Monte Pellegrino And The Port Of Palermo.

Monte Pellegrino And The Port Of Palermo.

Palermo, From The Harbor.

Palermo, From The Harbor.

Boating In Palermo Bay.

Boating In Palermo Bay.

While part of the remarkable fertility of this enchanting area is due to nature, much also is the result of the system of irrigation introduced here by the Saracens, who at the time of their conquest of the island had become past masters of that art. In fact, wherever their civilization spread along the Mediterranean, from Syria to Granada, the sun-parched, arid soil, vivified by the caress of running water, burst rapturously into bloom. Their method is now supplemented by the aid of modern science; and not alone are rivulets conducted hither from the neighboring mountains, but many shafts are sunk to a great depth below the surface, from which the subterranean water is brought copiously upward at the call of steam. We cannot wonder, therefore, that Palermo has been called for centuries "La Felice," or the Happy One; for certainly, if there be a city in the world which seemingly could have happiness for the asking, it is this child of the Phoenicians, protected by encircling mountains, fanned by ocean breezes, cooled by innumerable fountains, and slowly rising from the fleecy foam of the Mediterranean to rest upon La Conca d' Oro, like another sea-born Aphrodite on a couch of gold.

La Conca D' Oro.

La Conca D' Oro.

One Of The Four Corners.

One Of The " Four Corners".

One feels, however, a certain disillusion on landing in Palermo. What he admired at a distance was the gift of Nature. Compared with this, man's work - with two or three remarkable exceptions - has been insignificant. The ground-plan of the city is, approximately, that of a Greek cross. Its two great streets - the Corso Vittorio Emanuele and the Via Macqueda - intersect each other at right angles near the centre of the town, their point of meeting being popularly named "I Quattro Canti," or "The Four Corners." This is the heart of the Sicilian capital, and into it and out of it, through its connecting arteries, flows day and night the life-blood of Palermo.

Here one should station himself - in winter between four and five in the afternoon, in the spring and fall an hour later - to watch the passing of Palermo's aristocracy, as it goes to, or returns from, the Marina. Of course its representatives are in carriages. Sicilian ladies never walk; and as this daily drive is practically their only outdoor recreation, and is regarded also as a social function, the owning of an equipage here is as important as in Naples. Accordingly, the severest sacrifices are often made for this one luxury, and frequently the outward pageant covers bitter penury. Sometimes, in fact, two aristocratic families are forced by straitened circumstances to hire a carriage by the year in common, each household using it on alternate days. Few gentlemen show themselves on these occasions. The formal promenade appears to be a sort of ladies' matinee. Hence, after a time, this line of vehicles, tenanted so largely by the fair sex only, awoke in me a sentiment of pity. The hollowness and tedium of the affair, repeated every afternoon, combined with the undoubted poverty half concealed behind that threadbare mask of pleasure, were depressing. Unlike the young girls of the working class, these ladies, as a rule, looked delicate and languid; yet they possessed fine, aristocratic features and particularly lustrous eyes, which could, I fancy, flame, without much provocation, into the proverbial Sicilian passion. A much more animated scene presents itself when, finally, the carriages turn homeward, and many of their occupants descend en route to make their purchases in the brilliant shops. For then a number of such waiting vehicles line the streets, and ladies, seated in them or meeting one another between shop and curb, greet their acquaintances effusively, and chat with the vivacity characteristic of Italian manners.

The Via Macqueda.

The Via Macqueda.

Sicilian Working Girls.

Sicilian Working Girls.