Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The first few days of our tour of Sicilia

Here is our whole tour group in Erice, not far from Palermo.

We are in the beginning days of a Rick Steves tour of Sicily, and I realized that if I didn’t post some of my photos soon, along with captions, I would forget what many of the photos were about in the years to come. So, in order to have a brief record of our trip, and to make all my readers jealous, I will select a few of my favorite photos as I have time.

In Palermo, we took a short trip to Monreale, the royal mountain, and saw the mosaics at the cathedral of Monreale, which was erected by King William II in a royal park on the site of an earlier Greek church. Work on the structure and its decoration was largely completed just before the death of the king in 1189. The church was consecrated to the Assumption of the Virgin.

The spacious interior is covered with mosaics throughout and also boasts large antique columns with decorative capitals, marble paneling on the lower wall surfaces and an ornamental floor in the sanctuary. The mosaics cover the upper portions of the walls of the sanctuary and the nave, in all a surface area of roughly 7,600 square meters, the most extensive mosaic decor in Italy, surpassing even San Marco in Venezia.

We also visited Palazzo Conte Federico, one of the oldest buildings in Palermo. It was built on Punic-Roman city walls which surrounded Panormus, the ancient name of Palermo. The tower on the south side of the palace is one of the few remaining parts of the old city wall. It dates back to the 12th century and is Arabic-Norman origin. Count Federico’s family, which can be followed back to the Staufen Emperor Friedrich II, has been living in this palace for centuries. Above the double-arched Norman windows can be seen the coat of arms of the imperial family of the Hohenstaufen, of the kingdom of Aragonia and the city of Palermo. We were personally escorted by Count Federico and Countess Alwine.
Lucy took this photo and the next one at breakfast from the balcony of our hotel in Palermo, L'Ambasciatori.

Monte Pellegrino overlooks Palermo.

Here is the view from Segesta, from just below the teatro. Segesta was one of the major cities of the Elymian people, one of the three indigenous peoples of Sicily.

The Roman theater of Segesta.

The "Greek" temple of Segesta. That red dot is Donna.

Lucy takes a rest after participating in a concert in the Roman theater is Segesta.
Above is a short clip from the command performance we saw at the Roman theater.

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