A day of administration and the Monreale Cathedral

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April 12th 2013
Published: April 13th 2013
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Today's Gelato flavour - GMB- Sicilian Cassata

Weather again fine and sunny,low 20's.

As promised by Fausto the sun was streaming into our bedroom and onto the breakfast terrace and even at 8.30am it was warm.

There was also a light breeze and with a mound of washing to do we were going to appreciate having that breeze to dry clothes quickly.

We haven't been able to replace the toaster at an Auchan store yet but we still managed toast cooked the 'homeless people' way over the gas flame on the stove to accompany our scrambled eggs.

With the washing done and on the line outside the terrace and on our twirly sting line attached between two chairs on the terrace we were up to date with the laundry.

We had a chill out morning,what was left of it, reading and checking ahead for further accommodation options now that the tour committee has decided on travelling up the eastern side,generally,of Italy to Tuscany.

Lunch of risotto with asparagus cooked in the microwave was tasty along with fresh sick of bread,well fired, from the neighbourhood pizzeria which also seems to be a bakery and general store, next door.

We walked into Monreale with the aim of visiting the cathedral which was begun in 1174 and is one of the worlds finest examples of Norman architecture and we were not to be disappointed by this majestic building.

The outside is quite different in appearance to many other cathedrals and churches in Italy given its style of architecture.

Inside there is over 6,500 sq metres of glass mosaics in a style not dissimilar to the Hagia Sofia(sp.?) in Istanbul except here in Monreale the whole of what you can see has been restored or at least well maintained.It truly was a stunning sight !

There are two very prominent tombs inside ,one is that of William I of Sicily while the other is that of William II.

Also unlike many other churches in Italy the roof is made of timber decorated in colour and well restored.

Despite there being several parties in side with guides we didn't get the feel of a lack of space to move around and examine the mosacics etc,such is the size of the interior.

All in all a very impressive cathedral with a unique interior.

The cathedral is built close to the edge of the town and so just a few metres down the road there are expansive views down to Palermo and out to sea.All around the cathedral small businesses were set up with the usual postcards and replicas in plastic of the cathedral as well as a number of shops selling mosaics as we had seen within the church itself.

After a gelato in the piazza watching the traffic come and go we strolled back through the streets towards home with Gretchen reliving her drive through the much busier streets of yesterday.

We came across a shop selling Sicilian desert treats and we purchased 2 cup cakes with cream ricotta and strawberries on top as well as 2 specalities of this island in cannoli which are tubes made from pastry dough with the ricotta cream inside,very sweet and delicious as we found with our coffee at night.

The packaging of the 4 items took us a bit by surprise as the shop assistant wrapped them carefully in tissue like paper then in more paper and tied that with ribbon finishing in a bow.All very elaborate for a couple of Euros in total.

We called into our fruit and vege shop and the guy who served us last night recognised us.No need for a cone today though to put our purchases in as they were oranges and bananas at ridiculous cheap prices.We really have been able to eat very well and healthy for a very small amount of Euros,not forgetting the cheap wine and beer.

Our trek home took us past the rubbish dump for the houses and apartments in the area.As we have travelled over the past 2 weeks we have of course been rather dismayed by the at times vast amounts of rubbish, seemingly thrown into the heap on the side of the road.We have now come to appreciate that in general in many towns there is no home pick up like we are used to in NZ and that the locals have an area,generally away from habitation although not always,to throw their rubbish into a pile to be picked up.

Upon closer examination of this pile at the end of our road,but not too close,we could see there were marks of a front end loader scoop so we reckon that every so often,and we can't be sure how often,machinery comes along and clears the stinking mess up.Some piles have been more orderly than others and this one as you can tell from the photo is quite orderly.And no,we didn't see any 'Basil the rat'(ex Fawlty Towers) or other vermin although there was a well dead rat on the side of the road a couple of hundred metres further on.

After dinner we watched a couple of episodes of Ever Decreasing Circles starring the now late Richard Briers.It is a comedy series we both enjoy and get a good laugh from.

It had altogether been a blobby type of day with the laundry now all done and away in the packing cells and a visit to an amazing cathedral.

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