Echoes of the Second World War still resound through the city of Palermo. The war meant not only an external destruction for the city but the vaporisation of an intricate network of communities built up over centuries. However, the post war Palermitan has ensured that anything of historical importance, of beauty, or cultural value that survived the bombing has since been eradicated.

The cause? Immediately after the dust settled, beginning in 1947 and continuing for the next twenty years, the city fell victim to a wave of vast overpopulation, rising from 300 to 800 thousand. This meant that 2/3 of that population migrated without any cultural or historical knowledge of the cities past, upsetting any chances of the repair and possible return of that once finely tuned community. The Mafia, released from prison after the American liberation of the island, once again reared its ugly head after its virtual termination under the reign of Mussolini. It took hold of the property market selling plots of land holding the cities cultural heritage, and building anywhere that would, or sometimes wouldn’t, hold a building. Meanwhile, the council sat silent.

It is this total disregard for its past that has led the city to its current state of disrepair, and the first steps are only just being taken to rectify the damage. It will take some time to restore the city to its former glory especially when funds set aside for restoration keep finding the wrong pockets.

Sicily is the most destructive of countries, overburdened by a past for which it has little respect. -Giuseppe di Lampedusa

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