The Genius of Palermo is a particular figure. He has the beard of an old man but with the body of a young boy. He wears a crown and a snake in its arms that bites his chest.
The image of the Genius of Palermo can be found all over Palermo. The most important Genius of Palermo statues are in the Vucciria market, at Villa Giulia, and in Piazza della Rivoluzione.
Most of the statues of the Genius of Palermo also bear the the following Latin phrase: "Panormus conca aurea suos devorat alienos nutrit," which literally means "Palermo, the golden land, eats its own people and feeds foreign people." The most famous interpretation of this phrase is that the city of Palermo is a benevolent place but forsakes it citizens.
Most of the people here in Palermo consider the Genius to be a pagan symbol that protects our city and it is celebrated, along with Santa Rosalia, who is our religious protector.
Another theory says that the Genius's snake represents fertility and capacity for renewal of the city of Palermo. This emphasizes the ability of the Genius to create something new from the consumption of the city of Palermo.
The Genius statue in Piazza della Rivoluzione found a special role during the riots of 1848 when it became the symbol of Palermo's desire for freedom and emancipation from the Bourbon rule. During that time, people would gather around the statue and drape it in the protest flag.