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La strada mercato. Il Capo di Palermo


The usual present reading of Palermo Historical Centre derives from the subdivision into four “Mandamenti” born from the intersection of two large rectilinear roads, via Maqueda and via Toledo ( the present Corso Vittorio Emanuele ), wanted by the Spanish Viceroyalty and made several times over between 16th and 17th century : at the crossing of the two roads a scenographic arrangement called “Teatro del Sole”, with four fountains hinting at the four seasons and at four sovereigns and four Patron Saints, aims at emphasizing an abstract and ideal characteristic of a cartesian “square city “, ruled by a geometric drawing aiming at the balance and the symmetry of each part, owing to a purely Renaissance vision of the urban space. With a more careful analysis we can guess that the 16th century drawing doesn’t concern the whole built texture, but overlaps it modifying urban architecture only in the areas close to the road demolitions, which act as two long stage wings ; the medieval city remains behind them with its weaving of alleys and small squares, giving birth in this way to an equivocal situation where different realities live together with an order which is not any longer the original one : today this fact looks much more relevant considering that the planning approach, both in the urban plan and in the restoration, needs an operation of knowledge and analysis of urban textures already codified to avoid dangerous misunderstandings. The image of the medieval “arabic/mediterranean” city, based on exact structural hierarchies and connecting lines, expresses a dynamism and a vitality arranged in different ways, surely escaping the drawing control, intended as a tool of balance and check of various sectors or quarters, but not left to the case or to some laws of spontaneous aggregation.