Palermo, Sicily, Italy

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Galleria Regionale della Sicilia

Top choice in Palermo

Housed in the stately 15th-century Palazzo Abatellis, this art museum – widely regarded as Palermo's best – showcases works by Sicilian artists dating from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. One of its greatest treasures is Trionfo della morte (Triumph of Death), a magnificent fresco (artist unknown) in which Death is represented as a demonic skeleton mounted on a wasted horse, brandishing a wicked-looking scythe while leaping over his hapless victims.

Represented at the heart of the painting, under Death's horse, are the vain and pampered aristocrats of Palermo, while the poor and hungry look on from the side. The huge image, carefully restored, has been given its own space on the ground level to maximise its visual impact.

The gallery is full of countless other treasures, which collectively offer great insight into the evolution of Sicilian art. Among these is Antonello da Messina's enigmatic 15th-century masterpiece L'Annunciata (Virgin Annunciate), with its refined balance of Italian and Flemish influences.

The exhibition space itself was designed to fill this gorgeous Catalan Gothic palazzo in 1957 by Carlo Scarpa, one of Italy's leading architects.

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