Night location: Palermo
Mumisode of the day: While on the Sacred tour of Palermo, Dad lead the group down a range of seedy back streets following his iPad. The streets were characterised by trash, open rubbish skips, scaffolding, overgrown gardens and human excrement. Mum coped surprisingly well until she trod squarely into what we hope was dog poo and then she cracked it and shouted, "Can you lead us onto a proper path with a bit of space!"
Due to the extensive breakfast provisions we decided to get up early so as to enjoy the range of delicacies at our leisure before being driven up to Monreale. The gates to the cathedral were being opened as we arrived and so we were able to enjoy the serenity for over half an hour before the tour groups started piling in. This cathedral has been the major reason why we have chosen to return to Sicily with Mum and Dad. In 2014 we were all captivated by the detailed beauty of this church and as Dad is a devotee of cathedrals, both Gemma and Amber were determined to bring him here. Mum and Dad had read the Monreale coffee table book purchased in 2014 in preparation for their visit. Interestingly their expectations were exceeded by the spectacular luminescence of the gold mosaics and the biblical representations that adorn the walls. A stunning feature is the glittering geometric patterns that cover the floor and are panelled down the walls, each one unique. We spent over an hour just appreciating the sense of unity and collaboration between the cultures and faiths represented here.
Leaving the cathedral that was rapidly being filled with paddle lead tourismos, we walked to the cloister and once again enjoyed the quietude by ourselves. The soft tinkling of the fountain added to the reverential air and we spent time moving slowly around the central garden admiring the columns that were uniquely decorated with glittering mosaic tiles.
Gareth lead Mum, Dad and Gemma on the climb to the terrace that overlooked the cloister and further up the bell tower to the stunning panorama overlooking Palermo. Amber and David remained in the cloister and took a photo of the others on their way up.
Following a coffee, the group split and while Mum, Dad, Gemma and Gareth explored the Palatine Chapel, Amber and David went to the Theatro Massimo to begin their walk back to the apartment. On their way they stopped in a quiet piazza and enjoyed a spectacular long lunch at a slow food restaurant.
The Palatine Chapel resonated with the splendour of Monreale with its detailed gold mosaics and honeycombed roof. Mum and Dad were once again captivated by the unique amalgam of artistic styles and world views. Following this visit, Columbus (Dad) lead the way on 'Il Circuito del Sacro' ('The Route of the Sacred'), to three oratorios (monastery chapels) that were located in some back derelict streets of Palermo. From the outside they appeared to have been unopened for at least 100 years, however inside were impressive sculptures, paintings and seats inlaid with mother of pearl.
Gemma was lured into a tourismo trap by the promise of falafel, however instead of chickpeas they were filled with fish! Learning of Amber and David's delicious lunch only added salt to the wound! She is determined to go somewhere very nice for dinner!