The origins of the myth

Once upon a time there lived an intrepid Roman warlord, feared by the very most because of his political and military ability: Scipio called The African due to his glorious victory against Hannibal in 202 BC, during the Second Punic War.

The city of Palermo was a precious ally in the war against Carthage, so Scipio gifted the town with a so called genius loci and its sculptural representation.

Tall and handsome, proudly wearing his crown while holding a dangerous snake to his chest…

The only question is: who is he and what does he symbolize?


Who is the Genius of Palermo?

Through the centuries there have been many speculations about the identity of the Genius and the symbols that he embodies, but the most accredited sees him as the personification of Palermo and the snake as Scipio and the gratitude of the whole Roman people for the help given during the battles against Hannibal.

The Genius has also come to represent a sort of laic protector of the town, often associated with the original patron saint of Palermo, S. Rosalia.

The most important representations of the Genius of Palermo are 8 and you can find them all over the city.

Find them with us! And discover some of the most important historical locations in Palermo:

1 - The Genius of the port

You can find the most ancient representation, dating back to the 16th century in Via Emerico Amari near the entrance of the port.

2 - Genius of Piazza Rivoluzione

In the heart of Palermo nightlife, surrounded by pubs and other meeting places, there's one of the biggest sculptures of the Genius, at the center of Piazza Rivoluzione.

3 - The Genius of the Vucciria

The Vucciria block, market during the day and another core of the nightlife in Palermo, hides a small niche in Vicolo Paterna, containing a statue of the Genius of Palermo, recently restored. 

4 - The Isnello Palace Genius

Of the 8 most important representations, the only painting can be found in the suggestive Isnello Palace in Corso Vittorio Emanuele, really close to another famous spot in Palermo, Piazza Pretoria. 

5 - The Pretorio Palace Genius

This sculpture, brought to light in 1596, is now displayed in the heart of the town's center, in one of the most renowned spots,  also known as the headquarter of the Municipality of Palermo: Pretorio Palace. 

6 - The Villa Giulia Genius

Realized in 1778, is perhaps the most  massive sculpture of the Genius, a few steps away from the Botanic Garden, in the elegant venue of Villa Giulia

7 - The mosaic in the Palatine Chapel

One of the most recent representations, dates back to the XIX century and can be found at the entrance of one of the most famous Unesco Heritage spots in Sicily: the Palatine Chapel inside the Norman Palace (Palazzo dei Normanni)

8 - The Genius of Villagrazia

Is the furthest and the most hard to find of the 8 geniuses. Dates back to the late 17th century and is placed outside Villa Fernandez, in Villagrazia block. 

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