The beach of Mondello is located in the homonymous district and tourist resort of Palermo which is part of the VIII District, enclosed by Monte Pellegrino and Monte Gallo. Detached from the city by the Parco della Favorita, it can be reached by means of the many royal tree-lined avenues or by secondary links.
The area is renowned for its beach, which is one of the most coveted beaches in Sicily, for its numerous Art Nouveau villas, known as the best expression of Art Nouveau in Italy, and for sites of historical interest. It is home to the World Festival on the Beach. In this locality, in 1975 the Mondello Prize was born, a literary festival today organized by the Sicily Foundation together with the Turin International Book Fair.
The Art Nouveau villas characterize the architecture of the place, making it an important point of reference for the history of international modernism. These buildings (many by the famous architect Ernesto Basile) are among the best examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Italy and in Europe.
Mondello has many accommodation facilities, numerous nautical clubs and exclusive clubs, restaurants, shops, a marina and an ancient bathing establishment, one of the symbolic monuments of the city. In the summer period various services are offered, for example, on the hiring of cabins or on passes for access to private parts of the beach. Through various ordinances, Mondello should be made into a pedestrian zone by closing off the main road along the beach to traffic.
History of Mondello
Before the Arabs
In the two centuries of Arab domination, Mondello was known as Marsa ‘at Tin (in Italian Porto del Fango, due to the marshy features of a good part of the land). In the extreme northern part of the gulf a small fishing village was created, of which there are still some historical evidences: in the central square there is still in fact the port of Mondello and the two ancient towers (located respectively in the town square and in one area located further north, where today the center called “La Torre” rises, which in the fifteenth century became guard towers of the “Fico d’India”, assuming a central role for the warning system of the coastal towers of Sicily.
The historian Michele Amari in his work Storia dei Musulmani in Sicilia refers, on the basis of a chronicle of the time, that after the Islamic takeover of Palermo (831) precisely in the area of Mondello, ten Byzantine ships would have landed with the intent – then nullified – to regain the city.
Land reclaimed in the 1800s
For about two centuries the Gulf of Mondello remained a marshy area, until 1891, when the reclamation work of the so-called “quagmire” began, thanks to the intervention of Prince Francesco Lanza of Scalea, senator of the kingdom. Following the drainage of the marshy waters, a project to exploit these lands began, with the aim of transforming them into a new outlet for the city of Palermo.
Evolution of Mondello
The areas in which the quagmire was present were restored, and the process of expansion and evolution started in the eighth century continued. From 1912 onwards, Mondello became the seat of the upper middle class and the nobility of the city, followed by the construction of numerous exclusive and noble circles, the construction of lush villas and the enhancement of gardens and natural beauties. King Ferdinand of Bourbon called it “a corner of earthly paradise”.
World Festival on the Beach
Since 1985 Mondello has been the site of the Windsurf World Festival, renamed the 2001 World Festival on the Beach, the event that annually brings together various sporting events (windsurfing, sailing, kite, beach volleyball, etc.), and musical shows that, for their international connotation, they transform the town into a village of extraordinary interest. The festival is organized by the Albaria club, known internationally thanks to the event itself and to some successes achieved by the members.
The sports program mainly includes sailing and windsurfing competitions for four classes, including the now famous Windsurfer Legend Race, a competition on a slalom course reserved for continental and world champions, the two European Championships (respectively the Tecno 293 and the Open RS: X) and the regional Windsurf Sicily Grand Prix regatta. National fencing, wave surfing, beach volleyball, kayaking, swimming and running meetings are also held during the week. A noteworthy importance is also dedicated to the performances of Kitesurfing, Wakeboard, Air Show (with the Blue Circe Patrol), Seaplanes and to the kite choreography. In recent editions, a SUP (Stand Up Paddle) meeting has been set up, an emerging global sport mainly practiced in the Hawaiian Islands.
A central role is also given to artistic and cultural activities: in fact there are numerous photographic concerts and contests, which take place during the week. Since 2004 a classical music concert has been organized on an auditorium by the sea, called “Sinfonia on the Beach”.
Thanks to the collaboration with CETRI (European Center of the Third Industrial Revolution), research for clean energy resources is supported during the festival and a thematic area has been inserted to raise awareness among young people on issues related to the environment and renewable energy. The slogan is “More sport .. More music .. More energy for a better world.