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Palermo - Italian capital of culture 2018

The University of Palermo once the home of The Inquisition in Sicily

This week Future Cities Forum has been in Palermo, Sicily, to understand the regeneration programme that has taken place in the city. Recently it won the award to showcase its culture in 2018.

The city has fought the mafia that created row on row of drab suburban apartment blocks on the edge of the city, pulling down many fine historic villas in the process.

Now the authorities have been financing a resurgence of renovation and quality building, encouraging those that live in the city to take pride in their homes. Whole streets have been restored to create magnificent vistas towards the mountains that crouch nearby.

Travelling by motorbike or APE three-wheeler taxi, the city's 12th century cathedral, 19th century opera house and lush gardens are a sight to behold - riches that lay ignored with the mafia in charge until the 1990s. Most city inhabitants refused to leave their homes and enjoy the monuments and streets during those years.

La Cala, the old fishing harbour, once a rubbish tip, is now full of yachts. Renaissance palaces, to rival those in Florence in size and gradeur, sit in newly pedestrianised city squares. Traces of Islamic influence can be seen in pink-domed mosques and churches carved by Arab-Norman craftsmen and these buildings at present are being carefully maintained.

Palermo was judged to be the winner of the Capital of Culture 2018 by a jury selected through the Culture Ministry and will receive a million-euro prize to be used for promotion and investments.

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