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province of Palermo map


Palermo, from the Latin "Panormus" is situated on the edge of the Conca d'Oro (Golden Conch Shell), a beautiful and fertile plain. An ancient Phoenician community founded between the 8th and 6th cent. B.C., it later became a Carthaginian military base and was conquered by the Romans in 254 B.C.-253 B.C. Palermo was under Byzantine rule from A.D. 535 to A.D. 831, when it fell to the Arabs, who held it until 1072. The city's prosperity dates from the Arab domination and continued when, under the Normans, it served (1072-1194) as the capital of the kingdom of Sicily. Under King Roger II (1130-54) and later under Emperor Frederick II (1220-50), Palermo attained its main artistic, cultural, and commercial flowering. The French Angevin dynasty transferred the capital to Naples; its misrule led to the Sicilian Vespers insurrection (1282), which began in Palermo.

The city is rich in works of art; Byzantine, Arab, and Norman influence are blended in many buildings. Points of interest include the Arab-Norman Palatine Chapel (1130-40), located in the large palace of the Normans (today also the seat of the Sicilian parliament); the cathedral (founded in the late 12th cent.), which contains the tombs of Frederick II and other rulers; the Church of St. John of the Hermits (1132); the Palazzo Abbatellis (15th cent.), which houses the National Gallery of Sicily; the Gothic Palazzo Chiaramonte (1307); and the Capuchin catacombs.



This small Madonite center was founded in 1623 by Pietro Celestri, Marquis of Santa Croce, in the Lalia fief, near an ancient Muslim hamlet which no longer exists. In the early years of the 19th century, it passed from the Santa Croce family which had died out, to the Princes of Sant'Elia. Very interesting is the Gurfa caves nearby, majestic rock architecture of uncertain origin. You should also visit the Cuba Araba, The Mother Church and St. Anne.
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The original nucleus of the town was built in 1603 by Don Pietro Alimena, a native of Cosenza. The town grew under Don Antonio Alimena from 1628. Of interest is the Mother Church (1724).
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The Aliminusa fief was purchased in 1625 by Gregorio Bruno, who 10 years later founded a village here then called Sant' Anna. Of interest is the Baglio baronale and St. Anne's Church.
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Founded directly above a pre-existing settlement, the center dates from the early 17th century. The town developed, until the mid-1800s in a comb-like pattern at right angles to the main axis, taking as its point of departure the entrance to the noble residence of "Palazzo Beccadelli". This enclosed a small church dedicated to "Madonna di Loreto". Both the church and the palace are located on a cliff with a wide view over the coast and the sea. The Sanctuary becomes a pilgrim centre on the 8th September.
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This was a residence and hunting ground of the kings of Sicily, so it was called a park until 1930. In 1307, Frederick of Aragon gave the park and the palace to the Cistercians, who transformed it into a convent, called the Convento di Santa Maria d'Altofonte, because of the abundance of springs in the upper part of the village (Altofonte = high spring). Of interest is the Palazzo del Parco and the Mother Church "Santa Maria d'Altofonte", built in 1618, incorporating the original marble high altar and a bas-relief with the Madonna di Altofonte (1328), The "Sacra Famiglia".
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In the nineteenth century, Bagheria, a town just east of Palermo, was still the country retreat of the aristocracy, and a number of mansions and villas remain. An exception is Villa Palagonia, conveniently located in the town proper. Built in 1705 by the Prince of Palagonia, the villa was later expanded and restored. The 62 stone sculptures that embellish the villa depict mythological monsters and whimsical creatures worth seeing if your schedule allows. The figures might not be particularly exceptional today, but for the era of their construction they were a sight to behold. Of interest is also Villa Butera with wax figures of monks, and the Palazzo Inguaggiato.
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Its origins go back to the Arab hamlet Busakuin or Busekuin. From 1183 to 1778 it was a fief of the Archbishops of Monreale, after which it passed to the royal domain. Of interest is the Museo Civico and the Abbazia di Santa Maria del Bosco di Calatamauro (16th and 17th c.)
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One of the smallest municipality of the Madonie, a ward of Petralia Soprana until 1972. Destination of many pilgrimages for the presence of the Sancuary of the Madonna dell'Olio. Of interest is the "Ponte a tre Archi", belonging to the romantic period.
