Old favorites, new favorites, and fireworks!
Palermo Travel Blog› entry 5 of 26 › view all entries
The street concert raged on again last night, until just after . Rob was so tired that he was falling asleep despite this and I had earplugs so, it really wasn’t a problem.
Rob got up and showered, allowing me another 30 minutes of sleep. I was up and ready shortly after. We had our tasty morning pastries that Giorgio had left for us and some orange juice.
I had ambitious plan for the day so, we needed to get moving as I had already slowed us down by 30 minutes. The problem with sightseeing in
So, out first stop was to be the Palazzo Abatellis, but on the way we were walking past Santa Maria della Ammiraglio and saw that it was open. It is locally known as La Martorana in memory of Eloisa della Martorana, founded the nearby Benedictine convent. It had been closed the previous day and was a must as I had been here last time. It is probably my favorite church in
La Martorana, along with several groups of elderly tourists.
I have spoken about this church in my June 2009 blog and now visiting it a second time, I still feel that it is just fantastic. Mosaic tiles and rich frescoes cover every inch of ceiling, walls, and columns. I for a second time, now, I took many detailed shots of elements of this space that call to me. Every scene pulls me into its rich history and tells me the story that the artist wants me to know. The whole interior is like a book with its many chapters, all deserving a second look for there is always something more to discover. I had taken many, many shots but had been unable to take some wide angle shots due to the large crowd. We decided to leave and come back after the Palazzo. Upon leaving we discover that Santa Caterina’s doors are open. I’m really excited now.
So, we continue to Palazzo. It would be the farthest distance for the day and everything else would be closer. We reach it only to find out that it was closed for renovation and would reopen in November. Giorgio tells us that they have been pushing the reopening date forward for 6 months.
So, disappointed, we decided to visit a large Baroque church that we had passed on the way. If is of classic Baroque style but is very grand in scale. It has a large round window in the center (with sunburst detail) of the upper section that has detail that I’ve never seen in baroque.
I was particularly taken with the wall of relics. I have seen many relics enshrined in bejeweled objects but, this was a huge wall section. At the bottom was saint and it was obviously a wax head but, the hands and feet seemed to show real bones we think. The wall had 28 different sections with “relics” from saints.
On either corner of the altar, there where statues that made the rounds when it was time for religious festivals.
The rear of the church, usual less ornate was striking in a different way. It has a large gilded fan grate that runs from the top of the mouldings to the round ceiling with decorative grates in sections below in between the white and gilded panels. The church had no plaque with the name on it and I have been unable to find the name on the internet.
Now back to La Martorana and getting my wide angle shots of the church. As we walked up, there were clouds moving in and the buildings looked more dramatic so I took a few more shots.
When I walked up the stairs to Santa Caterina across the street to get the shot, I noticed that its doors were open.
Once inside, I was astounded. The Baroque splendor of the previous church pales in comparison and that’s really hard to do. The level of detailing moved up the scale by a factor of 5, at least. Each of the columns had panels on the bottom sections with beautiful stories told in relief, in amazing detail. There were many crystal chandeliers and one large wooden chandelier hanging from the center dome.
A short walk across the piazza and we were back at La Martorana but, first I went to get some shots from the other side of La Cataldo. While getting a few shots, Rob noticed people walking funneling into the area along the left side of it. I had been here before and knew of nothing there so, we had to investigate. OMG, the doors to La Cataldo were open.
The church is small simple with no painted frescoes or mosaics but, warm and intimate. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I will cherish the visit. There windows have an orthodox similarity to them with circles but there are also, stars and crosses. It is very creative for 1000 years old. The floor has a fantastic design in mosaics that is original to the build. They had a pendant of the special cross and a medallion with the cross on one side and San Cataldo on the other. I bought one of each as they are quite unique. I took a picture of the crosses on the front door. There is a cross with a cross in each corner. It reminds me of the flag of
It had started to sprinkle while we were inside and it seemed to be picking up so we held out a bit under the bell tower.
