Sicily 2011 #3: Monreale written 8 years ago


Here are my travel notes from Sicily, you might like to read them if you are easily amused. They’re not terribly interesting unless you are me.

Day 4

Asking the receptionist in the hotel how to get to Monreale, she suggested two options: one involving a 20 minute walk and a bus, one a five minute walk and a bus. We chose the five minute walk.

We loitered around where the ticket-booth-bloke had indicated, spotting many other equally confused native tourists. Being asked several times in Italian if we knew where/when the bus would arrive did prove somewhat bemusing, but eventually our bus arrived and our gaggle of tourists embarked; it was looking unlikely we would see inside the cathedral.

Camp Stance
Whilst waiting for the bus, this chap would pull over cars and request their documents.

30 minutes later, some mountains grew up around us, and the gears on the bus start grinding in pain.

What do Sicilians have against toilet seats? A 50 cent payment doesn’t even get you one!

The Cathedral seems to be mostly shut, and shut not in terms of the bloke who usually stands by the door has gone home, but the kind of shut that involves gates and padlocks. Our efforts in travel would not be in vain though, as the cloisters are open all day and some negotiating with the attendant staff leads us to enter with a 18-25 year old discount; presumably she read the date in an American fashion from my driving license.

The Cathedral in Monreale, with closed gates.

The cloisters are cloistery enough, I’ve never yet four out their true purpose in life, other than to look pretty, and presumeably have the correct circumferencence to facilitate ‘a quick chat’.

Cloisters at Monreale
The Cloisters at Monreale Cathedral

The gardens are looking a little overgrown, though I’m not sure if it’s mainly due to visiting out of season or not. The novel attraction here seems to be the mosaic decorated pillars supporting the archways around the sides, the most interesting of which are those where most of the mosaic has fallen off and the shaped stone can be seen in the raw. One or two of the columns have been restored (much as you would restore an old broom with a new one) giving an idea of the fit and finish of the original installation.

New Stonework at Monreal Cathedral Cloisters
Shiny new stonework

The cloisters well and truly ticked off in our Michelin eye-spy tour guide, we continued for a wander. Bought some bananas, which it turns out taste much like regular Tesco bananas.

We sampled some of the local food-things, in the form of a scotch egg shaped blob thing, and something that appeared to be a hot-dog wedged in some bread. The scotch egg disappointingly lacked and sausage meat and not even an egg: some brute had replaced them respectively with risotto rice and some kinda sickly mush. I might have called the sickly mush fish, had it had any trace of flavour, but it seemingly had none. It shortly went in the bin. The hot dog wedged in some bread turned out to satisfyingly be just a hot-dog in some bread, and was delicious.

Not sure what this is .. wasn’t nice though

One giant doughnut later found us snoozing our way back to Palermo.

The hotel receptionist with the not-so-great advice about the busses made us some not-so-great lukewarm tea (sadly Tea is not well enough understood around the world) and we sat for a while before deciding to brave the markets.

The map purports that there are several markets in Palermo, but whilst we entered the Vittoria market, we found that the market stalls seemed to snake across the town, joining up the various markets and we exited about a mile from where we began.

The light faded as we trekked through the various bands of fruit&veg, household goods and other miscellanies, and the market lit up, illuminated by strings of light draped from window ledges, poles, and any other random surface that could be dangled upon.

Palermo Markets at night

Why are the cauliflowers green? And why are they almost called Broccoli?

A giant ice cream followed (3 scoops!) to last us until teatime.

Jess eats two ice creams

Our last meal in Palermo would be one of blind ordering; the restaurant we had chosen had Italian only menus and our scrap of paper with translations on it had been long forgotten. It worked out well, as I had chance ordered fillet steak and the girl successfully deciphered that ‘spade poisson’ was indeed swordfish.

Read Sicily Entry #4.

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