official_name = Comune di Palermo
established_title = Founded
established_date = 734 BC
website = http://www.comune.palermo.it
seal_size = 100px
map_caption = Location of the city of Palermo (red dot) within Italy.
mapsize = 215px
subdivision_type = Region
subdivision_type1 = Province
Province of Palermo
area_total_km2 = 158
population_as_of = January 2006
population_total = 675,018 (5th)
population_metro = 1241241
population_density_km2 = 4275
timezone = CET
utc_offset = +1
timezone_DST = CEST
utc_offset_DST = +2
latd=38 |latm=07 |lats= |latNS=N |longd=13 |longm=22 |longs= |longEW=E
postal_code_type = Postal codes
postal_code = 90100
area_code = 091
blank_name = Patron saints
Palermo (Sicilian: "Palermu", Greek: "Panormus", _ar. al-Madinah during Muslim rule) is a historic
cityin southern Italy, the capitalof the autonomous region Sicilyand the province of Palermo. The city is noted for its rich history, culture, architectureand gastronomy, playing an important role throughout much of its existence; it is over 2,700 years old. Palermo is located in the north-west of the island of Sicily, right by the Gulf of Palermo in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The city was founded by the
Phoenicians, but named by the Ancient Greeksas "Panormus" meaning "all port". Palermo became part of the Roman Republicand eventually part of the Byzantine Empire, for over a thousand years. For a brief period it was under Arab rule where it first became a capital. Following the Norman reconquest, Palermo would become capital of a new kingdom from 1130 to 1816 the Kingdom of Sicily. Eventually it would be united with the Kingdom of Naplesto form the Two Siciliesuntil the Italian unificationof 1860.
The metropolitan area of Palermo is the fifth most populated in
Italyand in the top eighty of the largest in all of Europewith around 1.2 million people. In the central area, the city itself has a population of around 670 thousand people, the inhabitants are known as "Palermitans" or poetically "panormiti", the language spoken by its inhabitants is the Sicilian language.
The religion of Roman Catholicism is highly important in Palermitan culture, the
patron saintof the city is Saint Rosalia, her feast day on July 15is perhaps the biggest social event in the city. The area attracts significant amounts of touristseach year and is widely known for its colourful fruit, vegetable and fish marketat the heart of Palermo known as the "Vucciria". [cite news|url=http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/05/20/travel/20journeys.html|publisher=NYTimes.com|title=In Palermo, Life Vibrates in a Fading Market|date= 8 January 2008]
Evidence for human settlement in the area now known as Palermo goes back to the
Pleistocene Epoch, around 8000 BC.cite news|url=http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art141.htm|publisher=Best of Sicily|title=Sicilian Peoples: The Sicanians|date= 7 October2007] This evidence is present in the form of cave drawings at nearby Addaura crafted by the Sicani, who according to Thucydidesarrived from the Iberian Peninsula(perhaps Catalonia). [cite news|url=http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/Sicily_-_History/id/5462681|publisher=Experience Festival|title=Sicily: Encyclopedia II - Sicily - History|date= 7 October2007] [cite news|url=http://books.google.com/books?id=A7kGAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=segre+sicano&source=web&ots=nafG4zc6s6&sig=x-ViYce3dJazDQqY72a3_4RHjVc|publisher=Ensayo historico|title=Aapologetico de la literatura española contra los opiniones|date= 7 October2007] During 734 BC the Phoenicians, a sea trading peoples from the north of ancient Canaanbuilt a small settlement on the natural habour of Palermo, some sources suggest they named the settlement "Zîz". The Greekswho were the most dominant culture on the island of Sicily, due to the powerful city state of Syracuse to the east, instead called the settlement "Panormus". Its Greek name means "all-port" and it was named as so because of its fine natural harbour.cite news|url=http://www.italytravelescape.com/history-of-palermo.htm|publisher=ItalyTravelEscape.com|title=History of Palermo|date= 7 October2007] Palermo was then passed on to the Phoenician's descendants and successors, in the form of the Carthaginians. During this period it was a centre of commerce; however a power struggle between the Greeks and the Carthaginians broke out in the form of