52 Reasons to Love Sicily
#22. Strolls through public gardens offer a different kind of exploring. Villa Giulia, an oasis of greenery in Palermo that was commissioned in 1777, presents you with a geometric layout accentuated with neoclassical band shells and allegorical statues. In the midst of the park, is the Villa Giulia version of the Genius of Palermo, or the “Fontana del Genio a Villa Giulia.” This 18th century statue created by sculptor Ignazio Marabitti is one of eight representations of a crowned man with a snake feeding on his breast that can be found throughout Sicily’s capital city.
The Genius of Palermo is an ancient icon — so ancient that the mythological pre-Roman origins of it are uncertain. Il Genio di Palermo is considered to be the secular protector of the city and its multicultural inhabitants. In the 19th century, it became the symbol of desired freedom from the oligarchic Bourbon lords.
During your visit to Palermo, keep an eye out for him — see if you can find all eight iterations!