Jorge Sanchez (Spain):
Sicily Island is a country in itself. There is plenty of history and wonderful places to visit.
During the week that I spent there I did not miss Palermo, of course, Siracusa, Catania, Agrigento and Cefalu.
In Cefalu you can get cheap boats to the Eolie Islands, but since I was short of money, I did not take it. Instread, in Porto Empedocles, near Agrigento, I boarded a ferry to lampedusa Island.
When I visited Cefalu (mainly the churches, since I love to visit religious places) some people told me about the house where an English mystic of the XX century (and also a Himalaya climber), named Aleister (Alexander) Crowley, lived some years and called it Abbey of Theleme, and learnt that it was abandoned after Mussolini expelled him from Italy because of his esoteric practices. Anyway I went up there just for curiosity, near the stadium premises, and saw it with the roof destroyed, walled by the local authorities in order to prevent people from entering, and full with grasses and herbs almost covering it.
I could distinguish painting in its walls, but did not dare to climb to the place, since it was fenced.
One of the most interesting visits in Palermo city (I would say the best) is the Palazzo dei Normanni, dating from the IX century, in the times of the Muslims invaders. Entry fee is not expensive. In the ground floor you can admire some archeological ruins, but the best is located on the first floor, where a very well preserved chapel is located. It is called Capella Palatina, it is devoted to Saint Peter and shows Byzantine reminiscence in its construction. Its mosaics, the throne, and the atmosphere are unusual causing a feeling of beauty, elegance and perfection.
The day when I visited the Palazzo there was an exposition of the film Il Gattopardo, related with the history of Palermo
Date posted: September 2013
Have you been to Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedral churches of Cefalů’ and Monreale? Share your experiences!