Posted: Friday, September 27, 2013
As we continue our journey around Sicily, today we landed in the beautiful port of Palermo and were transported some 1,500 years ahead of where we were yesterday, to the great Norman rule of the island. Our first stop was the Royal Norman Palace, with its exquisite mosaics. Before arriving, our Met lecturer, Frank Dabell, mentioned that these mosaics rival Ravenna. He was absolutely right. Beautifully preserved and grand in scale, the Palatine Chapel is simply breathtaking. And because we are on Sicily, the decoration is an extraordinary example of the synthesis of the diverse cultures—Latin Christian, Greek Christian, Byzantine, and Arab—coming together to create a particularly Norman style in this gorgeous personal chapel. It is what our lecturer called "variety within unity." A true Sicilian experience!
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The Sea Cloud is transporting us across the sea and back in time, to the land of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, the Greeks and the Romans. Sicily is as magical and majestic as I imagined. While yesterday we witnessed a landscape I can only describe as brutal, yet punctuated by churches that were as baroquely ornate as wedding cakes, today we sailed into the port at Agrigento and walked through the so-called Valley of the Temples, home to some of the greatest Greek temples still in existence. Along a sloping hill amid a landscape of almond and pistachio trees, rosemary, jasmine, and pear cactus, stand breathtaking monuments to the greatness of Greek architecture. Agrigento is worth any traveler's time, and for lovers of ancient culture, it is definitely a must-see.