Le Stanze del Conte

The Genio of Palermo

The Genio of Palermo is the tutelary deity of the city complementary to Santa Rosalia, patroness of the city.

He is depicted as a mature man with a beard divided into two strands and a crown on his head, embraced by a snake that feeds on his chest.

It is one of the most complex and discussed mythical figures of the Palermo tradition.

A sort of genius loci of which there are some sculptures, a painting and a mosaic.

The oldest representations are those placed at the entrance to the Port of Palermo and in Palazzo Pretorio (Piazza delle Vergogne)

The others were built between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries: they are the Genius of Garaffo in the homonymous square of Vucciria, the Genius of Piazza Revolution and the one inside the Villa Giulia, the Genius of the mosaic created by Pietro Casamassima for the Palatine Chapel at the Palazzo dei Normanni, the Genius of Villa Fernandez, and finally of the one that is right above your head in the noble floor of the Palazzo Termine del Conte d’Isnello: we are talking about the Genius of Apotheosis painted by Vito D’Anna in 1760.

There are many interpretations about the origin of this figure; according to the Sicilian historian Vincenzo Di Giovanni, a statue depicting the Genius was donated to the city by Scipio the African as a gesture of gratitude for the help given by the Palermitans in the war against Hannibal’s Carthaginians.

Despite doubts about its origin, the Genius of Palermo is a source of great attraction for tourists who, once they arrive in the city, go in search of his eight representations.

The Genius is also a source of inspiration for contemporary artists; the decorator Francesca Pagliaro has created a pop version of it on wooden boards; three of these brightly colored tables are on display right in the Stanze del Conte.