the Sicilian Wars, causing unrest. It was from Palermo that Hamilcar's fleet which was defeated at the Battle of Himera was launched.cite news|url=http://www.bestofsicily.com/palermo.htm#Palermo%20history|publisher=BestofSicily.com|title=Destiny of a King's Capital|date= 7 October2007] Palermo eventually became a Greek colonywhen Pyrrhus of Epirusgained it during the Pyrrhic Warperiod in 276 BC. However as the Romansflooded into Sicily during the First Punic War, the city became under Roman rule only three decades later. The Romans made sure that, in the words of Roman consulM. Valerian to the Roman Senate; "no Carthaginian remains in Sicily". [cite news|url=http://www.10000bc.tv/|publisher=10000BC.tv|title=Sensational Sicily|date= 7 October2007] This period was quite a calm time for Palermo, which was growing into an important Roman trade centre, also during this period Christianityfirst began to be practiced in Palermo.cite news|url=http://www.bio.vu.nl/home/vwielink/WWW_MGC/Area_III_map/Panormos_map/InfoPanormos.html|publisher=Bio.vu.nl|title=Panormos Info|date= 7 October2007] cite news|url=http://www.bestofsicily.com/history2.htm|publisher=BestofSicily.com|title=Early & Medieval History|date= 7 October2007]
The Middle Ages
Roman Empirewas falling apart, Palermo fell under the control of several Germanic tribes; first were the Vandalsin 440 AD under the rule of their king Geiseric. The Vandals had already invaded other parts of western Europe establishing themselves as a significant force.cite book | last = Privitera | first = Joseph | title =Sicily: An Illustrated History | publisher =Hippocrene Books | url =http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0781809096/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top | isbn = 978-0781809092] However, they soon lost these newly acquired possessions to another East Germanic tribe in the form of the Goths. The Ostrogothic conquest under Theodoric the Greatbegan in 488; although the Goths were Germanic, Theodoric sought to revive Roman cultureand government instead. [cite news|url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9026834/Theodoric#949802.hook|publisher= Encyclopædia Britannica|title=Theodoric|date= 7 October2007] The Gothic War took place between the Ostrogoths and the Eastern Roman Empire, also known as the Byzantine Empire. Sicily was the first part of Italy to be taken under general Belisariuswho was commissioned by Eastern Emperor Justinian Iwho solidified his rule in the following years. [cite book | last = Hearder | first = Harry | title =Italy: A Short History | publisher =Cambridge University Press | url =http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/paper/FootJohn2.html | isbn = 978-0521337199] cite news|url=http://www.helleniccomserve.com/palermo.html|publisher=HellenicComserve.com|title=The Greek and Byzantine Roots of Palermo|date= 7 October2007] After the Byzantines were betrayed by admiral Euphemius, who fled to Tunisiaand begged the Aghlabidleader Ziyadat Allah to help him there was a Muslimconquest of Sicily, putting in place the Emirate of Sicily. The Arab rulers allowed the natives freedom of religionon the condition that they paid a tax. Although their rule was short in time, it was then that Palermo displaced Syracuse as the prime city of Sicily; it was said to have competed with Córdoba and Cairoin terms of importance and splendor. [cite book | last = Of Italy | first =Touring Club | title =Authentic Sicily | publisher =Touring Editore | url =http://books.google.com/books?id=E7BYFRh5b7oC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=%22Palermo%22+%22Cordoba%22+splendor&source=web&ots=eI0xW2I2g2&sig=plGhTLsqNCP7QsrOaOMOBB3KthU&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=3&ct=result | isbn = 8836534031] The Arabs also introduced many agriculturalitems which remain a mainstay of Sicilian cuisine.cite book | last = Privitera | first = Joseph | title =Sicily: An Illustrated History | publisher =Hippocrene Books | url =http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0781809096/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top | isbn = 978-0781809092] After dynasty related quarrels however, there was a Christian reconquest in the form of the Normansfrom the Duchy of Normandy, descendants of the Vikings.cite news|url=http://archaeology.stanford.edu/MountPolizzo/handbookPDF/MPHandbook5.pdf|publisher=Archaeology.Stanford.edu|title=Brief history of