Sicily is a sort of huge and natural museum. Wherever you go, you can bump into something extraordinary that will astonish you. Not only gorgeous landscapes but also art. From the most ancient works to the modern ones, today Sicilian Secrets lets you discover three masterpieces that you can see in the island.
What happens when Sicily meets art? While starting from three famous paintings, we will learn more about the places where they are exhibited: from Caravaggio to Antonello da Messina and Renato Guttuso, from Palermo to Syracuse. Are you ready to start this journey? First stop…
…the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia (Syracuse)
Once you get in the city, you cannot miss the Cathedral of course. But if you walk a few steps more in the same square, you have to visit the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia that is dedicated to the patron saint of Syracuse. In the XV century it was a monastery, after the earthquake in 1693 it was rebuilt following the project of the architect Luciano Caracciolo.
Inside you can see four baroque altars and some frescos that represent the Triumph of Saint Lucy. But the masterpiece you cannot miss is the Burial of Saint Lucy by Caravaggio (1608). At the beginning this painting was above the altar of the church of Santa Lucia al Sepolcro, after several restorations it has been moved here.
This piece of art is remarkable especially for the seriousness of the scene and the lights that enhance the dramatic force of the painting. Caravaggio chose an unusual subject, but local authorities really liked it because it strengthened the cult of Saint Lucy that had suffered a setback after the theft of her remains during the Middle Ages.
And now, let’s go to Palermo! Second stop…
…Palazzo Abatellis (Palermo)
Palazzo Abatellis is located in the Kalsa district and hosts the Sicilian Art Gallery. It is a great example of the Gothic-Catalan architecture, designed by Matteo Carnelivari in the XV century. After the second world war, the palace was restored and in 1954 became the house of the Gallery of Medieval Art Collection. The masterpiece you can find on the first floor of the museum is the Virgin Annunciate by Antonello da Messina (1476), one of the best Italian Renaissance paintings.
It shows Holy Mary interrupted at her reading by the Angel of the Annunciation. The essential geometric lines highlight the face of the Virgin and her position makes this work of art incredibly natural. Her hands, lips and eyes make the character real, the dark background and the high-quality light allow us to perceive even the materials of the objects we can see in the painting. Everything is pure and formal, but the most remarkable characteristic is the psychological interpretation that the artist was able to lend it.
Let’s move to…
…Palazzo Steri (Palermo)
Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri was begun in the XIV century and restored in the XX century. It was the house of many Sicilian aristocrats and then, from 1600 to 1782 was turned into the tribunal of the Holy Inquisition. Nowadays this palace is a museum and the most important art piece is Vucciria, by Renato Guttuso (1974).
This masterpiece is probably the most famous work of the artist. Thanks to the thick lines and the wise application of the colors, this painting is 100% real, rough and blood and perfectly describes the market of Palermo called ‘A Vucciria. It looks like a picture of Sicilian soul: just looking at it you can feel the smell, the voices of people who yell to sell their products, the flavor of food. Art becomes life, the ordinary life of the market made of fruits, vegetables, shouting, meat, pedestrians.
It’s all about Sicilian traditions: this is the history of Palermo, this is the power of colors, this is the magic of art.