (Corso Vittorio Emanuele) until the sea. The chariot stops in front of the cathedral and at the “Quattro Canti”  where it is tradition that the mayor of the city give a floral tribute to the Saint uttering the words "Viva Palermo e  Santa Rosalia." As soon as the chariot arrives at the port the fascinating fireworks show  begins taking place on the waterfront and lasting to late night.

 

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