Quattro Canti

The Quattro Canti is the cross roads of Palermo and divides this great city into its 'Quarters'. Built by the Bourbons and decorated with the fountains of the four seasons, the four Bourbon kings and the four Patron saints of the city, it stands majestic and 'all controlling' in its octagonal outline.

pippa_balcony On the balcony of Palazzo di Napoli

Some time later, on another trip, I was able to get up to the piano nobile level of the old Palazzo di Napoli which overlooks Quattro Canti. Once one of the greatest Palazzi in Palermo, it is now room upon room of faded elegance. I closed my eyes and imagined the people, the parties, the dancing into the small hours until light shone once again through the windows of days gone by.

The elegant iron balconies of the Palazzo run south and east in a continuation, weaving in and around the statues of kings. I leant over the balcony feasting on the garlanded decoration along the fountain basins and sketched the outline for the Quattro Canti earring Halos - a cornucopia of oranges, lemons, pomegranates and leaves. The Cannoli (filled with Ricotta) and my cafe that I had brought with me as sustenance for my sketching, caught my eye and in amongst those regal and gilded rooms I turned the Cannoli into a golden necklace with pearls.

quattro_canti_halos Quattro Canti earring halos

The eastern balcony runs towards the Teatro Massimo where in the Royal Box I had observed charming musical decorations on the columns. Being circular they lent themselves to a design for a necklace or bracelet, and so I sketched them in my note book with my pencil, as the light faded in the afternoon at the palazzo. Now made, I have slipped these golden sections in amongst some dark lava beads creating a necklace and linking Mount Etna to the capital city of the Island of Sicily.

lava_necklace Teatro Massimo Lava Necklace

Later that evening I walked back down Via Maqueda to put my sketch book safely where I was staying before meeting friends for dinner at I Vespri - a charming restaurant in the corner of the Piazza Croce Dei Vespri . In the summer evenings the windows of the ballroom of the Palazzo Valguarnera Gangi are left open and from the restaurant you can look up to the twinkling of the chandeliers. For a few moments if you close your eyes you can imagine another great ballroom scene of days gone by – that of The Leopard, the quintessential Sicilian novel written by Giuseppe di Lampedusa.