Tuesday and Wednesday we explored parts of Palermo outside the old town. While not in the old town, they were certainly not new.I really didn’t expect to find a banyan tree here, but I couldn’t pass up a picture when I did.The International Museum of Marionettes has a collection of puppets and marionettes from around the world. Sicily has a unique form of puppetry that we will learn more about when we join our OAT trip.They had a lot of puppets on display!
Our second stop was Palazzo Mirta which is one of the few furnished houses in Palermo open to the public. It featured chandeliers, fancy wallpaper, painted ceilings, paintings, exotic furniture, and a wide variety of furnishings.The furniture and furnishings came from all over the world. I am sure Asian objects were the talk of the neighborhood!The patio featured a fountain that was unique in that all the design details were made of seashells.The dining room.We made a brief walk along the waterfront. The Harbor was filled with sailboats. You can see a Costa cruise ship in the background, but we only saw two Costa tours in the city. These city gates are located near the harbor.Our final stop on Tuesday was the inquisition cells at Palazzo Chiaramonte Sheri. The Palazzo was the home of one the most well known families in Sicily during the Middle Ages. In 1392, the head of the family was beheaded by the Spanish who mounted his head on the palace wall and converted his home into their headquarters. During the Spanish Inquisition of the 1600’s, the stables were converted into Jail cells for those awaiting trial. Sicily was hit hard by the Inquisition with many minorities expelled and the period of religious tolerance ended. To pass the time, the prisoners drew the drawings you see above on the prison wall using only dirt, food, and bodily fluids.
The Palatine Chapel in the Norman Palace takes your breath away with its walls fully covered with mosaics. According to Rick, we are going to see an even larger and more spectacular mosaic filled chapel later in our trip. I can’t wait!The Palace also had a small museum where this ivory chest was on display.Some highlights from the palace garden. Sorry about more tree roots.While you don’t often see them from the old town area, Palermo is surrounded by mountains.The Porta Nuova is adjacent to the Norman Palace.The San Giovanni Degli Ermiti church and convent was a pleasant stop. Tomorrow we begin our OAT tour.