We needed to get moving as we wanted to go to Cappella Palatina which would open, again at . It was now just after and we were hungry for lunch. Rob had found a recommendation and we were in search of Trattoria Shanghui. We headed through Piazza Bellini past the fountain and down Corso Vittorio Emmanuele to the Via Roma. We ducked down a staircase onto a side street which should have lead us to the restaurant. We discovered a street market and a street under reconstruction. Rob thought we needed to take that street but was not happy about walking the rough street. We took the one parallel to it through the market and ended up at the Piazza Domenico. Frustrated Rob decided we needed to go back down the market street to reach the intended eatery.
We were seated close to the entrance and ordered our food. As we discussed the rest of the day the need to buy stamps and send the postcards came up. Rob volunteered to go to the post office which was really close while we waited for the food to come. He headed out and I stayed and reviewed the books. My appetizer (ricotta wrapped in eggplant strips and breadcrumbs) came while he was gone and it was delicious. When he got back out pasta course came and we were both very happy with it. I had a simple pasta with pomodoro fresco.
We retraced our path down the market street to the Via Roma and then on to Vittorio Emmanuele. Along the way I glanced down a side street and saw a georgous tiled dome of a church. I took a picture and we moved on. Before we went to the Cappella Palatina, I wanted to check and see if my tower with the great views was open. We walked to the Piazza Normanni and saw someone in the tower. I was ecstatic and headed off like a shot.
We got to the tower and the man taking the money fitted us with hardhats and explained we only got to go up in the tower and not the church or gardens. I put on my hat on easily as I had hit my head on the previous visit. On the way up there were some pretty low points. I managed to bang my head (thank goodness for the hat) a few times. Rob managed to avoid it. When we emerged into the bell tower I was still amazed by the view. I was so happy that I had made it here, again. It was a highlight of my previous trip. Up there I felt like I was one with the city as I looked over it. You can see all the way to Monte Pelligrino and along the coast. Luckily the clouds had cleared and we had great opportunities for pictures. In one direction Rob noticed some aviaries in a park.
We headed back up the hill to the Palazzo Normani, where we thought the entrance to the Cappella Palatina is located. We were wrong. A sign explained that accessible form Piazza Independince. We headed around through the Porta Nuevo. Once we passed through I noticed the other side of the gate had the statues that were pictured in the book. We would get pictures later. It was starting to rain as we got to the entrance of Cappella Palatina. There was tour bus full of people in line to enter. We managed to get the tickets for a fee of 8.50 euros each and head up ahead of the crowd.
The book weighed a lot so we headed back to the room to drop it and our other purchases off and get umbrellas as it was still raining off and on. We felt better after resting for a few minutes and were off to the Palermo Cathedral.
We entered the main hall and bought tickets. First stop was the rare tombs. Here are the remains of Emperor Henry VI, his son Frederick II, as well as those of Peter II of Sicily. A Roman sarcophagus is the tomb of Constance of Aragon, Frederick's wife.
The treasury was next. It contains goblets, vestments, monstrances, a 14th century breviary and the famous Crown of Constance of Sicily, a golden tiara found in her tomb in 1491
After the treasury we were going to the crypts and could hear the rain outside. We could also feel it in the tower room we were in as the roof was obviously not watertight. Just as I was getting ready to snap a picture there was a crackle of thunder and then the lights went out. We waited around for them to be restored and then headed down to the crypts.
After this we wondered around the main cathedral. It is not richly adorned and is mostly monochromatic and a soothing color.
Exhausted we headed back towards the room via the Porta Nuevo to get pictures. It was still raining. We braved the traffic to get the pictures and then headed on to the room.
Food in hand,we headed upstairs and chatted with Giorgio for a little bit while we ate. Then I began work on the blog and Rob read his book, helping when I needed it.
We went out with Giorgio and a guy form
Giorgio drove us back to the guest house and we were happy and shocked not to hear music. That didn’t last for long as I began to work on the pictures and blog for the day, the noise started again. At around and again at there were massive amounts fireworks set off. It was amazing that a street party had the funds for such a thing.
We had to get up early the next morning.
I knew that, at least at Claudia’s there would be quiet and I would have a more restful sleep.