Italy Vacation 2003
Day 5, Thursday, Oct 9th

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Today we conclude the overnight ferry trip from Naples to Palermo, tour Palermo and head off to Agrigento and the Greek ruins located there. We stay the night in Agrigento at the Hotel Kaos. On the map below you can see Palermo at the top left and Agrigento bottom just left of centre. Today's route follows the light blue line similar in colour the the background colour of this page.

As you could see from the last couple of pictures on the previous page, the crossing of the Mare Tirreno (the Tyrrhenian Sea) was somewhat less than smooth. Sleep did not come easily to me as it doesn't on just about anything that moves. So, I was up early and was somewhat rewarded (if you can call it that) with these several pictures of the sunrise over Marr Tirreno.

Sun just starting to show.
Taken at 6:41 A.M..
The lighting changed as the clouds and ship moved. Taken 6 minutes later at 6:47.
This one was taken 10 minutes later than the one immediately above at 6:51.
This final one in the sequence was taken at 6:57, 16 minutes after the first one.

We never actually saw the sun until a bit later. These are the only four pictures of this sunrise and I never noticed the times until I was placing them here. Vertically, the pictures are 10 minutes apart.

These are the first sightings of land as we approached Palermo looking west and east.

The ferry arrived approximately an hour late. Here is a hastily taken picture of the ferry as we left the harbour area.

After that we went to a local hotel (Holiday Inn, I think it was) for breakfast and then headed out to tour Palermo and area. Our tour started at the Palace of the Normans which houses the Palatine Chapel. Pictures were not allowed here as it is the seat of the Sicilian Parliament. As one reference book I've been using says, "security is likely to be tight". It was, and you could only stay there for 10 minutes and we were watched every second. The palace was built in the 1130's and the chapel comes from around 1160. Check out the pictures of Monreale below and you'll get an idea of what it looked like. From here on there are at least some pictures.
We then visited the Cathedral. As in most Italian cities it's called Il Duomo. We then went on to Monreale (Montreal in english). Apparently Monreale does have some sort of twin cities arrangement with Montreal, Quebec. The main reason for going here is it's church called the Chiostro del Duomo di Monreale. It's quite a place as you'll see below.
Monreale is 10 Km outside of Palermo and after we were done there we went back into Palermo for lunch. After lunch we headed for Agrigento. But first here are some pictures of Palermo and Monreale.

Palermo Cathedral (Il Duomo).
The main body of the Cathedral.
All the colour is mosaic inlay. Here's a close up of one. The whole church is like this. The carved ceiling. The steel was added later.
Palermo traffic was probably the worst we saw. The bus even took a ding here.
More traffic.
The "relatively drab" facade of the Chiostro del Duomo di Monreale. Doesn't look like much does it? Wait until you get inside though! These are also mosaics and they illustrate stories from the bible.
The ceiling. Yes it's gold!
The main body of the church. See the walls in more detail in the next 2 pictures.
The upper wall left (facing the altar).
The upper right wall (facing the altar).
A slightly wider view of the altar area.
Jesus checking out his flock. This is an enlargement from the left image.
A chapel immediately to the right of the image above.
Palermo and its harbour as we leave for Abridgment.

We drove southeasterly heading for the south shore of Sicily and the small town of Agrigento. Agrigento's claim to fame is an area called the Valley of the Temples. For reasons unknown, Greek colonists from Gela, also known as Caltanissette, established a beachhead here in the 6th century B.C.. At that time it was called Akragas. Best known person to come from this area was Empedocles (490-430 B.C.) who was a philosopher and politician. He's best known for a theory that says matter consists of four elements: earth, fire, water, and air; modified by the agents love and strife. In the 3rd century B.C., there were a number of ownership changes between the Romans and the Carthaginians. Rome finally won out in 210 B.C. and the city was then called Agrigentium. In recent history this area is known for playwright Luigi Pirandello who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1934. So lets see what we came to see, the Greek Temples!

The town of Agrigento. Like many towns in Italy it's on a hill top. Looking to other direction from the previous picture we see the Mediterranean Sea. If you could see the other side it would be Tunisia.
This, I believe, is the Temple of Juno. It was erected sometime in the 5th century B.C. Our local guide. He was the curator of the site. He had a very deep gruff voice and really knew his stuff.
The Temple of Juno from the opposite side. The Temple of Concord. This is considered to be one of the best preserved in the world.
A closer view of the Temple of Concord. It has 6 columns on this side and 13 on the long sides. What's left of the Temple of Hercules from the 6th century B.C.. There are only 8 columns left.
This is the Giant on the ground near the Temple of Zeus. This figure was once used to support the now almost completely ruined temple. Way off in the distance is what I think is the Temple of Castor and Pollux. It has had many names over the years.

About 6:00 P.M. we headed off to the Hotel Kaos. This hotel name caused all sorts of jokes and comments but it was probably one of the least chaotic of all the hotels we stayed in. Wait until you see the next one!!

Tomorrow we head towards Taormina and Mt. Etna with a stop at someplace called the Roman Villa of Casale at Piazza Armerina.

On to Taormina.

Originally Created: January 17th, 2004
Final Edit: February 17, 2004 2:54 PM