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Report 2005: Naples & Sicily: Warmly Welcomes Travelers

By teezee from US, Spring 2012

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Page 13 of 13: Monreale, Palermo and Home

We were losing much of the group the next day, and decided our final “whole group” destination would be Monreale. Some of us would fly home from Palermo the next day and others had a day longer. As with the Valley of the Temples, it is impossible to imagine why any new words are needed to describe the mosaics in this church, or its architecture, cloisters, wood and ceramic and tile work, etc. Whatever you read cannot do it justice, as your own eyes, mind and heart will surely do. Park in the lot at the bottom and either walk up or take a cab (€3) if you want to save energy for the church and town. Lunch at the very pleasant Taverna del Pavone about a block off the square ended our trip as a group and we all agreed that we very much hoped for a return engagement with each other and with Sicily.

Those who remained headed off for a last stop at Villa Cefala, a lovely Agriturismo estate outside of Palermo, in Santa Flavia, with lemon and olive groves, a fine pool, and really good air conditioning. We liked this place and its friendly and helpful staff tremendously and felt it was an extremely good value.

Our last day was spent exploring the Palatine chapel and surrounds in Palermo, yet another city we knew deserved more time and attention. We made the mistake of assuming we should stay near the airport given a very early flight: Cinisi is near the airport but it costs €35 to get five kilometers thanks to airport taxes and gouging. Palm Beach Hotel did not, alas, match up to any place else we stayed, but it was just an overnight and couldn't spoil our joy in this trip. Sicily is a remarkable destination in late spring: it fills the eyes, mind, heart and stomach with joy.

Viva La Sicilia!

Tip: Some of us with an early flight out of Palermo thought it would be less stressful to stay near the airport in Cinisi. While Cinisi is merely 5 kilometers away for reasons known only to the those who set prices, cabs or even hotel shuttles from allegedly “airport” hotels cost €35 (this cost was divided among four occupants but was the most expensive “per mile” cost we encountered on our trip.) Palermo center is only 30 minutes from the airport and you might do better to stay at a lovely in-town hotel given the cost of the Cinisi/Airport trip. Also, folks we met at the airport told us they had returned their car to the rental place as a drop off before it was open because of their early flight only to discover that the shuttle didn’t run from the rental car drop-off to the airport and they had to hoof it with their bags! So double check your drop-off plans.

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