Art in Kalsa
Palermo's Palazzo Abatellis: from Romanesque to Baroque, Sicilian style.
"Al Khalesa", which was built by the Arabs in the 9th century, was once the ancient citadel of "al Khalesa, and is one of the most fascinating districts in the whole of Palermo.
Subject of recent revitalization, "Kalsa", as this quarter of the Sicilian capital is now known, is both steeped in history and buzzing with new found energy.
As they stroll through Kalsa's narrow, winding lanes, caressed by the sea breeze from the nearby marina, visitors soon come across the 15th century Palazzo Abatellis.
One of Palermo's last semi-fortified patrician residences, Palazzo Abatellis is home to the Sicilian Regional Gallery: a museum which is well worth visiting, both for the quantity and quality of its artworks and for the beauty of the Gothic-Catalan style building housing them
The greater part of the museum's art works, which date from the 12th to 18th century, were salvaged from deconsecrated and suppressed convents in the 19th century.
Scarpa and sculptures
Second World War bombing significantly damaged the building and in 1954 the Venetian architect Carlo Scarpa was enlisted to supervise its restoration and organize the exhibition spaces.
Scarpa placed the sculptures on the ground floor and paintings on the upper floor, with the exception of the 15th century "Triumph of Death" fresco, located on the wall of the ancient chapel which originally occupied the site.
Despite having been designed more than 50 years ago, Scarpa's innovative museum layout has remained largely unaltered.
Antonello da Messina's celebrated "Annunciation", the museum's most important work, has been placed in front of a window, as if to catch the daylight
Other crowd-pullers include Francesco Laurana's bust of Eleonora d'Aragona and the works by Pietro Novelli, the great 17th century Sicilian artist second only to Antonello da Messina.
Partying in Palermo
Another obligatory port of call in Palermo's Kalsa district, the roofless Santa Maria dello Spasimo Church has been recently transformed into a stunning outdoor concert hall.
As the sun sets, holidaymakers join the locals for an aperitif at Kursaak Kalhesa, one of the Sicilian capital's trendiest evening venues, created inside the walls of an ancient palazzo, which has been cleverly converted into a winebar, restaurant and bookshop.
Galleria Regionale della Sicilia Palazzo Abatellis
Via Alloro, 4
Tel. +39 091 6230006
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