Europe

Palermo and excursion to the cathedral of Monreale

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Every morning, Palermo He wakes up with the loud sounds of his markets. He Vuccira market It is without a doubt the most famous and oldest in the city. It is located at the intersection that forms the Corsican Vittorio Emanuelle and the Via Roma. However, we started that day by visiting another market, that of Blew. It is south of the church of Gesú and despite not being as famous as that of the Vuccira, it is much more authentic. Walking through it, one realizes that in Sicily, life is done in the street. In general, all the stores have their stops abroad and in the markets that is exposed to the maximum power: the meats, the fish, the fruits and the vegetables are arranged as in a still life, and the sellers try to attract the clientele propagating the excellences of their products with a bare shout.

Little by little, we were facing the streets in a northerly direction until we came across the church of Gesu again. It was Saturday morning and the church was decorated for a wedding. On the outside, the Church of the Gesú has nothing special, only a Renaissance facade, but the interior leaves the visitor speechless: baroque-baroque. There is not a single square centimeter that is not decorated with colored marbles or paintings. All a waste of polychrome with figures of birds, lions, cherubs, flowers, etc ... simple, hey!

A short ten minutes walk rises the Martorana church. Admission is free, but thank you for making a donation for its conservation. It is one of the prettiest churches and with more contrasts of Palermo, since it can be seen very different parts. One part is a 12th-century structure with Byzantine-style mosaics built by Greek artisans, while the apse and the facade are baroque. Thus, in the church of the Martorana you can see Baroque frescoes next to mosaics full of golden tiles.

Right next to the Martorana is the church of San Cataldo which, like the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, is a mixture of Arabic and Norman styles. In both cases, the pink domes that crown them stand out. To enter the church of San Cataldo you have to pay € 3 and we decided not to enter.

We go through the Piazza Pretoria and by the source of the same name until we reach Quattro Canti, where we take the Corso Vittorio Emanuelle to go to the cathedral. As the cathedral closes at half past five, the previous day did not give us time to enter. Unfortunately, unlike the Gesu church, the Palermo Cathedral inside is highly disappointing or perhaps too austere. The best of Palermo's cathedral is its exterior and surround it to discover all its details.

Palermo Cathedral It is the living reflection of the history of the island, since every town that has passed through Sicily has left its mark on it. The Cathedral began to be built in 1184 on an old mosque (which in turn had been built on an old chapel). Therefore, apart from the Arab-Norman style, you can still see some detail of the ancient mosque. Little by little, some Gothic and other parts of Gothic-Catalan style were added, which has ended up giving it a unique appearance.

A few minutes from the cathedral, bus 389 stops at Piazza Indipendeza (just behind the Palazzo dei Normandi) and leads to the village of Monreale. It was our next destination, in principle, but in the end we got tired of waiting for the bus for more than 40 minutes and decided to get on 109 to go to the Kalsa neighborhood. The problem was that in that direction the bus ended up leaving us on the outskirts of Palermo, where it had the end of the line. So we had to get back on the bus to take us downtown and get off at the central station.

Relatively close to the central station and next to the sea is the Kalsa neighborhood. What was until a few years ago the most marginal and conflictive neighborhood of the city, has become the beneficiary of almost all the investments of the town hall, which has given rise to a completely different neighborhood. We stopped to eat in one of the two trattorias that roasted fresh fish in the street. The trattoria Torremuzza It is the typical one where locals and clueless tourists come together to taste a traditional Sicilian meal, such as spaghetti with sarde (sardines) and the involtini alla siciliana (meat skewer stuffed with mozzarella). Walking through the current Kalsa it is hard to imagine that just a few years ago it was one of the neighborhoods where the mafia reigned and so poor that even Mother Teresa of Calcutta came to open a mission there. Currently, most of the buildings are restored and their streets untouched, although this is still a daytime vision. I don't know how it will be at night.

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