crown of stars

One of the things I valued from my time in Sicily was the way our tour operator, Allison Scola, of Experience Sicily tours, designed a trip for us that provided many opportunities to learn about Sicily’s long history and the variety of cultures that have played a role in that history. Allison would use our bus travel time to talk about not only history, but mythology, religions traditions, music, agriculture, and many other topics. And she got it that a bunch of photographers would want to spend approximately forever everywhere we went, making photographs.

And, of course, she followed up by scheduling us to see many of the things she’d talked about. And that’s how, late one Saturday afternoon, we heard the history of the famed Monreal Cathedral and then got to visit.

The cathedral was commissioned by the Norman King William III; it was built in just over ten year’s timed it was completed in 1267. The interior of the cathedral includes nearly 70,000 square feet of glass mosaics. Many of them are gold so the whole space has a sort of glow unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

According to our guide* the building show a combination of Norman, Byzantine, Italian, and Saracen styles. And some of the workers who build the cathedral were Muslim. It is an ecumenical sort of place.

And because I went against conventional wisdom to make black and white images of a place known for its colorful mosaics, here’s a photo from my phone, to give you an idea of what the place looked like.

Monreal Cathedral
Monreal, Sicily
photographed 9.3.2022


*Italian tourism guides are required to be licensed. They have to pass a rigorous exam that covers their knowledge of history, geography, art, architecture, museums and galleries, churches, and cultural features. It made all the difference to have guides with such broad knowledge about the things we saw and the places we visited. (Pictured is our Monreal guide, Chiara Sciortino.)


Posted on October 6, 2022, in Photography. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wonderful post. My father is from Sicily. But it is my mother who says “Oh! Another star in your crown!” when you’ve done something good and kind.


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