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Mondello & the Favorita Park
Mondello Beach: This district of Palermo on the western side of Mount Pellegrino seems like a separate town, and in many ways it is. Mondello has a public beach and plenty of excellent seafood restaurants. Except for parking problems once you get there, it's convenient to drive to Mondello, though there is also public bus service from Palermo. With its freestanding houses and tree lined streets, Mondello is the part of Palermo that most resembles the residential areas of medium-sized North American and Northern European cities and towns. There's little of historical interest here except for several round medieval watch towers. Mondello is particularly crowded on weekends, especially during July and August, when Sferracavallo, a few miles away, might be a better choice for evening dining.
Mount Pellegrino & Saint Rosalie's Shrine: Translated "Pilgrims' Mountain," crown-shaped Mount Pellegrino offers panoramic views of Palermo and the Sea but is most famous for the Sanctuary of Saint Rosalie, located near the summit along winding roads that traverse woods of typically Mediterranean stone pines. Venerated for centuries, this medieval saint is thought to have been of Norman ancestry, though in fact there exists little evidence to support that idea. She sought a hermit's life on Mount Pellegrino and many miracles were attributed to her. The feast of Saint Rosalie (Santa Rosalia), heavenly patroness of Palermo, is celebrated 13-15 July. By following the main road past the Sanctuary one reaches the mountain's summit, with its views of Mondello and the Sea.
Chinese Villa: This interesting residence was built for King Ferdinando I of the Two Sicilies during his sojourn in Palermo while his mainland capital, Naples, was occupied by French troops. Constructed to plans drawn by Marvuglia in 1799, the Villa and its oriental gardens reflect the "Chinese Revival" architectural style, albeit with certain Neo Classical elements. It was one of the largest Oriental style residences built in Europe during that period, and it was much preferred by the monarch and his consort, Queen Maria Carolina. Another resident of the Chinese Villa was Ferdinando's son and heir, Francesco I, who lived here with his wife, Maria Isabella of Spain, who gave birth to the future Ferdinando II at Palermo in 1810. The Chinese Villa is located in the Favorita Royal Park near the hamlet of Pallavicino. The nearby Pitré Folk Museum is open to the public.
Favorita Park: Surrounding the Chinese Villa, in the shadow of Mount Pellegrino, the Royal Park ("La Favorita") is a vast wooded tract that once served as a royal hunting estate. Rabbits and migratory birds are still seen here occasionally. The Scuderia (royal mews) is now used as an office, though an equestrian club is located elsewhere on the estate. Villa Niscemi, the palatial estate of an aristocratic family, forms part of the Favorita and serves as the mayor's official residence. The Royal Park is owned by the City of Palermo. Despite encroaching development, most notably with the construction of a soccer stadium and other structures at its eastern end, the Favorita still retains much of its original charm. It is an attractive segue to Mondello Beach.
Addaura: This is a coastal district at the northern base of Mount Pellegrino. The hamlet itself is unremarkable, really little more than an overdeveloped fishing village. However, Addaura Cavern is famous for its prehistoric drawings and engravings, discovered only in 1952, proof of a human presence in the Palermo area from an early date.
© 2008 Best of Sicily Travel Guide. Used by permission.