Monreale is essentially a suburb of Palermo that is set on a hill with a lovely view of the city and the surrounding valley. While it is itself a lovely town, it is also the site of one of the area’s largest, grandstand most important cathedrals and a hugely popular tourist site.
Monreale’s Cattedrale di Monreale
William II built this spectacular, 12th-century Norman cathedral as a means of gaining favor from the populace. It is spectacular, with its:
- Main Cathedral with an amazing series of mosaics that illustrate the full cycles of both the Old and New Testaments (including Adam and Eve, Noah and the Arc, The Teachings of Christ and Jacob’s Ladder) and, above the altar, a huge mosaic renderings of Christ; altogether, 6,000 sq meters, the largest assemblage of mosaics around the Mediterranean.
- Entry with a line of Moorish-inspired arches that lead to two large-scale, bronze sculptures: one of William II holding out a model of the cathedral, and then, at the other end, one of Mary reaching out to accept the offering.
- 12th-century bronze door that illustrates 42 scenes from the bible;
- Monreale’s Lovely multicolored, tufa apse,
- Beautiful cloisters with tile-inlaid and carved columns and ornately carved capitals, each representing a biblical theme;
- Museum with a range of religious artifacts and symbols including a cardinal’s throne, silver altar, tapestries, and many other items
- Crucifix Chapel, a baroque-style chapel with a mixed marble polychrome inlaid floor, depictions of the Old Testament, an image of Jonah and the fish and an altar with a wooden cross and the descent of Christ.
Ciambra, a seafood-focused restaurant where we began with one of the regions specialties, Nordon anchovies with toast, butter, strawberries and mango. Tom followed with another local fish, grilled umbrine (croaker) on a bed of ratatouille (with celery, carrot, caper, onion and olive) and Joyce had busiata pasta with local Macara shrimp, zucchini cream and almonds. Although we already bought some tantalizing almond and pistachio pastries from a local bakery, we were too temped by one of Ciamra’s desserts (pistachio ice cream with white chocolate mousse) to pass up. We enjoyed all these dishes, along with a 2016 Terebinto Grillo (Sicily’s primary white varietal) from Planeta, a winery that just so happens to be on tomorrow’s schedule.
Palazzo Ducale Suites. Minutes walk from the cathedral in historic Monreale. Very comfortable room with a separate living room space. The gentleman at the desk went to the parking garage with us to get our luggage. He then arranged for us to park there all night for 20 euro. Very cute town. Hot pot in the room which is always a plus