Yes, Milan’s La Scala may have more seats, and La Fenice in la Venezia is more venerable by a century, but Palermo’s Teatro Massimo is easily the biggest in Italy, a sprawling, 83,000-square-foot, neo-romantic edifice that dominates the Sicilian capital’s antique skyline. In Europe, only L’Opéra in Paris and the State Opera in Vienna are bigger.
While part of Italy, Sicily really is a world apart. Midway between Africa and Europe in the middle of the Mediterranean, over the last 2,500 years it’s been ruled by Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, and Spaniards. Its complicated past makes it distinct — with spicier food, a more festive lifestyle, and people who are Sicilian first, Italian second. Italian Americans have a special bond with the island — almost one-third of all Italians who arrived in the U.S. between 1880 and 1930 were from Sicily..