Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Rainy Day in Caltigirone

We live about 20 minutes drive from Caltigirone. One evening a couple of weeks ago, we decided to go explore. We found some great shopping, but after about an hour my hubbie was ready to go. As we tried to find our way out of town we found the old section - absolutely beautiful, but Les didn't feel well and wanted to get home so we didn't stop.

This last Thursday we were able to take a tour of Caltigirone. I was dying to take pictures of the places I had only glimpsed before.

Thursday dawned (I use that term loosely) dark, gloomy and rainy. We debated on which coats to wear and how many umbrellas to take and finally settled on our heavy coats and both umbrellas. It was still pouring when we arrived in Caltigirone. We were fortunate that we brought both umbrellas. The tour turned out to be mainly a walking tour so we sloshed our was around trying to take in the sights and stay as dry as possible. I didn't get nearly as many pictures as I had hoped for, but here are the few that turned out.

Inside the Cathedral

Nativity on the 144 Steps, Each step has beautiful ceramic tiles made in Caltigirone

There area lot of great shops and beautiful sights that I can't wait to go take in when it is SUNNY!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Monreale and Palermo

Yesterday we finally got out of the house and went on another tour - this time to Palermo. We've been in our new apartment for a few weeks, and now that we are finally settled (for the most part) we decided that it was high time we got out and started having FUN again!

Our first stop was the small town of Monreale, in the hills south of Palermo. Monreale Cathedral is known for its amazing mosaics of both the old and new testaments. It was built, or rather, funded, by King WIlliam II (also known as King William the Good). The cathedral was built started in 1174 and finished in a mere 15 years. The inside of the cathedral is lined with over 2,000 mosaics made of gold, silver and colored glass. Hundreds of craftsmen worked on the mosaics and as a result, several different artistic styles are woven together in this masterpiece.

Moasic of Noah's Ark

Cathedral Cieling

Cathedral Apse

12th Century Political Propaganda, King William II being crowned by Christ

After Monreale we made our way to the Catacombe dei Cappuccini. I wasn't thrilled about this part of the tour, but I figured I should at least see it once. We made our way beneath the Capuchin Monastery where over 7,000 mummified bodies have been laid to rest. No photography was allowed, so I have no pictures, though I'm not sure if I would have wanted to remember it that graphically. It was creepy. Been there, done that, don't need to do it again.

Once everyone was mentally scarred for the rest of their lives we loaded back onto the bus and made our way to the Cathedral of Palermo. From the outside it is an impressive and beautiful, but after being inside Monreale with its sparkling mosaics, the inside of the Palermo Cathedral was a bit more bland. It did, however, have several beautiful paintings.

Once we were finished at the Cathedral it was time to eat. We ended up eating with some of the other members of our tour and had a delightful lunch. After lunch we have about a half hour left and decided to take a walk to the Opera House. It was quite beautiful, all decked out for Christmas. The front stairs were lined with poinsettias.

As we were taking pictures of the opera house I saw several horse drawn carriages, and noticed that the horses were wearing ear muffs! Too funny!

After the Opera House we made our way back to the bus for the long drive back home. It was a great day and I can't wait to see more of Palermo. There is so much to see there and we barely scratched the surface!