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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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October 27, 2014

Saturday - more pictures, less verbiage

All right, first of all I've taken some pictures of my very modern hotel and the view from the terrace  it also is very reasonable for being in the city.  The host and hostess - it's a B and B - are very nice and helpful and breakfast is delivered to my room each morning.






So, you can see from the commode that it is a very modern room.  I have to confess - I've never seen an oblong commode and they take a little getting used to.  The shower is very modern also and I had to ask for help on how to use the hand-held part.

My weird little guidebook "Step by Step in Sicily" is all either walks or car trips throughout Sicily.  For Palermo, they have two walking tours and Saturday, I did the major part of the western one which was quite major, really.  The two big name sites I saw were the Capella Palatine, the Teatro Massimo - Palermo's opera house, and the Cathedrale.  They were all spectacular in their own way and I may make the mile or so walk back to Teatro Massimo and pay to see the inside.  So in reverse order, here are the pictures I have, starting with Teatro Massimo.  It is beautiful and is the third largest in either Italy or Europe (I can't remember which at this point).



Two gorgeous lions...
 This one was camera shy - I took lots of shots before I got a useable one.
And good, ol' Guiseppe Verdi - an Italian favorite apparently even though there have been plenty of other Italian composers.

And an this side, there's this pretty little round addition that I didn't even know was there til I got there.  A gorgeous building. And below is a little bitty thing - there are two of them out on the pavement in front of the Teatro Massimo and back in the day, they were where you bought your tickets for the opera.  Designed by an architect and everything.  And even with all the signage and junk, they're still pretty special.


And looking through the Teatro Massino's lovely fence, past a lovely lamppost to a lovely building across the street...reminiscent of Paris.
So moving on, I come to the Quatra Centro - where two main (and very busy) thoroughfares, Via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuelle bisect the city into four quarters.  And I took a picture of each corner.




 Took this one because I thought she was pretty and deserved a close-up.  And the one below I took because there were no cars or people!!!  And I liked the horse and carriage centered as it was.

Walked and walked and walked some more and all of a sudden, set back from the street so you don't notice it coming is the Cattedrale e Tesoro.  That's where I was headed but to come upon it like that is kind of breathtaking.
The building is mammoth - just seems to go on and on.  And beautifully located without tons of trinket vendors surrounding it.  Don't know how they manage that. I want you to know I weeded out many pictures so as you wade through the following many inside and outside pics of the Cattedrale, just remember that.



 A room lined with various reliquaries I would assume from various saints.


 And they are guarded by this beautiful iron gate.
 Amazingly enough, this was a side chapel altar, not the main altar.

And these many pictures below are inlaid marble representations of all the signs of the zodiac.  There was an Italian sign explaining it but I thought I remembered reading that one of the builders of the cathedral, with rare wisdom, wanted the church to incorporate all the various religions that were found in Palermo/Sicily due to all the invasions and conquerors different religions.  However, I got into a nice conversation with a small group of Italians who spoke very good English and they said that the sign explained that going as they do in a diagonal line right across the front of the sanctuary, the sun hit them in such a way that they basically followed the calendar, I guess.  Not sure I understand how that would work - maybe just on one particular day of the year or something, like Stonehenge.  Anyway, I thought they were interesting and pretty so, yes, I took a picture of each one.



















Then back outside for a few more.  This first one is a "float" that is used during the celebration of whatever saint is Palermo's saint, I think.  That would be Santa Rosario if I remember right,  The cities and villages here have huge festivities for their patron saints with floats, parades, fireworks, etc.


Walking down the street above which runs alongside the cathedral, I came across this side entrance (below).

And no, I don't know who he is, but I got a good shot of his headgear below.
So that was the cathedral.  Next, pant, pant, I headed towards the Capo - Palermo's large open-air market.  Saw the little thingie below on my way and thought it was pretty delightful.

.I was really wearing down a little and I'm sure anyone looking at all of this is also.  But there's still more.

