Today we headed to Monreale in a taxi to see the Duomo and the view of Palermo from the hill often referred to as the Conca d’Oro. We booked a taxi and he managed to up sell us from a 30 euro ride to Monreale to an 80 euro tour including the catacombs, Monreale and the city of Palermo. We thought this was good value. A win win!
Our first stop after our fairly unmentionable breakfast was catacombe dei cappuccini. We arrived in a parking piazza outside the catacombs with our driver Michael who directed us. We paid our 3 euro each and proceeded. I had no idea of what to expect. The display of dead people on postcards should have alerted me. There are 8000 mummified bodies down in these underground crypts, lined up on each side of the walls staring at you in certain poses and dressed. It was like something out of a horror movies. David and Thomas were fairly matter of fact about it even though I did see the more sensitive side of Thomas pause. Kate was like me and freaked. All we could do was to look down and walk quickly through to the nearest exit shuddering at how eerie it was. It was wrong and it shouldn’t be on display. Dead people should be left alone. Apparently it was built do family members could visit and even hold hands with their dead loved ones. I refused to even look at the children. Too sad even.
We found our driver, Michael, waiting outside. The next stop was up the hill to Monreale. It was a scenic drive through Palermo and up the hill.
At the top we parked in the Piazza with what David thought was a mafia meeting place…..I think more men waiting for their women to come out of church so they can have lunch. The Duomo was spectacular. There was a church service happening but we were allowed in to take some photos. The ceiling and wall mosaics were just spectacular with the centre Christ Pantocrator mosaic. Amazing workmanship….a labour of love, time and patience depicting the old testament. The duomo is wonderful example of Norman Sicily completed by Sicilian and Byzantine artists. The beautiful interstellar walls are made of Tufa and marble. Inside is the royal the tomb of William II. The bronze entrance door is just divine.
We took some great shots of the city of Palermo and then returned to our hotel to decide on lunch. So far Palermo has been very different to the rest of Italy. The people are friendlier and the Sicilian food is great. Traffic is a bit more organized as well.
Lunch was a mix of trying to find a Trip Advisor high rated restaurant and the closest one. We managed to find a place that had something for everyone, Baciamo le mani. Concealed windows…..a place where maybe people do not want anyone to know they are there!
Back to the hotel as we are all a bit tired. David is having a massage later while Kate and Thomas watch some TV and I have a snooze and catch up on my blog.