Today was the final full day of my Lampedusan/Sicilian journey! I had an incredible time. I left Lampedusa early this morning, with Daniela dropping me off sentimentally at the airport. I arrived in Palermo with plans of wandering around the city and Monreale to get a last taste of Sicilian art and culture. I left my luggage at the train station lockers and headed out, nervous to get mugged because of warnings (I had no such incident myself, but I saw it happen THRICE).
Monreale was an incredible cathedral. It and the cloister next to it were completely covered by gold mosaic form the 12th century. Since today was Sunday, I stayed for about half an hour of mass, which was conducted interestingly in Latin. It was so interesting to see these sites, especially after having taken a class about 11th-15th century Europe last semester. Today I was able to see so many things that actually made my random humanities class relevant!
At Monreale, I met two lovely couples that I actually ended up exploring the city with in the afternoon. One couple was from Germany, and the other was from the Netherlands. We commiserated over the bus wait but found many things to talk about! Anyways, walking around Palermo was awesome. It was so cool seeing the influence of past Muslim and Norman invasions on the architecture, language and culture. I had my last arancino (pistachio, ricotta and spinach) which was also the best! I was fortunate enough to stumble upon a traditional religious procession (it has existed since the first two churches were built in Palermo!) that passed by the Cuatro Canti. The Cuatro Canti is the intersection between Via Roma and Via Liberta, and marks the center of the ancient city. The latter street was also the one which Giuseppe Giaribaldi marched down with the Red Shirts for the final move in his strive for the unification of Italy. Definitely the most impressive site in the city was the Catedrale di Palermo with its intricate design and impressive size. It looks more like a mosque from the outside, but the inside clearly glorifies the church in a way almost unimaginable. It's peaceful yet powerful - hard to describe.
I worked my way back to the train station by about 7 PM to be picked up by my gracious hosts for the night before my early morning flight back to the states. Silvia and her husband Silvio live in Palermo but commute 1 hour to their jobs which are situated in opposite directions. Silvana works at the WWF reserve in Trapani with Girolamo. Despite my absolute exhaustion and sleep deprivation, I couldn't deny a late night tour of the city and a stop for my last gelato (pistachio and coffee!). I was such a good way to end my journey!
Interior of the Catedrale di Monreale
The cloister behind the cathedral
Catedrale di Palermo
Religious parade at the Cuatro Canti
Teatro Massimo with Silvana