The Grand Tour ends ~ in Rome

Ah Rome – what a treat to be back. Five years had passed since we first visited staying at the delightful Lancelot near the Colosseum.  This time we booked a hotel just out of the main centre – the Courtyard Marriott as it offered parking, the rate was reasonable, and the rooms were good.  On arrival we discovered there was a shuttle into the Vatican, so … Continue reading The Grand Tour ends ~ in Rome

Palermo part 3 ~ Magnificent Monreale

We got really brave today and ventured out in the car to visit the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site of Monreale Cathedral.  The roads were surprisingly quiet (perhaps because it was Sunday) and in no time we were parking in a local carpark just a short walk from the Cathedral. From the outside the Norman Cathedral the Moorish influence is obvious with delicate patterning hinting … Continue reading Palermo part 3 ~ Magnificent Monreale

Palermo ~ walking through history, part 2

Claudia continued our tour along Via Vittorio Emmanuele, past a local landmark (Argento Vincenzo) where intricate marionettes are made.  The Sicilian puppet (pupi) theatre tradition has been recognised by UNESCO, being inscribed on the ‘Representative list of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity’.  The range of puppets is impressive and we were delighted when Claudia introduced us to the elderly maker of these fantastic creations. He … Continue reading Palermo ~ walking through history, part 2

Palermo ~ walking through history …part 1.

We met our German-born guide Claudia Pace outside the entrance to the Palazzo di Normanni (Norman Palace). Claudia is an attractive and intelligent woman who has lived in Italy for thirty years. We discovered she is passionate about Palermo and her tour was one of the best we have taken. There were a couple of busloads of tourists lingering at the entrance, but Claudia slipped … Continue reading Palermo ~ walking through history …part 1.

Piazza Armerina – only one highlight …

Staying at Villa Trigona in Piazza Armerina was really a means to an end – so that we could see the Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage site, famed for its superbly preserved Roman Mosaics.  Situated in the Silician interior almost half way between Ortigia and Palermo, it made sense to stop there overnight – the other attraction being that it is only … Continue reading Piazza Armerina – only one highlight …

Syracuse – highlights from Ortigia

 Ortigia is an island suburb of Syracuse (Siracusa) on the Ionian coast and it is also the historic centre. It is a beautiful and elegant town and I adored the time we spent there, staying at Des Etrangers Hotel and Spa, which overlooked the Marina.   I guess you could say it was love at first sight for me after leaving Catania, which failed to … Continue reading Syracuse – highlights from Ortigia

Catania – highlights

We didn’t really fall in love with Catania – it is the second largest city in Sicily and the area we explored was dominated by buildings discoloured by deposits of volanic ash. It is apparently sometimes called ‘the black town’ –  it ain’t pretty in my opinion despite its Baroque architecture which gained it UNESCO World Heritage city status. I should stress that we only … Continue reading Catania – highlights