Palermo: Art, Parks, and Kids

December 4, 2009

As part of last weekend's adventure we decided to spend one day in Palermo (about 30 minutes from our Agriturismo). Four adults, six kids,two cars and our first visit to the capital city. When doing some prelimary research on visiting Palermo with kids, the two places that kept coming up were the catacombs and the puppet shows. Since all of our kids are pretty young we steered clear of those attractions (we had been warned by other parents that they might be too scary). Instead we limited our focus to the La Kalsa area.

We started with the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia which is described as Sicily's most important art museum. A beautifully restored building with striking interior and exterior spaces (see the courtyard in the above pics). It has an impressive collection of work from the 14th to 16th centuries. I was very impressed by how all six of the kids did. As the child of two artists, I spent many hours wandering in museums and galleries. I remember times of true wonder and other moments of sheer boredom. My kids have not visited nearly as many museums as I did as a child but I would still like for them to have an appreciation for art in a variety of settings and a variety of art. This was our first museum experience since moving to Italy. It was a very large collection of religious paintings which actually turned into an interesting way to look at the different portrayals of Mary and the baby Jesus. Not necessarily the typical topic of conversation in a Jewish family but still interesting and probably a very good introduction to what we will be seeing throughout our time in Italy. We made a conscious decision to make the museum our first stop while the kids were all in good spirits and not too hungry or too tired. We also kept our visit fairly brief and didn't attempt to see everything at one time. My favorite piece was the marble bust of Eleonora of Aragon by Francesco Laurana (see above). I think the kids most enjoyed the courtyard.

We followed the locals to a very busy streetfront sandwich shop. We were all so hungry we stood on the sidewalk gobbling down our sandwiches and watching the pigeons fly around us. Not necessarily a gourmet Italian meal, but certainly a very tasty, lively, and quick lunch. Perfect for big and little travelers.

After lunch, we headed to Villa Giulia Park where everyone had a good time despite a little rain (amazing how the tree canopies kept us all pretty dry). Frisbee, hide and seek, running and up down the paths, and even a little land art. Located next door to the Botanical gardens (high on our list for future visits) but without the admission costs. A very nice little oasis in the middle of the city. On our walk back to the car, we came across a smaller park but one that was very appealing because it's enormous banyan trees: Giardino Garibaldi in Piazza Marina. Unfortunatedly, it was closed that day for tree trimming but it is good to keep in mind because it's close location to the puppet museum. We have found that when traveling with kids it is always good to combine indoor activities and outdoor activities. I think that is one of the reasons our first visit to Palermo was such a positive one. Looking forward to exploring other parts of the city on future trips.
Sarah V. said...

Sounds like you had a good trip. I love the last picture of the kids and the lovely design they're making!

Amie from Ciao Bambino said...

We haven't really covered Sicily on Ciao Bambino yet, although we've had readers that have raved about their experiences. It's nice to read this insight from you on Palermo.

Mom2Isabel said...

That first photo is just stunning: in subject, color, composition and angle.

Wanderluster said...

Where's the food???

upatreecupatea said...

good call not going to the catacombs!
i had terrible nightmares after i went there in elementary school. Noah & Camille are a lot braver than I was though! :)
- Jo

Madeline said...

you didn't say what type of sandwich you ate.... if it was from a street vendor was it panino con la milza by any chance? That's definitely a Sicilian specialty though I can't do it, psychologically

Corinne said...

Oh friend, I wish I had been able to join you on this adventure :)

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