Palermo Underground

Visits to Catacombe of Porta D’Ossuna

At certain times of the year, you can take part in guided tours with an aperitif or music show at the Paleoccal Catacombs of Porta D’Ossuna. It is one of the most important Christian underground cemeteries in Sicily, with cubicles, galleries and splendid early Christian frescoes dating back to the 4th century and new testamentaries, making the catacomb a unique case in Sicily together with the reality of Syracuse.


These are channels that, following the particular shape of the ground and the crumbling morphology of the rock, were constructed to bring water to the surface by intercepting the natural terrain.

This technique of Persian origin was performed by special professionals called muqanni. Even though we refer to all as Qanat, there are actually several qanat in Palermo of different periods along a large time span that departs from Arab domination and reaches the end of Norman domination, which they learned a lot from their predecessors.

In the itinerary organized by Palermo Cultour you will visit the Qanat Gesucco Alto, an ancient water channel that develops in the subsoil of the Altarello district, at the bottom of Micciulla valley of the springs of Gabriele. You will visit part of the underground tunnel, immersed in the water, accompanied by CAI speleologists guides, who will provide their equipment. It travels for about 60 minutes within the qanat on an almost flat path, with constant presence of about 50 centimeters of water coming from the springs along the path. The oldest tunnels, now no longer traversed by water, are excavated at 8 meters deep from the countryside, while the latest ones at 16 meters are excavated in quarzarenite.


3 TURNI: HOURS 19.00 – 20.00 – 21.00

We recommend sportswear and a change of pants and socks.

Given the particular nature of the excursion we remind all participants that the tour is:

  • closed number;
  • compulsory booking;
  • advance payment not later than 3 days before the date of the excursion;

At the time of booking, indicate NAME, SURNAME, DATE and BIRTH PLACE for insurance purposes, otherwise booking can not be validated. COST 16 € – (ALL INCLUDED: CAI insurance, rental equipment, transfer service from the meeting point, speleological guide and refreshment)


N.B. However, it is possible to make tours on a non-calendar date for groups of up to 20 pax, specifying the number of participants and the date.

For lower groups, a new estimate is required for the association, specifying the date and number of participants (including children).





In this itinerary we will discover one of the most fascinating underground treasures in Palermo: the Paleochristian catacombs of Porta D’Ossuna, discovered in 1739 but dating back almost two thousand years ago, first cemetery, then one of the privileged accesses to the streets of Palermo under the was set the novel “I Beati Paoli” by Luigi Natoli, and finally anti-aircraft shelter during World War II. The funeral kit present in the catacomb of Porta d’Ossuna has remained almost nothing, only an inscription referring to a little girl, found in the 18th century and now housed within the Regional Archaeological Museum “Antonio Salinas”.


Then from the Piazza della Memoria, dedicated to the magistrates assassinated by the mafia, we will go to the Market of Capo, one of the most characteristic of the city, towards the Serenary Palace and “Torre Albamonte”, according to the description of Natoli in the novel by I Beati Paoli, the residence of noble Raimondo Duke of Motta. According to the writer, the underground Palermo in which the Blessed Paoli were secretly moving and meeting secretly lies under the Cape district’s precision in a latticework of caves and caves belonging to an ancient Christian necropolis, now completely buried by construction and of which remains access to the Catacombs of Porta D’Ossuna, located between the church of Santa Maruzza and the Orfani Lane Grotto, which we will visit together. The Church of Santa Maruzza del Canceddi takes its name from the 17th-century Congregation of the Bear-Bearers Congregation carrying merchandise in large buses called “canceddi”. Underneath the church there is a large crypt with an altar for funeral rites, and behind the main altar there is a “secret passage”, which led directly to the Grotto of the Blessed Paoli, an ancient chamber of the sirocco coming to light a few years during urban consolidation work, and that in the novel has been identified as the tribunal of the homonymous sect. At the time of Natoli, this cave had to be known and accessible, and we will visit it also following the passages of the novel. The tour will continue with the visit to the ancient quarter of Guilla, a semi-unknown area of ​​Palermo that encloses some characteristic places such as the Curcuma Garden and one of the few traces of Punta Mura still visible. From here you will arrive at Piazza Sett’Angeli (just behind Palermo Cathedral), where we will look at the Roman mosaics on the road that have just returned to light and where our tour will end.


MORNING DEPARTURE (when expected): BAR MAEVA – 9:30 PM