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The town has ancient origins. The name, which is derived from caccabe (horse-heads), may have been given to the Carthaginians who took refuge here after their defeat at Himera in 480 BC. The Arabs promoted its growth in the 9th century, and the Normans built the castle that made it one of the major strategic points in Sicily. It later became a fief of the Chiaramonte family (14th century), the Cabreras (1420-1480), the Henriquez (17th century) and the Despuches. Its greatest attraction is the Castle, a large 12th-century fortress in a spectacular location overlooking the scenic San Leonardo River Valley far below. This was a feudal castle built by a Norman knight during the twelfth century, probably upon an older Saracen fortress, and modified slightly in the successive centuries. Of interest is also the Church of Saint George near the castle(1090), the "Annunziata", and the "San Benedetto alla Badia" considered the most beautiful church of Caccamo with its floor of majolica tiles with the design of Nicolò Sarzana (18th century).
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The name of Campofelice indicates the fertility of the soil. The town was founded in 1699 by Gaspare la Grutta in the vicinity of the medieval hamlet. Of interest is the 14th c. ruins of the Roccella Tower and the Mother Church.
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Castelbuono (literally "good castle") is a charming locality in an attractive wooded location, with vestiges of medieval architecture. It boasts a castle once owned by the Ventimiglia family, feudal lords of several towns in the area.
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Developed during the 18th century at the foot of a rock where can be found the ruins of the castle thanks to the concession of the Prince of Carini. Of interest is the Arabic Thermal Baths and the Mother Church.
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Cefalù is a medieval town built on the site of an ancient Sicanian and Greek settlement. Its name derives from the Greek word for a cape. It is a commercial and fishing center and a seaside resort. Formerly known as Cephaloedium, probably founded as an outpost of the Greek city of Himera and first appeared in history about 395 BC as an ally of the Carthaginian leader Himilco. It made an alliance with Carthage in 396 B.C. The town was later taken by the Arabs (mid-9th cent. A.D.) and the Normans (11th cent.). Its famous cathedral, started in 1131 by King Roger II, is one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Sicily. The floor plan and artistic style, typical of those of many cathedrals built in Northern Europe during the same period, differ somewhat from the simple Romanesque lines of Monreale's cathedral, especially when viewed from the outside. The church was one of the first Sicilian cathedrals built on the Western model, with a long nave and distinct transept. This indicates an influence more Norman than Byzantine or Arab, though the icon of Christ in the apse leaves no doubt about the Eastern (Orthodox) tradition still very much alive in western Sicily at the time the church was built. Of interest is also the lavatoio (lavandai), a medieval wash house fed by freshwater springs, and the Osteria Magna (Great Guesthouse), where King Roger stayed during his visits to Cefalù.
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The old "Tavernanuova", belonged to the Ventimiglia of Collesano family till 1453 and later, for about two centuries, to the Bardi family. One of the oldest buildings of Cerda is the Baronial Palace. Of interest is also the Cathedral Church placed at the end of the main square and built between the XVI and XVII centuries. A special historic event is bound to this small town: the Targa Florio, the most ancient motor-race all over the world, which has run since 1906.
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Of medieval origins, it was founded in 1320 on the ruins of a previous country-house. For a long time it has been under domination of the Sclafani family, then of the Colonna family until 1812. Of interest is the St. Caterina's Church (XVI century), the Mother Church.
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Ciminna, probably an Arabic hamlet of Hasù, rose at the foot of a castle under the Norman domination. In the XVI century it was raised to ducky by the feudal domination of the Ventimiglia and such it remained also under the Griffeo princes of Partanna who used it as their lasting residence. Of interest is the Mother Church, the church of St. Domenico, with a statue by Gagini.
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Under the Arabs, it may have been the site of a hamlet. In 1383, it became a fief of the Benedictine monks of San Martino delle Scale, who at the beginning of the 17th century, built a court here, which was the nucleus of the modern town. The court, with two sight-towers, Torre Pozzillo and Mulinazzo, stands at the end of the long main thoroughfare. Also interesting is the Mother Church, built between 1616 and 1680 and the Church of Sacramento (18th century).
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Collesano rose in the 12th century and was founded by the Normans who erected a typical feudal castle. In the 13th century it was possession of Lords of Ventimiglia; then it came to Moncada and Alvarez families who changed only a little part of original town-planning. Of interest is the Mother Church (15th century), the Church of St. Maria la Vecchia.
