At the Crack of 12:15 we met our tour group in Studio Sea. OK, so maybe 12:15 and crack don’t go together, but that’s when we met our group to start the first (official) tour of the trip. Out to the bus and we’re off into the vagaries of Palermo Traffic. On a scale of 1 to Paris, I give it an 8, which is surprising. I had heard that the Italian drivers made the Parisians look ordered. We’ll have to wait for Roma, I think.
Our bus was like the inside of a brick oven, and we were all glad when we pulled up to the Norman-Arabic palace that was our first stop. It was significantly cooler outside than on the bus.
The palace was once the center piece of the city, with gardens stretching to the sea. You can still see the ocean from the top floor, but only just. The gardens are being replanted after many years of neglect, and they are in the process of rebuilding the fountains also. The entire thing looks quite nice now, and will be likely be spectacular in a few years. About 850 years ago, with the help of the pope, the Normans managed to take Sicily away from its Arabian rulers. The new Norman king wanted a castle built, and the Arabic builders and artisans were the best people for the job, so the King’s direction on building a typical Norman castle, combined with the local architects and artisans created a hybrid architecture unique to the Island of Sicily. The Norman-Arabic style.
Unfortunately taking photos within the palace was prohibited so we don’t have any interiors. But we did luck out on the exit of the palace, where we found out that our bread oven of a bus had been changed out for one that actually worked. From that point on the bus was quite nice.
Our next stop was a wonderful church that has seen better days, but instead of fully repairing it they’ve left the roof off, put in a new floor, and use it for various shows still fully open to the sky.
The final stop of the day was the catacombs. A strange place where they originally dried and buried monks, then priests also, and finally anybody who could afford the service. Most of the people on display (ad there are hundreds, if not thousands) were dried and entombed in the 18th and 19th centuries. As I said, it’s a bit of a strange place, all full with dried out dead people, mostly just skin and bones now (a bit like some Hollywood parties I suppose).
All in all, a good day