Islands of the Western Mediterranean travel blog

Arched doorway clearly showing Arab influence

The fountain in the cloisters

The cloisters

I''m sure these tomatoes would be delicious

Tunisian eggplants

The Palatine Chapel

Bags packed and loaded onto the bus, we headed to Monreale, originally planned for the afternoon but there was to be a wedding in the church this afternoon. Our guide explained that September is a very busy month for weddings as it is when the feast of St Rosalie is celebrated.

Again this is a mix of the Norman and the Arab and the exterior clearly shows this mix. Inside the wonderful mosaics show a variety. Those around the altar are of the Byzantine style - more like icons.

The paintings on the inner area shownscenes from the Old Testament and show movement and dimension while those on the outer wall show scenes from the New Testament. It is very hard to describe the glory of these mosaics but I have bought a book which gives more detail. The attached cloisters again show the strong Arab influence in the pillars and a fountain in one corner contributes the sound. Originally it wa staffed with Benedictines.

Returning to our bus we were attracted to a stall selling granita in many flavours, unfortunately not the mulberry we'd been told was best but after tastings all round I had a lemon granita very refreshing.

Returning to Palermo we strolled through the he daily market where we sampled a chick pea fritter and admired the stalls of fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, herbs and spices.

A few of us took the advice of our guide and at a nearby cafe where the owner said she had just prepared a spaghetti dish; I couldn't get the name but it contained sardines and wild fennel, a typical Sicilian dish. It was delicious and also contained pine nuts and currants as well as Parmesan cheese.

One more stop for the day at the Royal Palce where we visited the Palatine Chapel. Describing it as a jewel box perhaps gives an idea of the beauty of this chapel, again a reflection of both the Arab and Norman traditions but on a smaller scales Gelato shop on thenway back to our bus gave us the chance to sample and refresh. I chose a hazelnut flavour.

Now in a hotel in Trapani which has many Italian speakers staying and I wonder if it is some sort of club gathering. Another buffet meal with wine accessed from taps attached to small metal tanks.

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