A trip in the Arab-Norman UNESCO site in Sicily – Road.Travel

A trip in the Arab-Norman UNESCO site in Sicily

Road Trip Route. WHL UNESCO sites, Discovering the Norman Kings, Incredible gold mosaics and monuments, Traditional food, .

Welcome to Palermo, a city of sourthen Italy and the capital of the region of Sicily. I'm Jasmine Blanco and I will be your guide in this trip: we are going to visit the "Arab-Norman UNESCO site" which is a serial site, made by a group of monuments, and one of the most interesting itinerary of our beautiful island. Together, we will discover the beauties that the Arab and the Norman dominations in our land left us; it will be a full immersion in an important artistic and historical period. Our itinerary will start to Palermo and will continue to nearby Monreale and Cefalù. So now let's get ready to enjoy this trip, to discover an itinerary that will surprise us! *Credits: This tour was made by Jasmine Tiffany Blanco, as a multimedia tourist and storytelling project for the "Laboratory of formal technical writing (storytelling and gamification)", under the coordination of Prof. Elisa Bonacini, within the ITS 2-years COURSE "Higher Technician for the management of tourist accommodation facilities and cultural activities", 2019-2021, founded by the ITS Archimede Foundation at the CUMO Eastern Mediterranean University Consortium, in Noto (Syracuse).*

💥 Try for Free, History and Culture, Arts and Creativity, Gastronomy. From: Palermo

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Travel Itinerary and Road Trip Route

Day 1: Day 1- Palermo

As soon as you arrive in the Palermo airport, rent a car and drive to the apartment that will hosts you! Let's do check in, have lunch and then we start the tour from the Palazzo dei Normanni, then we will go first to the near Palazzo dei Normanni with the Cappella Palatina inside, starting to know the wonders that the Normans left in the city!

Palermo Airport (PMO) (Aeroporto di Palermo)

Welocome to the Falcone- Borsellino airport! So now rent a car and then go to the Quattro canti Apartments in Palermo!


After about 40 minutes driving, we are finally in Palermo, the city that we are going to discover in its beauty, during this 4 days trip!

Al Vicolo

After checked, you can go and have lunch in the nearby restaurant, where you could start tasting the typical dishes of the city. If you want a little suggestion, fish dishes are highly recommended!

Palazzo dei Normanni

Your very first step of the visit is the amazing "Palazzo dei Normanni" which will allow you to get to know one of the most important Arab-Norman buildings in Sicily, which testifies what that domination left us.

Cappella Palatina

I'm sure you will not believe your eyes, while entering the Palatine Chapel, which is set at the first floor of Palazzo dei Normanni! Gold and wonderful figures everywhere will leave you breathless!

Cattedrale di Palermo

The Cathedral of Palermo is a traesure of the Norman architecture in Sicily; and also is one one the most important monuments of our istand! If you want to have a virtual view of the beauties of the Cathedral of Palermo, here is [a virtual tour for you](http://www.ghelfi360.com/2016/assunta/)

Piazza Bellini

Not so far from the "Palazzo dei Normanni", I suggest to park your car and go for a walk around some of the most important squares of the city, so let's do a little pit stop and enjoy your walk around! We will return here to visit the Churches you see one in front of the other!

Piazza Della Vergogna

The second beautiful square of our first day in Palermo is Piazza Pretoria. Here you can see the difference between this two places; despite the proximity, the first one is of an Arab-Norman architectural style, while this is in late renaissance style.

Chiesa di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria

If you will see open the door of this church, enter and you will see one of the most beautiful baroque churches in the city!

Quattro Canti

Before your dinner, walk to the hotel but in the meantime take a nice tour of the historic district that hosts your apartment in the very famous Quattro Canti!

Ciccio Passami L'olio

It's dinner time! And we're in Italy... is there anything better than a good pizza?

Day 2: Day 2- Monreale and Palermo

Our second day I will take you to Monreale to visit another great Norman UNESCO site, take a little tour of the city, and then return to Palermo and visit other places in the city!

Chiostro di Monreale

Welcome to Monreale, which names derives from the latin Mons regalis, the mountain of the kings! Here you will discover a very beautiful town, not so far from Palermo, with its well-known Cathedral! The city of Monreale is famous all over the world and in 2015 even UNESCO recognized its artistic and architectural importance: its famous Cathedral is one of the places of historical and cultural interest of the “Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale" serial site.

