a few hours in monreale

After visiting Palermo for lunch, we headed up a windy and narrow road to a little town called Monreale.

The lopsided, sandy-colored buildings make me so happy!

Here is a view of the garden within the Monreale Cathedral. You can see the beautiful arches in the background, and each pillar is made up of shimmering geometric mosaics, which are of Arab influence.

This is an up-close shot of the magnificent mosaics. It’s so hard to capture their true beauty on camera! And the fact that they are still intact and well-preserved blows my mind.

I couldn’t get a great shot of the door outside the cathedral because there were bars in front of it, but it is filled with small, detailed sculptures of Bible stories.

This is outside of the cathedral, and it was, by far, one of my favorite pieces of architecture I witnessed while in Sicily. You would think that the mix of different styles would look strange and random, but here is one example of just the opposite. This sounds weird, but I could have stared at this cathedral all day. It’s just so hypnotizingly gorgeous!

Here’s another view of it.

Oh, how I wanted to buy one of these! We walked into a little store filled with extraordinary mosaic designs of all sorts. Unfortunately, even the tiniest canvases were around 75 euro (don’t get me wrong, it’s completely worth it!). Someday I’ll come back and buy one.

The woman who was working in the shop was making a design as we walked in, so I got to see just how much work goes into the process. I saw her break tiny pieces of glass and place them perfectly to fit within the frame. Long story short, I fell in love with mosaics in Sicily — not just the final product, but the intensive work that goes into creating them.

Another charming balcony housing a mini jungle.

This is an anxiety-inducing road I would never ever ever ever want to drive down. Also, wouldn’t you just love to live in one of those apartments? I know I would. You could open your window and have a full on conversation with your neighbors!

Here’s the view that Monreale is known for, “La Conca d’Oro,” or The Golden Shell.

A picture of me in front of The Golden Shell. It was very windy up there!

Oh, do you see the lanyard with the red writing that says “Whispers”? Those are little devices we received with each tour guide. It’s a (very uncomfortable) headphone that is connected by Bluetooth to the guide’s microphone so everyone can hear them.  The name “Whispers” is so funny to me, so I just had to share this. Oh, and there was a moment when a few of us went into the bathroom and the group kept moving on, so as we were peeing, we missed nothing! 😉

This is the inside of the cathedral which we saw after roaming the town for a bit. You can see yet another Jesus dome; this one’s also made entirely of mosaic.

The WOOD ceiling!

Aghhhh, I cannot get enough of this mosaic. I’ve decided that my future kitchen backsplash will be completely inspired by Sicily!

This is the Virgin Mary in one of the corners of the church. The shrine is made entirely of marble, and below there were nearly a hundred flickering candles.

We had some free time after touring the town and visiting the cathedral. Here are some lovely and delicious Sicilian cookies (mostly almond or lemon-based!).

A very refreshing strawberry granita.

This was my view as I enjoyed the granita. *sigh* it doesn’t get better than this…

That was our mini trip to Monreale! It’s taken a while for me to get this post up, but school is ending in eight days, so life has been a bit crazy. I’ll be putting a few more Sicily posts up very soon… buonanotte.