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The name Qurliyun is found in Arab sources of the 9th century AD; the city was probably an earlier Byzantine foundation. In 1237 Frederick II brought in Lombard settlers led by Ottone di Camerana. The town was deeply involved in the War of the Sicilian Vespers in 1280. Made a military centre by the Hohenstaufen rulers of Sicily from the 10th century, it later passed under Spanish rule. Corleone took an active part in the anti-Bourbon revolutions of 1820 and 1848. Of interest is the Mother Church, the Church of Santa Rosalia and the Church of St. Andrea that according to tradition was built on the ruins of an old mosque. Also interesting the ruins of the Torre Saracena (Saracen Tower) called "Soprano Castle.
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Small town whose centre was built in the 14th century around the Castle of Ventimiglia. Of interest is the Church of St. Nicola with the Tower of the Ventimiglia, the Church of St. Maria degli Angeli, a typical baroque building, the Mocciaro Palace (19th century) and the Bongiorno-Li Destri Palace (18th century).
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Conquered by the Muslims in 840 A.D., it became a county of the Ventimiglia family in 1072. In 1438, it turned into the first marquisate in Sicily. Of interest is the Church of St. Anna, restored in 1311 by Francesco Ventimiglia, the Church of St. Stefano with Greek-cross plan and the Church of St. Maria La Porta that preserves a Byzantine fresco.
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The first inhabited nucleus, called Terravecchia, rose in the 13th century around a castle. Its history is bound to feudal families' such as the Filangieri, the Ventimiglia and the Santacolomba. Of interest is the Church of St. Michele, with wood sculptures and paintings dated back to 1500 and the Church of the Annunziata.
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A hill town outside Palermo, founded by the Albanians in the 15th century. It rises up on the eastern slopes of "Rocca Busambra" in a sparsely populated area of Sicily. Although its history is tied to the colonization of the Albanians, traces of a Graeco-Roman centre have been found on "Pizzo di Casa", while its name derives from the Arab Hamlet Manzil Jusuf. Of interest is the two foundations of St. Nicola of Greek Orthodox rite (15th c.) and the Church della Annunziata (16th c.) of Latin rite.
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The name derives from the Arab "Manzil Al Amir". It rose around a pre-existent Arabic-Norman castle. In the 14th century it became feud of Chiaramonte family. Of interest is the Church of St. Antonio and the Fontana Nuova.
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Situated at an altitude of roughly 300 Meters above sea level, Monreale, commands a magnificent view of the fertile Conca d'Oro plain. It dates from the Middle Ages when it began to develop around the Cathedral. It has been a bishop's see since 1183. World-renowned for its cathedral, a dazzling mixture of Arab, Byzantine and Norman artistic styles framed by traditional Romanesque architecture, all combined in a perfect blend of the best that both the Christian and Muslim worlds of the 12th century had to offer. The cathedral has fine copper doors by Bonanno Pisano; its interior is decorated with exceptional Byzantine mosaics, which, over an area of 6340 square meters, cover the walls. Of interest is also the Benedectine Abbey and the Civic Gallery of Modern Art.
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Montelepre is situated on a hill overlooking the valley of the River Nocella. Traces of a 4th century BC settlement have been found in the area. The present town developed in the 17th century around a defensive tower built in 1433 by the Archbishop of Monreale whose fief it was. It belonged to Pietro da Farmia, the Vernagallos, the Regalmicis and the Talamancas of Carini. The town has barely spread beyond its 18th century boundaries. Of interest is the Church of Maria SS. del Rosario and the Church of St. Rosalia.
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It was founded during the 15th century by a group of Greek-Albanian refugees escaped to Turkish persecution. Of interest is the the Chiesa della Madonna del Lume of Latin rite, and the Chiesa of Maria SS. Assunta of Greek-Byzantine rite, both of the 18th century. Also important is the Dara Palace.
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Dated back to the 3rd century, the town was dominated by different aristocratic families, the Ventimiglia family from 1258, the Moncada and the Alvarez de Toledo until 1812, when the feudal regime was abolished. Of interest is the neogothic Town Palace, the Chiesa di Santa Maria di Loreto (1700) and the Chiesa di S. Antonio Abate.
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From the 15th century it belonged to different feudal families such as the Ventimiglia, the Cardona, Moncada and the Alvarez de Toledo. In 1812 it gained the feudal abolition and a large territory had been annexed to its commune. Of interest is the Mother Church, the Chiesa di S. Maria dell Fontana and the Santuario della Madonna dell'Alto with inside the homonymous statue. Interesting is the "Ballo della Cordella" that takes place in August.
