Palermo is the capital Town of the Regione Sicilia, probably your gateway to Sicily. You are going to love the city: its art, culture and… Food. Moreover a day trip from Palermo can bring you to experience beautiful and less crowded treks to explore. An example? Monreale!
A Day Trip from Palermo: Arabs and Normans in Monreale
Monreale (“Royal Mountain”) is set on the slope of Monte Caputo, the hill which overlooks the “Conca d’Oro” – the Golden Valley, or Golden Shell. Monreale is just about 15 kilometers from Palermo and it can easily reached by bus.
The main attraction of Monreale is – well: one of the Sicily top attractions tout court, the Duomo. The Monreale Cathedral is one of the most important buildings in Norman architecture in the world, but – as it often happens in Sicily – its history is troubled and its design the “remix” of different styles and cultures.
When the Arabs occupied Palermo the Bishop was forced to move out from the city. The bishopric was moved to a little church in a not far village, which later became Monreale.
In 1072 the Normans conquered Palermo. The bishopric could get back to Palermo, but the Norman kings of Sicily fell in love with the Monreale area: the little village became the seat of the royal hunting resort and stated to grow in importance and number of inhabitants. William II king of Sicily commissioned the church in 1172 and in 1182 it became – according to a bulla (Papal bull) from the Pope Lucius III – a metropolitan cathedral.
The architecture of the church inherits the unique, unbelievable mix of the Sicilian “melting pot” with Norman – French, Byzantine and Arab elements.
The mosaics within the church are beautiful, and the cloister of the annexed monastery – very well preserved – allows you to time travel straight to the Middle Ages.
A Day Trip from Palermo: more to see in Monreale
If the Duomo is an amazing beauty, the view of the Conca d’Oro – even better in the early Sicilian spring – is outstanding. Last but not least, little cosy restaurants will allow you to enjoy the Sicilian food and its sumptuous variety: from fish to the famous arancini – rice bombs – to the richness of the marzipan.