Palermo seems to be a city one either hates or loves. It is a noisy, chaotic city, where you as a tourist are greeted by countless, confusing impressions. As in other Italian cities, there is an infernal noise from the city’s inhabitants and their vehicles, where the horn is used diligently. At the same time, Sicily’s location close to the African coast means that the island, and especially Palermo, is home to countless illegal immigrants and it is estimated that there are over a million people living in the city, even though the official population is just 686,722. (In the metropolitan area, 1.2 million inhabitants are registered.) The many different nationalities and skin colors give the city a life and a pulse that can seem overwhelming – or charming, depending on temperament.
Palermo, which in Sicilian is called Palermu, is the capital of the region of Sicily.
It is Italy’s fifth largest city, after Rome, Milan, Naples and Turin, and Europe’s 30th largest. The city’s millennial history is found in Punic walls, Arabic-Norman buildings, baroque churches and neoclassical theaters. Palermo is located on a large plain called Conca d’Oro (Golden Valley). The plain was originally intersected by many rivers and streams and had large swampy areas. The rivers, Kemonia and Papireto, on which the city was founded, have today disappeared from the face of the earth; but they exist underground and run under some streets in the historic center. In severe storms, these streets are flooded with water flowing up from below. Outside the city walls runs the river Oreto. In addition to these three rivers, there are many streams that are seasonal and periodically create swampy areas. The lush plain is surrounded by mountains and the winters, where their peaks are covered with snow, the area gets a breathtaking look. Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo, both today nature reserves, face the coast, while the other mountains separate Palermo from the interior of the island.
Palermo has a Mediterranean climate, ie. warm, temperate climate with dry summers. Spring and autumn are the best seasons for visits with mild, pleasant temperatures. In summer, especially in June and July, the African air is felt, which can bring the temperature up to 450. The highest recorded temperature is 460. In winter, the weather is fresher and it rains a lot. On average, every seven years, snow is experienced in the city; but on the surrounding mountains it happens on average every four years. Hail can be experienced in the winter cloudburst. The lowest measured temperature is -20, but the weather is generally very mild and no palermitans will be surprised if the thermometer in January reaches 250 or in April reaches 350. In summer it is not unusual that there is high humidity towards the water,
The city is divided into eight areas and 25 neighborhoods. Le Terrazze is located in Palermos Centro Storico, located within the 16th-century city walls. The area is divided into two roads, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele.
This creates four neighborhoods:
-Kalsa (Mandamento Tribunale)
-La Loggia (Mandamento Castellammare)
-Il Capo (Mandamento Palazzo Reale) and
-Albergheria (Mandamento Monte di Pietà).
The name comes from the Arabic al Khalisa, meaning the pure or the chosen one. It is this name that is still used by the city’s residents, although the neighborhood today is rightly called the Mandamento Tribunale, a name that refers to the former heretical court housed in the Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri located in this neighborhood. The neighborhood originated in the Arab period and was the first neighborhood outside the city walls of that time. The port was facing an extension and this area southeast of the port was therefore chosen to expand the city. During the subsequent Norman domination, the ancient Arab city walls were toppled. In the Middle Ages, the area grew unplanned and haphazardly, but in the 15th and 16th centuries this was rectified somewhat, first with the construction of the Via Maqueda road and a hundred years later Via Roma, which runs almost parallel to Via Maqueda.
For many years, Kalsa was one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, but in recent years, many buildings have been restored or are being restored, making the narrow streets even narrower due to the many construction sites.
For a number of years, the municipality has organized a summer festival called Kals’Art, where for three months every night there are concerts, exhibitions and theater performances in the streets. For a shorter period in the winter, the success of Winter Kals’Art is repeated.