Monreale, Sicily: mosaic masterpieces fit for a queen
Anyone with even a twinge of OCD can appreciate the satisfaction that must arise from completion of a giant mosaic. If you have more than a twinge, as I do, you’ll think you’ve gone to heaven when standing in front of the giant golden religious puzzle art that is the cathedral in Monreale, Sicily. Honestly, if there is a positive afterlife, I’m sure that every day you must have the opportunity to place the last tiny square in a similar work of art. Of course, Hell would be facing a similar work with the last piece forever out of reach.
Most visits to Sicily will see you based in Palermo—it is one of the largest cities on the island, easily reached by plane or train from Rome, and it is a convenient hub for traveling around Sicily. Monreale is a simple day trip by bus, about a half hour out of the town center, depending on traffic.
We were fortunate enough to have a friend drive us, and we experienced the true art of Sicilian driving first-hand. I lived in New York for 17 years, and I think that even the most seasoned Brooklyn-born cabbie would stifle a few gasps while trying to navigate the winding, narrow streets of Sicily. Just being a passenger in the front seat is enough excitement to send you stumbling toward the nearest wine bar when the roller coaster ride is done.
But before you indulge in a full-bodied red, make sure to visit the Monreale cathedral. You’ll want a clear head, as the sky-high glittering images make a dizzying impact. Scene after scene is rendered in intricate detail, and you’ll find yourself turning in circles trying to take in the full view. The light entering the church windows plays its own airy tunes on the art, bringing out tones and shades so that the pictures seem to change before your eyes. There’s no more serene, regal experience than being surrounded by epic, golden artwork in a hilltop Italian town.
If that’s not enough, be sure to stop by one of Monreale’s bakeries to pick up some cannoli for your evening meal. In true Italian style, they will provide you with the filling separately, so that you can stuff the shells just prior to eating. After all, the Weekend Duchess would not settle for stale cannoli!4 comments