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48 hours in Sicily

Over a pretty packed 48 hours an elite force of C & B Block Medievalists set out for Sicily to ‘do’ the Norman sites. They struck gold at the very first by getting into Roger II’s palace which houses the Capella Palatina, his private apartments (with their rather fine mosaic leopards) and, a nod to the Arab origins of the building, noted the observatory on the top from which the asteroid Ceres (named after the wheat abundance of medieval Sicily) was first recorded. They went on to Cefalu, to see the Cathedral and its wonderful cloisters, and enjoy a swift dip in the Mediterranean, before returning to Palermo for a night-time tour of the Cloisters at Monreale. Sunday morning saw them in Palermo Cathedral tracking down the royal tombs and Arab-Norman Apse; then on to La Zisa, the once- country, now rather dingy suburb, palace of William ‘The Bad.’ Through the expert guidance of KCD, they came to see the remarkable overlayering in Sicily of Norman, Byzantine and Arabic influences – a tombstone in La Zisa commends its subject in four languages, throwing in Hebrew as an extra. And discovering that the most important church in Palermo was founded by an Emir (from which derives our word ‘Admiral’) rather makes the point. Stansted was less appealing. If only Roger II had had hand in its design.

DATE POSTED: 05 November 2018

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