Europe

Discovering Palermo and the Cappella Palatina

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As we descended, I noticed how little by little the orography of the island was showing itself among the clouds. We did not plan to spend more than the four holidays that make up Holy Week in Palermo, but because of life's hazards we end up going 10 days in Sicily. It is what the above has, which makes you have to adapt at all times.

Before arriving, I had read that Sicily had gotten off the train of modernity decades ago and that it was making its way at its own pace. This is already felt when one sees the train from the airport to the central station. The "trencic piccolo," as the reviewer told us when pointing out the train to the center, seemed to have come out of a comic film from the sixties.

In Sicily everything works in its own way, if the train that is supposed to leave you at the central station ends up leaving you in another without any warning, no problem, you can always do a canolo and a latte macchiato at the providential bakery on duty while waiting for the 30 minutes it takes to pass the special service bus. In Palermo we stayed at B&B ZC, near the central station. It is on the top floor of a royal estate with elevator. A part of the flat is enabled for guests and the rest of the house seems to be the home of a noble family come at least in the times of Garibaldi. From the terrace, Caterina gave us a review of the most prominent buildings in the city. We see the domes of the most important churches in Palermo, all located in the old Arab quarter.

Palermo has its own rhythm. It was one o'clock on a working Friday and people were sitting so quietly on the terrace of the bars eating ice cream without any stress. The city is beautiful and far from as chaotic and dirty as I had heard.

To begin, we walked towards the cathedral until an hour later we realized that we were going in the opposite direction. I won't worry you, that 104 leaves you right where you want to go. Although the bus in Italy follows its own schedule. As my friend Daniella, Roman de Pro said: «in Italy the bus passes when it passes».

When we go down, we enter a pancake to eat some paninis. I love to splash Italian, the one that I have learned through the times I have visited the country. I really like using unconnected words and trying to build sentences that most of the time nobody understands, but what am I going to do to him, I love Italy.

A few meters from the bakery is the Porta Nuova, which separated the new part of the city from the old. It's next to Palazzo dei Normanni, current seat of the Sicilian Parliament and former medieval court. What stands out the most Palazzo is the Cappella Palatina, chapel that King Ruggiero II had built between 1132 and 1143. The monarch, who was Norman and extremely tolerant (by the time, of course), commissioned the project to Norman, Greek and Arab artisans so that the Palatine Chapel had representation of the major religions that had a presence in Sicily at that time.

The result is a spectacular chapel, especially after the 2009 restoration. The entire roof is made up of small golden Byzantine-style tiles, which include Arabic borders and orthodox elements. Predominant on the altar, we have the figure of the Pantocrator and in the aisles scenes of the new and old testament and of Ruggiero II and its court. We were lucky that day, since there were hardly any people visiting it, or maybe it was because it was a working Friday at four in the afternoon. The € 10 that the entrance costs also includes the visit to the Parliament, the room of the winds, the room of Ruggiero II and the Phoenician wall of the palace. The visit is mandatory with a guide in Italian (only) and photos cannot be taken. Likewise, after visiting the Palatine Chapel the rest of the visit was totally eclipsed. It should be noted that the Parliament of Sicily is the oldest in Europe and that 90 parliamentarians form it.

Near there is the church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, which is a small church crowned by five red domes, a living reflection of the mixture of Arab and Norman styles also built during the reign of Ruggiero II. To enter San Giovanni degli eremiti you have to pay, but we were lucky and, as was the cultural week, the entrance was free. It happened to us exactly the same as in PompeiiIt seems that the Italian cultural week is after us. I love this country! As his passion for everything sweet. If in the Italian peninsula the ice cream is good, in Sicily they are tremendous.

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