Sunday 20 September 2015

This morning we head north again driving across the island to reach Palermo which is the capital of the island.

Our first visit is to the Mirto Palace – there is a description here which betters my own photos which can be found here.  Exquisite furnishing and decorations abound, the leather lined fumoir was probably an improvement on the current arrangements forcing people out of doors!  Wonderful collections of china of which I suspect only representative samples are on display and needless to say some glorious chandeliers.  We shall see other evidence of past wealth in Sicily on the remainder of the trip.

We move onto the Royal Palace and the stunning Palatine Chapel.  The craftsmanship is simply stunning and my photos simply do not do the place justice.  There is a Wikipedia article here.  We also visited the apartments but photos were not permitted.

Next stop is the Cathedral and we manage to gain entry only to be advised that it is lunchtime and man in charge rather sharply instructs us all to leave – the only time I believe when we see evidence of Sicilian hostility – but he is entitled to his lunch hour and we to ours.  Into town and we manage a rather large pizza!  Some of the architecture is captured.

Back on the coach and a sleep whilst our driver heads a little south to Monreale and our third church of the day – well it is Sunday!  The cathedral here is of Norman origin – and this is from the time when in 1072 the Normans had claimed the island – a war had commenced in 1061 and the island did not finally become Norman controlled until 1086 with the fall of Syracuse – 25 years against one battle in Hastings in 1066 to take control of England!  Those muslims must have been far tougher!  And the island returned to Christianity.  Monreale became the seat of Christian power.  It is less decorated than the places seen earlier in the day so was from that viewpoint not as fascinating.  Photographs can be found here.

The day is far from over as we head along the northern edge of Sicily to Cefalu and book into another hotel.  Our room has a rather unwelcome odour and a request for it to be resolved whilst we are at dinner is made.

Dinner is in the town centre in a dining room over looking the raging sea.  Whilst we are in the restaurant (Kentia) a huge storm is taking place outside – thunder, lightning and strong winds and rain.  Food is pretty good as well – although in common with the other places chosen by the tour operators we are on a set menu and our food does not quite measure up to the standards we see being delivered to other tables.

Luckily the weather abates slightly before we have to walk back up the hill to the coach; so we return to the hotel damp – but not wringing wet.

The odour has worsened and would prevent sleep so after the phone is put down on a complaint my wife goes to reception and returns after about 20 minutes and we have to move to another room in an annexe, which means crossing the road.  So cases reloaded we head out and when we reach the road my wife cannot remember where to go – so at close to midnight we are lost in the middle of the road!  Eventually she divines our destination and we get indoors and get ready for bed.

Just before we get into bed another vast downpour commences and the noise of the rain on the roof is almost deafening.  Somehow we manage to sleep.