I wandered around a bit but I finally found my way to the market and it was great, as they all seem to be.  And this one didn't seem to have so many flies.  I always wonder how the residents of the town who buy their fish and such at these markets survive eating it because being the sanitary-trained American I am, I can't imagine buying and eating fish that has had flies crawling around on it.  Of course, I suppose the cooking takes care of any problems because that's what the people here do and there are a lot of people here, so apparently death doesn't overtake them at the first bite.
 The picture above is of a bird's wing!  I asked what bird it was since it is really large but the name he said meant nothing to me.  But it's from one big bird,.
 Lots and lots of olives...
 I'm assuming mussels and you can see one sticking his head out near the front.  I saw some spouting out water too, but couldn't catch them at it.
 Those aren't big eggs, they're incredibly fresh and perfect mushrooms.
I also had on my agenda to visit the Capella Palatine so I started out in search of that.  Somehow in Sicily at least the little bit I've visited, maps and such aren't quite as much help as you wish they would be.  Of course that could possibly be because a lot of the streets don't have signage and it seems like a lot of the ones that do are small enough that the maps don't show them.  Sigh...But I got there.  I still don't understand the whole set-up.  There is the Palazzo Reale which has been the center of power since Byzantine times and is now the seat of the Sicilian parliament and various government departments.  And as my guidebook says, the Christians razed the Roman fort, the Arabs imposed a Moorish castle, the Normans remodeled that which was later embellished by the Spanish.  Not much remains of its days as a palace for the Arabs and Normans, apparently, but the Capella Palatine, which was built for Roger II (from what I've read, a very wise ruler who allowed all the various previous religions to continue practicing their religion and employed artisans from all creeds to contribute to buildings, art, etc). between 1130 and 1140.  Every available surface is covered with mosaics, a lot of them gold covered.  It is absolutely stunning and I have no idea why I would bother taking pictures but I did because how could I not?  Again, according to the book, the mosaics "represent the fusion of Byzantine, Arab, Norman and Sicilian civilizations.  Greek, Latin and early Arabic script adorn the walls and capitals, a reminder of the languages of the Norman court."  And I know I said "not much verbiage" but I'm real impressed with this man Roger considering he ruled 900 some years ago and in some respects did better than our rulers today.  So here are my pictures and just try to imagine seeing it all at once top to bottom, side to side, glittering and sparkling as you turn and turn.
I liked this fountain/statue (although I don't know who he is) and I liked the sky.  I do know he was one of the multitudinous conquerors and my guess would be he was one of the Norman ones.  I did manage to remember that I read those are prisoner/slaves surrounding him (and sort of looking up his skirt thing if you ask me)

This is the Palazzo Reale.  And it does have a Norman look to it.  It certainly is big!
And this is a big "porta" although I couldn't find a name for it.  It's quite decorative inside and wait til you see the other side after I walked through it trying to find the Capella Palatine.
Liked all the different surfaces on this trim around the other side's opening.
And how about this?  Took a bunch of pictures - none satisfactory and finally noticed there were "island markings" out in the middle of the road so out I went and stood smack dab in the middle of the street and am quite happy with this photo. Made it original size so you could see all the faces and such.
The courtyard of the Royal Apartments and the following pictures are from those few rooms they have open to the public.  It was a little strange because I think the majority of this area (and the rest of the building) is government space.  Maybe not - I just didn't understand the setup.
 And having a soft spot for Archimedes after my long journey to his "maybe" tomba, I was delighted to see this rendering of the man.  Certainly a handsome and thoughtful looking guy.

 This is the ceiling of the tower.
And this is one part of one flight of the monumental staircase mentioned in the sign above.

And now we're in the Capella Palatine - still in the same building - in fact the entry is in one of those balcony levels and there's a picture of the entry further on.  There are a lot of probably fairly repetitious pictures.

A carved, painted and gilded wood ceiling.

More wood ceiling of a different style



Just pure ornamentation...

These several borders ran all along the walls.
Are you remembering - all mosaic, no paint?

This gives a good idea of the shine of the gold as the light hits it.
And finally, at the end, the entrance.  Guess we'll just call it the exit! :)

And basically, after an entire day of walking, I died upon arrival at my room.  Just had strength later to go out for something to eat and wine, came back and slept like a log!  And now I must sleep again because I'm supposed to be at the airport bus stop by 6 tomorrow morning.

I'm not going to proof this - so please forgive any glaring errors,


7 comments:

Christopher said...

Wow, that chapel is really something else! I'd brave the Sicilian heat to go see that someday...! What a grand, baroque city it appears to be! Safe travels home...!
Love,
-Chris

Anonymous said...

Mary Lynne, amazing travels as always. You continue to be my hero when it comes to Italian adventures!

Lisa in WV

Diane Adams said...

Really gorgeous pics and I didn't notice any mistypes.

Chinch said...

Been rather worried about you so happy to have this long report and am impressed you had the energy to post it after that long day. I love that square where the city divides itself into quadrants and the buildings are basically the same. And everything else is just too much to comment on but I'm looking forward to many chats when you get back. xoxo

rosanna said...

Oh Marylynne , I am so happy that you managed to go to the Cappella Palatina.
I think it's one of the best Bizantine churches I have ever seen if not THE best one.
The decoration is breathtaking.
Yes, you got right, Palazzo Reale is still in use for government this is why only a few rooms are free for tourist.
The big bird wings are supposedely Tacchino aka Turkey or Cappone aka Capon.
While the shells are Vongole aka Clams.
Big hugs and best wishes for your journey back home.
Rosanna

January said...

WOAH! Look at all the mosaics! So gorgeous - they remind me of all of the mosaic work at our Basilica here on campus. Such an unbelievable amount of work - but so worth it. Your pictures sure are good - I really like the one you got to take of the giant arch thing on the street!

Pavluv Pane said...

Absolutely great post and pictures. You did an excellent job walking us through the city (without exhausting us!). Thanks for sharing your adventure!

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