|Watching for the Mafia at the Focacceria|
We woke up the next morning to loud booms--like bombs going off very close to our apartment. It was actually kind of scarey, but there were no sirens after the booms stopped so we figured it was safe to go out. Turned out that they were part of a festival celebration put on by the church in our neighborhood.
We only had a couple of hours before we needed to take the bus to the airport, so rather than attending the religious festival we headed to the Palazzo Normani at the edge of town, where we had seen only a glimpse of the famous mosaics in the Capella Palantina on a previous trip to Palermo, the main portion of the chapel having been covered in scaffolding for restoration. The restoration has now been completed, so we were eager to see the results. Not to be, however: we arrived at the ticket window, the ticket seller told us something (whatever, smile, OK), we bought the expensive tickets (17 euros for the two of us), and we climbed the steps to the entrance. Ropes--no entry. We were directed up the stairs to the palace apartments, so we figured we needed to go there to get to the chapel. Waited in line with a bunch of other people for about 30 minutes, the line behind us growing all the time, but no movement. The man in front of us, who I thought was French, shook his head in disgust. I chimed in, "Italia!" (i.e., that's the way it is in Italy, no?). Oops, he was Italian. "Non," he said, "Sicilia!" He proceeded to tell me (in Italian) that he was from Bologna, up north, and things run smoothly there. Sicily, in contrast, was "Africa...Morocco..."--definitely NOT Italia! Interesting perspective.
|Sure looks Italian to me|
|Inside the Blue Mosque|