Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Whirlwind Tour of Palermo and Surrounding areas

Saturday that my parents were here we really wanted to take them around to see sights in and around Palermo, Sicily.  It happened to be cold and rainy and actually snowing in the higher elevations, which is highly unusual here for winter, much less at the end of March.    Anyway, our first stop was the Cappuchin crypts where the mummified remains of many wealthy Palermitani and clergy are kept.  It is a practice unique to this area and the result has something to do with the combination of air and lack of moisture in the crypt area.  It was discontinued in the late 1800’s, except for a small child done in the early 1900’s, who looks like a sleeping doll.

Then we were off to the theater for our refund from the night before, and stopped to take pictures on the steps, although DSC03398not in our elegant theater clothes.  We had sandwiches for lunch and headed out to tDSC03402he Segesta, a doric Greek temple that you could walk inside.  We got there, just as it really started to rain, making the walk cold and miserable.  When we got to the top of the steps we found a fence around it.  (Very frustrating, because we came in December and were able to walk around inside and take pictures.)We opted not to take the bus to the top of the hill to see the amphitheater, and settled for some hot chocolate in the bar instead.  We found out that the fence had been put up the previous week. 

We decided to visit the Duomo at Monreale, to see the intricate gold mosaics inside.  Different scenes from the Bible are beautifully crafted in detailed gold leaf mosaics, covering the walls and ceiling of the cathedral.  There is also an enormous pipe organ that encompasses the front of the church.   Outside there is a fountain in the square, with a mythical sea creature.  As artists and musicians, my DSC03439parents appreciated the beauty and craftsmanship of these works of art.DSC03448

Since thDSC03454ere was still time before dinner that evening we drove up Mt. San Pellegrino, mountain of the pilgrims, to see the church at Santa Rosalia.  She became a hermit who lived in a cave on the mountain after becoming disgusted with the lives of the nobility.  A church was built in front of her cave.  She is honored as a  saint in Palermo, mainly for the end of a plague.  Pilgrims can walk a path up the side of the mountain to the church.  The very devout make the trek on their knees.  We looked around inside the church and saw some other tourists that we had seen at the theater as well.  After chatting and some laughter, we were promptly shushed by the priest who was getting ready to lock up for the evening.  Outside, we finally saw the clouds beginning to clear away and the sunset break through.  In the distance we could see snow-capped mountains.

We drove back into Palermo to the church where we were hosting a spaghetti dinner so that my parents could meet our friends  and  “family” here in Sicily.  Many in the youth group attended also.  We enjoyed the fellowship, and my mom and dad got to see how special everyone here is to us.  We ended the evening with a stop at the cornetti stand, which no one complained about.  We went home tired, but happy we got to see as much as we did.