Palazzo dei Normanni : Michelin's recommendations
This palace is located on the highest point of the town. The Normans reused the place formerly occupied by a Carthaginian fortress and the Arabic Qsar (castle), abandoned after the departure of the Emir to the Kalsa. The site once again became a royal residence under the Normans, who undertook its embellishment and extension. Duriing your visit, you should try and imagine several wings joined together by terraces and gardens decorated with basins and fountains. The tower of Pisa was joined by three other leaning towers: the Greek one, the Joaria and the Kirimbi. The beautiful, great sala verde was the centre of court life, with its banquets and meetings. In the 17C, the Spanish reworked the imposing South façade and the internal courtyard, decorated with three floors of galleries. The palace is currently home to the Sicilian Parliament, whose entrance is preceded by a monumental 1735 staircase. The Hercules room (1560) takes its name from the great frescoes of Giuseppe Velasquez representing the hero's twelve feats. You will in fact only see six of them, as the others are hidden behind the tribunes where the Sicilian parliamentarians sit. The atrium is the central room of the Joaria, the most original of the old towers. Note the heating system: the openings in the walls formerly served to circulate the hot or cold air from the interior. Don't miss the Roger II room which copies the decorative motifs of the Palatine chapel. A high base of marble slabs framed with mosaics supports the golden mantle of the upper part and the ceiling.