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The town was founded in 1488 by a group of refugees from Central-Southern Albania, fleeing a Turkish invasion. The town was originally called Hora (town), and then, until 1914, it was called Piana dei Greci (Plain of the Greeks). The inhabitants still maintain their Albanian dialect, rites, and traditional costumes. Since 1937, it has been a Greek Catholic bishop's see with jurisdiction over all the groups observing the Byzantine rite in Sicily. Of interest is the occasion of Easter when the populace dons their traditional costumes and walk through town offering everyone red painted eggs which have been blessed in the name of brotherhood and peace. The main monuments are the Cathedral Church of Greek rite (1590); the chiesa di Santa Maria Odigitria, the chiesa di S. Giorgio and the chiesa di S. Vito with an imposing portal.
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Of interest is the Chiesa di S. Girolamo, with its peculiar octagonal plan, the Chiesa di S. Francesco (14th century) and the Gagliardo Palace (late-manneristic style).
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Information about the inhabited centre are uncertain and connect it to a settlement in the locality of Hyppana placed on the Mountain of the Horses where an elime fortress was already existent. From the 12th century Prizzi became a feudal village and it was given to Monastery of St. Angelo, a property of the Cistercians. In the 13th and the 14th centuries it belonged to the Bonanno until 1812 when feudal duties were abolished. Of interest is the Mother Church, the baroque Chiesa del Crocifisso (1706) and the medieval Castle. Peculiar of Prizzi is the so-called "Ballo dei Diavoli" that takes place on Easter Sunday and represents the fight between good and evil.
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The modern town began to take shape in the 18th century in an area that had been inhabited since ancient times, when it became a fief of the Beccadelli Bologna family. It spread in the 19th century, when it absorbed the inhabitants of the neighboring San Giuseppe dei Mortilli (after 1864 known as San Giuseppe Jato) which was largely destroyed by a landslide in 1838. Of interest is the ruins of a castle maybe of Saracen origins and the Chiesa Anime Sante, the archaeological area of Mount Jato with its Theatre, the Agorà and the Temple of Aphrodite.
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In the 11th century it was conquered by the Normans who built a fortified castle. In the 14th century the Ventimiglia family founded the village with a typical Medieval town planning that is still now existent. Of interest is the Chiesa of S. Maria dei Franchi with the beautiful baptismal font made by Gagini and the Mother Church with the imposing fifteenth-century bell-tower.
Important are also the Medieval Chiesa of S. Giorgio and the Chiesa of S. Mauro.
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According to tradition the name Sclafani derives from Greek Esculapiifanum that means "sacred to Aesculapius". In 1330 it was led by a powerful lord of the place, Matteo Sclafani, who restored and lived in the Norman castle. Of interest is the Porta Soprana, an important monument overlooked by the coat of arms of Sclafani family, the Mother Church and the Chiesa of S. Giacomo.
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Its territory was inhabited in pre-historic times. After the destruction of Himera (480 BC), the surviving inhabitants fled to the city of Thermae. It was Cathaginian until the First Punic War when it was conquered (252 BC) by the Romans who enlarged the town. The city declined following Barbarian invasions but flourished again under the Arabs. Of interest is the Porta Palermo, the only gate remaining from the 16th century walls, and the Villa Palmeri. Also the Biblioteca Liciniana (library founded in 1800 containing precious parchments, incunabula, and rare editions), the Principe di Piemonte Belvedere, with the castle nearby, has an extraordinary view of the town and coast as far as Cefalù.
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From the Arab "at tarbìah" (the square) referring to its quadrangular town-planning, in the 14th century the town was supplied with an operating "tonnara" called St. Nicola. In 1635 prince Ottavio Lanza founded the present settlement and surrounded it by defensive walls. The Castle of Lanza family of 1500 is beautiful and interesting to visit. Important are also the Mother Church (18th century) and the Chiesa of S. Petronella (1500).
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Known to the Romans as "Ustum" meaning burned because of its black volcanic cliffs, Ustica is called "Black pearl of the Mediterranean". The isle stands in the middle of the Tyrrhenian sea, just 62 kms north of Palermo. Natural reserve from 1987, Ustica preserves an extraordinary richness of marine life in its deep blue and turquoise coloured waters.
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