Looking back

Tita, our guide and protectress!
Not even two months have passed since we returned from Sicily, but it seems much longer. I thought I would post a few images to remind us of our adventure. How about that first day?

It was a marathon, but at a sprint. We toured a large part of Palermo and visited the cathedral in Monreale, with our guide Tita leading the way.

First stop, the Norman Palace and
its stunning chapel.

Cappella Palatina, Palace of Normans, Palermo

The inner courtyard of the palace, where we arrived just in time to gain admittance to the diminutive chapel ahead of a busload of children. 

The intricatively carved  ceilings of the chapel  clearly signal the work of craftsmen from North Africa.

Before strolling down to the Quattro Canti, where the four neighborhoods of old Palermo meet, we needed to stop for a quick tutorial. (You can see that Happi still hasn't given up on the 'whispers'! )

One of the four corners of Quattro Canti, and (below) the Pretoria Fountain, which Goethe so detested, but we rather enjoyed. 

La Martorana, Palermo

At the fountain we discovered that La Martorana, around the corner from the fountain, and long closed for restoration, had finally reopened, so we paid a visit to King Roger II (the first Norman king of Sicily). In this famous mosaic, he is being crowned by Christ, not the Pope. A close up reveals an odd blend of Latin with Greek letters (Ρογέρος Ρηξ).

Then it was off to Monreale and the cathedral dedicated to Mary of the Assumption, built by King William II to compete with Palermo's cathedral, the seat of power of the bishop Gualtiero Offamiglia ("Walter of the Mill").

The North African elements on the outside of the apse of the cathedral are hard to miss.


Noah figures large in the golden mosaics of Monreale, as in this depiction of his covenant with God.

At the top,  God is separating the waters, earth, and heavens.
Adjacent to the cathedral are cloisters, almost lovely enough to draw you to the monastic life—almost! 

Each column in the cloister is topped by a unique carving.

That was just our first (jet-lagged) day. We certainly earned a rest that evening. 

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