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Dilemma about Palermo! Help me make up my mind, please!

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Feb 18th, 2008, 04:04 AM
  #1
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Dilemma about Palermo! Help me make up my mind, please!

Hi everybody,

I know I already have a thread about Sicily, but this dilemma is driving me nuts, specially, because I want to book my flight ASAP in order to get a good price. I've checked all of the other threads about Palermo and there aren't that many.

I've planned staying in Palermo for 4 nights but I'm wodering whether I'm not spending the right amount of time.

What don't I want to miss?
1. Quattro Canti, la Martorana and the Cathedral.
2. Vucciria, San Domenico and la Kalsa.
3. The Capuchin Convent, Mondello beach and Monreale.

I would've liked to see more (other markets like Ballaro and Capo), but I don't know whether I'm already expecting too much.

I'm also a bit concerned about Palermo itself. I'm very excited about visiting it, but I've read that it's a chaotic and stressing city, that's why I'm concerned about wanting to see too much in a place that probably wears you out quickly.

I'd thought of giving up Monreale, but, according to my bookguide and to everybody on this forum, it's supposed to be sublime. Is it really worth going all the up to Monreale to see a cathedral that looks very much like the inside of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice? I'm probably asking a stupid and ignorant question here, but I'd rather be honest with myself and find out whether or not I'm right, because I certainly don't want to spend precious time in something that I have the feeling that it will disappoint me.

Should I spend 5 nights instead of 4? Should I visit Monreale?

Thanks!
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Feb 18th, 2008, 04:23 AM
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For what it's worth, Monreale was the highlight of my trip to Palermo but I wouldn't spend 5 nights vs. 4 because there's just so much more to see in Sicily. Palermo is a busy, chaotic city, but I wouldn't call it stressful.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 04:54 AM
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I agree. Take the bus to Monreale. There is not anything more stressful about Palermo than any other fairly large city. Certainly four nights is enough (for me)..you could probably do what you planned with 3 unless you are planning on spending lots of time at the beach..

I think Ballaro might be a better bet than Vucciria..
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Feb 18th, 2008, 05:06 AM
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Can't remember exactly now but qwe spent either 5 days or maybe a week in Palermo, loved it and want to go back. We never made it to Monreale as there was so much to see and enjoy in the centre, but I wouldn't say don't go. The guidebook we used had good walks radiating out in each direction from the Quattro Canti and everything was fascinating. There were lots of very interesting churches - the Catrhedral was actually about the dullest - plus palaces ruined & not-ruined (at least one you can tour), gardens, fascist architecture, markets, interesting eateries... (Highly recommend eating on the balcony outside the Shangai restaurant (Italian not Chinese !) overlooking the Vucciria market. And a spleen in a roll at one of the other markets ) Just wandering about was the best thing, really. We also went to the opera at the Teatro San Massimo which was a nice experience.

We didn't find it any more stressful or tiring than any big city - just be careful as you would be in any big city.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 09:06 AM
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The cathedral at Monreale is not anything like San Marco in Venice. They both have mosaics, yes, but Monreale is full of light, San Marco is dark. Monreale is more or less Romanesque, San Marco is Byzantine. Also, the cloister at Monreale is unique and lovely.

The cathedral in Palermo, on the other hand, is completely forgettable.

La Kalsa is a district; I'm not sure what you want to see there.

Mondello is a sprawling beach resort.

If you want to see something uniquely Sicilian, go to one of the Baroque chapels - Oratorio di Santa Cisa or Oratorio del Rosario.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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You want to go inside the Palazzo Normanni, especially for the Cappella Palatina.

Teatro Massimo also has a short guided tour.
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Feb 18th, 2008, 09:21 AM
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I was only in Palermo three days, and half of one of those we went to Cefalu, but I felt I saw most of what I wanted. I never made it to Monreale but did see two beautiful mosiac chappels - one in Cefalu and Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo. When I posted my photos someone (I think it was Bob the Navigator, certainly an Italian expert) said I must have made a mistake with the captions because the photo was Monreale - which it couldn't have been since I never got there. So my point is, although I've heard, as you have that Monreale is wonderful, it must be pretty similiar to the one in the Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo. So perhaps if you go there you won't be missing much. Here the link to the photo I'm talking about - www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/47922893
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Feb 18th, 2008, 09:35 AM
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Isabel, thank you for posting your beautiful pictures. They are gorgeous!
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Feb 19th, 2008, 08:33 AM
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Hi, Valenciano -

I agree with the other posters who say that the cathedral in Monreale is absolutely wonderful and very different from San Marco. It is easy to reach by a bus (20 or 30 minutes, as I recall) from Palermo.

