May 31, 2019: Quattro Conti, Palermo, Italy

 

If the building in the photo above looks as if it might also be the building in the photos below, look again, because it's a case of almost but not quite!

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The scene is Quattro Conti, or Four Corners at the heart of Palermo's old city, where its two main thoroughfares cross. Just to add to the mix, there are quite a few possible translations for Quattro Conti, and Four Corners is not actually one of them. And the names don't stop. The corner is also referred to as the Baroque Cross and is officially Piazza Vigliena.

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The buildings were ordered by the Spanish Viceroys of Sicily, and that's reflected in their design. Each of the buildings has a set of statues representing, from the bottom up, one of the four seasons, one of the (up to that time) four Spanish Kings of Sicily and one of the patronesses of Palermo.

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They are part of one of the earliest examples of intentional town planning in Europe, and mark the point where what was originally Strada Nuova, or New Street, was built at right angles to the Cassaro, the ancient Roman main route into the city. Eventually, Strada Nuova was named for the Viceroy who built it, the Duke of Maqueda, and centuries later the Cassaro took the name of the king who unified Italy in 1870.

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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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