Sicily - Day 8: Piana degli Albanesi to Monreale to Palermo (by bike and car)

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The last morning of riding was quite nice - we got started on the late side, because we had a variety of bike mechanical issues, and Roberta showed up at our agriturismo and spent awhile helping us sort them out. Then we got underway, starting off with a bit more climbing than we'd counted on, up over the last ridge from which we'd descend to Monreale. But the views were nice, the weather cooperated, there wasn't too much mud, and really we had nothing to complain about except the scary one-car-wide tunnels. We arrived in Monreale in time to return the bikes, say our farewells to Roberta, and have a late lunch.

pomegranate tree in the agriturismo courtyard

looking into the courtyard from the tunnel of internet

looking out the back of the agriturismo

behind the agriturismo in the morning

fields behind the agriturismo

painted rocking tractor, in one of the agriturismo's common rooms

clay lamp, in one of the agriturismo's common rooms

we were promised no climbing today, but we do have to go up one hill before we start descending; Sarah, Tom, and Bill are underway

a funny-looking rock, visible near the top of the hill

Sarah, climbing

view from the top of the hill

that funny rock again, with a valley below it

after we crest the hill, the city of Piana degli Albanesi appears

Piana degli Albanesi in its valley

Piana degli Albanesi

Piana degli Albanesi behind its lake


Bill, David, and Sarah in front of Piana degli Albanesi's lake

the riders, with bicycles

me, in front of Piana degli Albanesi

Scott and Bill, preparing to get underway again

last view of the lake

always carry a tire swing for protection against hexagons

valley, behind a chain link fence warning you not to go into the valley

valley road

we round a bend and get our first view of Monreale

The valley containing Monreale stretches to the north and also contains Palermo, so you can see the outskirts of Palermo off to the right in this picture

mountain across from us

buildings in the valley we're riding along

looking back up the mountain we just came down - we took our photos of the valley from that road up there

the next portion of our ride featured tunnels

we learned that one-lane tunnels with no lights are scary - if you ever do this tour, bring headlights (we did, and we were very glad)

this tunnel is not that scary

elevated highway over the valley

stone-bordered window

a water park! (we did not visit the water park at this time)

signs point the way to Monreale

After lunch, we toured the Cattedrale di Monreale, known largely because it was built in somewhat of a hurry by cathedral standards (started in 1172, finished in 1267), and thus is a supposed to be an unusually good representative of Sicily's Arab-Norman architecture. Anyway, it had a duomo with a great view of Palermo and the surrounding areas, so we spent some time up there, then met our taxi back to Palermo. In Palermo, we were returning to the same hotel we'd been in the first night. We wandered around a bit (i finally made it to a bookstore) before heading to dinner at a place recommended by the internet. An important last gelato stop on the way back to the hotel ended our last full day in Sicily.

we leave our bikes in this plaza for Roberta to collect

tower of the Cattedrale di Monreale

Dave in front of the cathedral

statue in front of cathedral, presented without comment

walls and arches inside the cathedral

ceiling of the cathedral

top of a column

floor mosaic in the cathedral

geometric wall tiles

metal doors with a bunch of (i think) biblical scenes

Hey, knowledgeable people, what's happening here? The second line has to be Cain and Abel, right? But since when does the story of Cain and Abel involve bears? If those are even bears?

They closed the metal bible doors while we were standing there. Here's the interior view with the doors closed

bottom of a marble column

we then climbed to the top of the duomo, as one does

courtyard view from a landing

panorama from the top of the duomo

store room passed while climbing

window down to that courtyard

roof we passed partway up

roof tiles


arches across the courtyard

arches across the courtyard

tile floor of the corridor as we climb

window view as we climb

looking down at the cathedral's organ

geometric floor pattern

looking in at art on the cathedral's arches

geometric patterns on the outside of the cathedral

view towards Palermo


...and one dizzying wavy lines roof

and a very dirty round tile roof leading up to the observation deck

me, up on the duomo

Palermo again

a hillside clocktower

more tiles, on the railing up to the observation deck

the small observation deck in the middle of the duomo's top level afforded nice views of the surrounding countryside, but was a little nervewracking to stand in, even for those not overly afraid of hights

the rest of the cathedral, including a not-open-to-the-public connecting walkway, from the observation deck

looking through the open top of the building across the courtyard

one last view of roofs and mountains from the observation deck

huh, i asked, why do those guys have 20m of rope on their balcony

Scott, looking at the view

Bill, arriving on the lower roof

huh, now those guys are rigging up a pulley. what's up with that?

a mysterious box! they have used their pulley to bring a mysterious box upstairs!

view of the organ on the way down from the roof

there is a wedding happening in the cathedral

we had a few minutes before meeting our cab, so i wandered around town a little

street on the Palermo-ward side of town - you can see that Monreale really is the edge of the mountains

view towards Palermo, looking green because of the nearby parks

building in Monreale with graffiti and a palm tree

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