Sicily|date= 7 October2007] Palermo was back under Christian rule by 1072 thanks to Robert Guiscardof the House of Hauteville. It was under Roger II of Sicilythat his holdings of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsulawere promoted into the Kingdom of Sicily; the kingdom was ruled from Palermo as its capital, with the king's court held at Palazzo dei Normanni. Much construction was undertaken during this period, such as the building of the Palermo Cathedral. The Kingdom of Sicily became one of the wealthiest states in Europe, as wealthy as fellow Norman state the Kingdom of England. [cite book | last = John Julius | first = Norwich | authorlink = John Julius Norwich | title =The Normans in Sicily: The Normans in the South 1016–1130 and the Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194 | publisher =Penguin Global | url =http://www.amazon.com/Normans-Sicily-1016-1130-Kingdom-1130-1194/dp/0140152121 | isbn = 978-0140152128]
Sicily in 1194 fell under the control of the
Holy Roman Empire. Palermo was the preferred city of the Emperor Frederick II. Muslims of Palermo were migrated and expelled during Holy Roman rule. After an interval of Angevinrule (1266-1282), Sicily came under the house of Aragon and later, in (1479), the kingdom of Spainuntil 1713 and between 1717–1718. Palerrmo also managed by Savoybetween 1713–1717 and 1718-1720 and Austriabetween 1720-1734.
Two Sicilies and Italian unification
Sicily's unification (1734) with the Bourbon-ruled kingdom of
Naplesas the kingdom of the Two Siciliesinflicted a devastating blow on the elite of Palermo, as the city was reduced to just another provincial city, the royal court residing in Naples. Palermo rebelled in 1848 and held out against the Neapolitan crown until May 1849.
The Italian "
Risorgimento" and Sicily's annexation (1860) to the kingdom of Italy gave Palermo a second chance. It was once again the administrative centre of Sicily, and there was a certain economic and industrial development. In the second half of the 19th century Palermo expanded beyond the historical centre, especially towards Via della Libertá. Monumental public buildings were erected and a new thoroughfare was cut into the dense old town, called Via Roma. The city was one of the main centres of Art Nouveaustyle in Italy.
Palermo survived almost the entire fascist period unscathed, but during the
Allied invasion of Sicilyin July 1943 it suffered heavy damage.
The importance of Palermo got another boost when
Sicilybecame (1947) an autonomous region with extended self-rule. But any improvement was thwarted by the rising power of the Mafia, which still today is a dramatic feature of the city, as well as the whole Southern Italy.
Palermo has a noteworthy architectural heritage and is notable for its many Norman buildings.
Cathedral of Palermo(1185).
San Giovanni dei Lebbrosi(1071)
San Giovanni degli Eremiti(1132)
Martorana(Santa Maria dell'Ammiragliato, 1143)
* San Cataldo (12th century)
Santa Maria della Gancia
Santa Maria della Catena
San Giuseppe dei Teatini
* Oratorio di San Lorenzo
* Oratorio del Rosario
* Santa Teresa alla
Kalsaderives its name from Al-Khalisa, an arab term meaning "elected". The church, constructed in 1686–1706 over the former emir's residence, is one of the most outstanding examples of Sicilian Baroque. It has a single, airy nave, with stucco decorations from the early 18th century.
*Santa Maria dello Spasimo was built in 1506 and later turned into a hospital. For this temple
Raphaelpainted his famous " Sicilia's Spasimo", now in the Museo del Pradoof Madrid. The church today is a fascinating air-open ruin, which occasionally houses exhibitions and musical shows.
*the Church of the Jesus ("Chiesa del Gesù") was built by the Jesuits in the centre of the city from 1564, over a pre-existing convent of Basilian monks. The edifice was further enlarged starting from 1591, becoming one of the most relevant examples of
Sicilian Baroque, though retaining some severe late Renaissance fashion. The church was heavily damaged after the 1943 bombings, which destroyed most of the frescoes. The interior has a Latin cross plan with a nave and two aisles, characterized by a particularly rich decoration of marbles, tarsias and stuccoes, especially in the St. Anne chapel. At the right is the Casa Professa, with a 1685 portal and a precious 18th century cloister. The Church of the Jesus is home to the Municipal Library, placede here in 1775.
