Excursion – Esoteric Palermo
Discover the most hidden aspects of Palermo with this exclusive tour. We will uncover the mysterious secrets of Palermo’s past, that regard topics such as esoterism, masonry, alchemy and the cult of the dead. Of course, we will not overlook the main attractions of the city!
Initial meeting in Palermo Central Station at 10AM. Once we have gathered, we will immediately head to the colorful and noisy Ballarò market. After walking through it, we will reach the entrance of vicolo Conte di Cagliostro. Conventionally, this is the birthplace of Giuseppe Balsamo, count of Cagliostro (1743 – 1795): mason, alchemist and forger, very well-known in the popular culture. He travelled all around Europe, deceiving people with his presumed skills as a magician and alchemist, until he was arrested by the Holy Inquisition, that sentenced him to life imprisonment for heresy. In front of his home, we will resume the various tales that made him one of the most famous and controversial figures of its age.
Near vicolo Cagliostro, we will find Palazzo Conte Federico, a splendid noble palace. Through the guided visit, we will discover how this palace was a meeting place for masons, and how during the Risorgimento this was an important strategic spot for the planning of the Unification of Italy. Among the names of the masons that met here, we will find some unexpected names!
Then we will visit the Palermo Cathedral. Inside, we will find the royal tombs, among which lies Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor. Under his kingdom, alchemy started to flourish and spread in Europe. We will carry out a complete visit of the Cathedral, that comprehends the crypt, the dungeons and the rooftop, where we will enjoy a complete view of the city. Outside of the Cathedral, there are two bas-reliefs of the Genie of Palermo, the tutelar deity of the city, whose origins are long lost in time. Maybe this mythical figure will pop up again during our exploration?
While this tour mainly focuses on the hidden aspects of Palermo, this does not mean that we will overlook good food. Luckily, we are fully able to merge both aspects, having our lunch in the Covo dei Beati Paoli restaurant. This restaurant is built in what is thought to be one of the hideouts of the Beati Paoli, a secret clan of avengers that resided in Palermo in the past centuries, moving secretly through the city using secret trapdoors and underground dungeons.
The restaurant is located in the large and quiet Piazza Marina, where Europe’s biggest ficus grows – a truly colossal tree that has been living here for centuries.
We are very close to Palazzo Abatellis, that hosts the Sicilian Regional Gallery. We will particularly focus on two paintings: the Virgin Annunciate by Antonello da Messina and the Triumph of Death.
We will then head to another area of the city, and visit the Catacombs of the Capuchins. This place is well known all over the world for the thousands of mummies exposed, and for the and for the excellent state of preservation of some of them. The most famous amongst the mummies is the one of Rosalia Lombardo, a two-year-old child that died in 1920. Her body is so well-preserved that it looks like she is just peacefully sleeping. It is said that, depending on the degree of humidity of the catacombs, the mummy slowly opens her eyes throughout the day.
Lastly, we will follow the route of the Vinegar witch: this is the nickname given to Giovanna Bonanno (1713 – 1789), a serial killer that, in her last years, managed to create a lethal toxin that would not leave any trace. We will visit the Zisa neighborhood, where she lived, and where mysterious deaths kept occurring during her years of activity as a poisoner. The most important place of this neighborhood is undoubtedly its marvelous Arab castle, that we will visit.
The price includes:
- Transfers in private, air-conditioned bus
- English-speaking guide
- Entrance fee for Palazzo Conte Federico, Palazzo Abatellis, Catacombs of the Capuchins, Zisa Castle
- Entrance fee for the complete tour of Palermo Cathedral
- Lunch in the Covo dei Beati Paoli restaurant, drinks included
Price per person (€)
Number of people