I also agree that Palermo is vibrant and dynamic and, in parts, a bit gritty. I did NOT find it stressful - I loved it!

Whether 4 or 5 nights is right for you depends on the pace of travel you prefer and whether that means 3 days or 6. I would think 3 or 4 days would likely be enough for the sites you list as highest priorities. As others have mentioned, however, there is a lot to see in Palermo, and you might want to add some of those special sites to your plans.

Hope that helps!
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Feb 19th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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Hmmm interesting!
Look at this page from my Sicily gallery to see what the altar looks like at Monreale. Now, tell me that the others are not just mere copies. Not uncommon in Italy---the David statue has been copied as well.
As for Palermo, we did 5 days and enjoyed it all.
http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...at=3828&page=3
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Feb 19th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Bobthenavigator, your picture entitled "Monreale masterpiece" is *not* of Monreale; it's the Cappella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni, which has unfortunately been disfigured by the replacement of some original figures by the three figures now behind the altar.

If you don't believe me, look here:
http://www.comune.palermo.it/musei/palatina/index.html

Also, because something resembles something, it is *not* a copy. There are certain styles, ways of doing things that predominate during certain petriods. One example of the style does not *copy* another example of the same style.

The Michelangelo Davids *are* copies.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 10:05 AM
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Valenciano,
For what you want to see in Palermo, I think 4 nights will be sufficient.
BTW, I don't know if you listed things according to the order in which you want to see them, but I wouldn't plan to do Mondello and Monreale on the same day. You could easily do Monreale on the same day as the sites in # 1. But don't skip it.
If you must skip something, you can skip Mondello. It's a lovely beach if you want to swim, but if you're just going to see it, I'd say that's the expendable site on your list.
And no need to stress. Palermo is not that chaotic -- as long as you're not driving.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 11:06 AM
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From wiki:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:M...e1%28js%29.jpg

They are very similar so perhaps you can skip one.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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Well I just opened the photo I took in Palazzo dei Normanni and the one Bob took that he says is Monreale both on the screen at the same time and they look to be identical. It's possible Bob mixed them up if he went to both, I couldn't have mixed them up because we ran out of time and never got to Monreal so I know mine is of Palazzo dei Normanni. In any event, given this debate it seems pretty obvious they are so similar as to make it probably not worth it to go to Monreale if you are short on time.

Look at these two shots side by side:
www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/47922893

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...23291&cat=3828
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Feb 19th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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kja
 
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I visited both the cathedral in Monreale and the Cappella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni. I truly enjoyed both, but would NOT say that visiting the Cappella Palatina could take the place of visiting Monreale. There are definitely some similarities - but the Monreale cathedral is on a much grander scale, and as Zerlina noted, Monreale also has an unforgetably marvelous cloister.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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>>so similar as to make it probably not worth it to go to Monreale<<

Except that Monreale is about three times as big as Cappella Palatina; except that Monreale's mosaics ar far more detailed and cover far more subject matter; except that Monreale's apse has not been disfigured by later additions; except that Monreale has a cloister that is genuinely unique...
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Feb 19th, 2008, 01:33 PM
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Absolutely visit both. The OP has plenty of time!
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Feb 19th, 2008, 06:04 PM
  #18
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Hi guys and thanks for your replies.

I'll definitely include Monreale in my itinerary since it won't take more than half a day.

By the way, does this walking tour sound doable?

http://www.frommers.com/destinations...135010008.html

Because, if it is, then 4 nights are more than enough.

Thanks.
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Feb 19th, 2008, 06:07 PM
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They are similar but mine is Monreale---I recall waiting to take the shot until the lights came on---and the Palazzo Normani was not open the day we went.
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Feb 20th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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kja
 
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Hi, Valenciano -

It depends on your preferred pace, but I think that walk is doable in a day (counting time to visit the key sights).

Enjoy!
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