*The church of St. Francis of Assisi, erected in what was once the market district of the city. It was built between 1255 and 1277 in the site of two pre-existing churches, and was largely renovated in the 15th, 16th, 18th and 19th centuries, the latter after an earthquake. After the 1943 bombings, the church was restored to its Mediaeval appearance, which now includes part of the original building such as part of the right side, the apses and the Gothic portal in the façade. The interior has a typical Gothic flavour, with a nave and two aisles separated by two rows of cylindrical pilasters. Some of the chapels are in Renaissance style, as well as the late 16th century side portals. The church includes precious sculptures by Antonio and
Giacomo Gagini, and Francesco Laurana, plus a noteworthy wooden choir dating from the 16th century. Of note are also the allegorical statues by Giacomo Serpotta (1723), also author of the stucco decoration.
*The church of the Magione (officially church of the
Holy Trinity), an ancient example of Norman architecture. The church was founded in 1191 by Matteo d'Ajello, who donated it to the Cistercian monks.
Palaces and museums
Palazzo dei Normanni, one of the most beautiful Italian palaces and a notable example of Norman architecture, probably built over an Arab fortress. It houses the famous Cappella Palatina.
* Zisa (1160) and Cuba, magnificent castles/houses used by the kings of Palermo for hunting. Similar buildings were common in northern Africa, but today these two are the only ones remaining. The Zisa houses the Islamic museum. The Cuba was once encircled by water.
* Palazzo Chiaramonte
Palazzo Abatellis, with the Regional Gallery. It was built at the end of the 15th century for the prefect of the city, Francesco Abatellis. It is a lassive though elegant construction, in typical Catalan Gothic style, with Renaissanceinfluences. The Gallery houses an Elenora of Aragon bust by Francesco Laurana(1471) and the "Malvagna Triptych" (c. 1510), by Jan Gossaertand the famous "Annunziata" by Antonello da Messina. The exposition in the museum has been designed by the famous architect Carlo Scarpa.
* The Museo Archeologico Regionale is one the main museums of Italy: it includes numerous remains from Etruscan, Carthaginian, Roman and
Hellenisticcivilizations. It houses all the decorative parts from the Sicilian temples of Segestaand Selinunte.
Teatro Massimo("Greatest Theatre") was opened in 1897. Closed for renovation from 1974 until 1997, it is now carefully restored and has an active schedule. Enrico Carusosang in a performance of " La Gioconda" during the opening season, returning for " Rigoletto" at the very end of his career. It is the largest theater in Italy (8000 sm).
Teatro Politeamawas built between 1867 and 1874. Nowadays, the town's Gallery of Modern Art is accommodated here.
Quattro Cantiis a small square at the crossing of the ancient main roads (now: Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda) dividing the town into its quarters ('mandamenti'). The buildings at the corner have diagonal baroque facades so that the square gets an almost octagonal form.
* Piazza Pretoria was planned in the 16th century near the Quattro Canti as the site of a fountain by Francesco Camilliani, the Fontana Pretoria.
The Cathedral has a
heliometer(solar "observatory") of 1690, one of a number [http://cis.alma.unibo.it/NewsLetter/090496Nw/Heilbron.htm A paper from University of Bologna describing Heliometers in Italian Cathedrals] ] built in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries. The device itself is quite simple: a tiny hole in one of the minor domes acts as Pinhole camera, projecting an image of the sun onto the floor at solar noon (12:00 in winter, 13:00 in summer). There is a bronze line, "la Meridiana " on the floor, running precisely N/S. The ends of the line mark the positions as at the summer and winter solstices; signs of the zodiac show the various other dates throughout the year.
The purpose of the instrument was to standardise the measurement of time and the calendar. The convention in Sicily had been that the (24 hour) day was measured from the moment of sun-rise, which of course meant that no two locations had the same time and, more importantly, did not have the same time as in
St. Peter's Basilicain Rome. It was also important to know when the Vernal Equinoxoccurred, to provide the correct date for Easter.
