Monday, January 9, 2017

Cefalu and Monreale. Not Istanbul...where we wanted to take you.

       As our Elon classmates were getting ready for bed, we were waking up to make our way from Palermo to Monreale. On our way there we spoke of cloisters and Benedictine monks, which reminded me of the time 7 year old me snuck into the cloister at the St. Louis Abbey (Hi Munkle Joe!). Needless to say I was very excited for our first stop of the day.
       In Monreale we started by visiting the cathedral which was built to honor the Virgin Mary, which was a part of the traditional patron-client system in exsistence during the time. Much like the first chapel we visited, the cathedral was covered in golden mosaics from wall to ceiling depicting images of the new and old testaments. It got really interesting when we obsered the fromt of the church and noted thst the first row of angels and Madonna with child was accompanied by greek writing and the second row of saints had enscriptions in Latin. The writing together above the alter really showed a cross roads between the greek and roman churches, a confluence. On the lower half of the walls and floor i noted the continuing presence of the large green and red marble circles, a characterstic of Byzantium and found in sacred places all over Istanbul, including the Hagia Sophia (where we would be if not here, as Mike always says.)
      Then we moved on to the cloister, I promise I didn't sneak into this one, which is an outdoor reading, study, and relaxatiom area for the monks. Just like in our reading, we were able to see why the space was seen as somewhat of a "monstrosity;" the tops of the colums were decorated with images of humanoids, zodiac symbols, exotic predators mauling prey, acrobats, mermaids and worst of all... jugglers. The space was actually quite beatiful and we all ran from column to column to observe the figures that graced the top amidst the many carved vines and leaves.
      From here we drove on to Cefalu, a quaint sea side town with a very interestimg duomo. The duomo at Cefalu showed three different time period influences: the Normen, the Baroque, and the modern. The building began in the time of Norman king Roger II who was building it as a funerary duomo for him and his two wives, but he died young befire the duomo was completed. You could see it was a funerary duomo because the latin bible enscription above the alter held words of mercy and forgiveness and the mosaic of Jesus was wearing blue outer robes to symbolize his humanity and gold inner robes to sybolize his connection to god, his holiness. The nature  of the duomo was also visible through the fact that the Madonna mosaic was praying instead of holding the baby Jesus. The baroque period could be seen in the sculptures, reliefs, and paintings found just in front of the mosaics and the stained glass windows were created by modern artists.
      After our duomo excursion 5 of us (The Fearless Five) hiked all the way to the top of the mountain above Cefalu. We saw ramparts, ruins of an old castle, and ruins of the Greek temple of Diana. Not to mention the amazing views of Cefalu and the Mediterranean Sea.
      Then we drove to Agrigento where we wil spend the day tomorrow exploring Greek temples! On the way here we passed many mountains and fields covered in a Florida native I was wishing to stop the bus and make my first snowman...the northerners did not see why i was so excited. Maybe tomorrow will bring snow for my first snowman!

-Sarah Hope Dolce

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