Orto botanico di Palermo, founded in 1785, is the largest in Italy with a surface of 10 ha.
Close to the city is convert|600|m|ft|-1|sing=on|spell=us high Monte Pellegrino, with spectacular views of the city, its surrounding mountains and the ocean..
In 2007, there were 666,552 people residing in Palermo (in which 1 million live in the greater Palermo area), located in the province of Palermo,
Sicily, of whom 47.6% were male and 52.4% were female. Minors (children ages 18 and younger) totalled 21.64 percent of the population compared to pensioners who number 16.54 percent. This compares with the Italian average of 18.06 percent (minors) and 19.94 percent (pensioners). The average age of Palermo resident is 37 compared to the Italian average of 42. In the five years between 2002 and 2007, the population of Palermo declined by 2.92 percent, while Italyas a whole grew by 3.56 percent. The reason for Palermo's decline is a population flight to the suburbs, and Northern Italy. [http://demo.istat.it/bil2002/index.html] [http://demo.istat.it/bil2007/index.html] The current birth rate of Palermo is 10.75 births per 1,000 inhabitants compared to the Italian average of 9.45 births.
As of 2006, 97.79% of the population was of
Sicilian/Italian descent. The largest immigrant group came from South Asia(mostly from Sri Lanka): 0.80%, other European countries (mostly from Serbiaand Poland): 0.3%, and North Africa(mostly from Tunisia): 0.28%. [http://demo.istat.it/str2006/dati/Palermo.zip]
Palermo has its own football team,
U.S. Città di Palermo, playing in Italian Serie Aand in UEFA Cupfirst round of the 2007–2008 season. The chairman is Maurizio Zampariniand the coach is Stefano Colantuono.The Targa Floriowas an open road endurance car race held near Palermo. Founded in 1906, it used to be one of the oldest sports car racing events until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns but has since run as a rallying event.
Palermo was home to the grand depart of the 2008
Giro d'Italia. The initial stage was a 28.5 km long TTT ( Team Time Trial) held on May 10th. Internazionali Femminili di Palermois a WTA TourTier IV tournament in Palermo.
The patron saint of Palermo is
Santa Rosalia, who is still widely venerated.On the 14th of July, people in Palermo celebrate the "Festino", which is the most important religious event of the year. The Festino is a procession in the main street of Palermo to remember the miracle attributed to Santa Rosalia who, it is believed, freed the city from the Black Deathin 1624. The cave where the bones of Santa Rosalia were discovered is on Monte Pellegrino (see above): when her relics were carried around the city three times, the plague was lifted. There is a Santuario marking the spot and can be reached via a scenic bus ride from the city below.
Before 1624 Palermo had four
patron saints, one for each of the four major parts of the city. They were Saint Agatha, Saint Christina, Saint Ninfaand Saint Olivia.
Saint Lucy is also honoured with a peculiar celebration, during which inhabitants of Palermo do not eat anything made with flour, but boil wheat in its natural state and use it to prepare a special dish called
cuccìa. This commemorates the saving of the city from famine through the intercession of St Lucia. A ship full of grain mysteriously arrived in the city's harbour and the population was so hungry that they did not waste time in making flour but ate the grain as it had arrived.
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Palermo International Airport, also known as Falcone-Borsellino Airport, Punta Raisi Airport: dedicated to Giovanni Falconeand Paolo Borsellino, two anti-mafia judges killed by the mafia in early 1990s, is located 32 km (19 miles) west of Palermo (Punta Raisi).
The airport can also be reached by trains departing from Centrale, Notarbartolo and Francia stations.
*cite book|first=Patrizia |last=Fabbri|title=Palermo e Monreale|publisher=Bonechi|location=Florence|year=2005
*cite book|first=Aymn |last=Almsaodi|title=The Desert Race
List of mayors of Palermo
The Sack Of Palermo
Giardini- a suburb of Palermo
* [http://www.comune.palermo.it/ The City Council website]
* [http://www.palermotourism.com Official tourism website for the city]
* [http://www.palermocitta.it Information about the city of Palermo] (In Italian)
* [http://videoteppista.net/palermo.htm Online documentary on the city's social precarities] (In Italian and German)
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