Cattedrale e chiostro di Monreale

The Cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest existent examples of Norman architecture, it was begun in 1174 by the king William II of Sicily. In 1182 the church, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, by a bull of Pope Lucius III, was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan cathedral. Since 2015 it is part of the Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale UNESCO Heritage site. The church is a national monument of Italy and one of the most important attractions of Sicily. Its size is 102 meters long and 40 meters and is covered by wonderful mosaics! You will be enhanced by the beauty of its mosaics, by Christ who watches and blesses you from above and by the cloister decorated with beautiful columns! Hera are a virtual tour of the beauties of the [Monreale Cathedral](http://www.ghelfi360.com/2016/monrealehd/) and a virtual tour of the [Benedictine cloister](http://www.ghelfi360.com/2016/chiostro/)

Bricco & Bacco

After your visit at the cathedral, I suggest this restaurant for a good lunch, and then let's start your tour again!

Fontana Monreale

Let's stop to admire the fountain of the city, and its surroundings before return to Palermo!

Orto Botanico

Your trip isn't only on the feet of the Arab Norman beauty traces in this area of Sicily. In Palermo you can also visit one of the most important Botanical Gardel of Europe. So let's start this interesting visit that will immerse you in nature!

Chiesa della Martorana

The church of Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio is named after George of Antioch, Admiral of the Fleet of Roger II (Second) of Sicily. This church is another great example of the Arab Norman architecture in the city and it is incredible, here, to see how the Norman mosaics could have blended so well with the frescoes of the Baroque phase! Here you will see incredible mosaics, such as the very famous one with King Roger II crowned directly by Christ, just on the right corner after the entrance!

Chiesa di San Cataldo

Next to La Martorana is the San Cataldo Church, an example of the wonderful Arabian-Norman architecture. San Cataldo is one of the sites in Palermo inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, but here you will adire a nude architecture, without mosaics, which is incredible suggestive in its nudity! Founded around 1160 by admiral Majone di Bari, in the 18th century the church was used as a post office. In the 19th century it was restored and brought back to a form more similar to the original Mediaeval edifice. It has a rectangular plan with blind arches, partially occupied by windows. The ceiling has three characteristics red, bulge domes and Arab-style merlons. The church provides a typical example of the Arab-Norman pavements, which you admired inside other monuments, such as the Palatine Chapel.

Pani Ca' Meusa - Portacarbone (dal 1943)

Pane ca meusa is one of the of the typical dishes of the city! This restaurant is one of the oldest typical restaurant of Palermo; here you will taste this and other very famous typical dishes!


Enjoy some drinks, and listen to good music before to go to your apartment at the end of the day!

Day 3: Day 3- Cefalù and Palermo

The third day I will take you to Cefalù, a journey that will make you discover a very beautiful sea town and another Norman jewel which is part of the UNESCO list of our itinerary! In the afternoon we will back in Palermo, to continue our visit of the city!


After a good breakfast, it's time to ride to Cefalù! Cefalù is a beautiful sea town on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily and is one of the major tourist attractions in the region. Despite its size, every year it attracts millions of tourists from all parts of Sicily and also, from all over Italy and Europe, for its incredible beauty and its seaside. I suggest to park your car outside the center of the city and have a little walk through it.

Spiaggetta Del Porto

Let's relax before starting your tour, let's enjoy the view of the sea, and then let's go to visit the monuments that interest us!

Piazza Duomo

Let's admire this square before to start your visit to the near and suggestive Duomo, from which the square takes its name "Piazza Duomo"

Duomo di Cefalù

The Cathedral, begun in 1131, was built in a Norman architecture style, which would be more accurately called Sicilian Romanesque. The exterior is well preserved, and is largely decorated with interlacing pointed arches; the windows also are pointed. On each side of the façade is a massive tower. The round-headed Norman portal is worthy of note. A semi-circular apse is set into the east end wall. Its strengthening counterforts that work like buttresses, are shaped as paired columns to lighten their aspect. The groined vaulting of the roof is visible in the choir and the right transept, while the rest of the church has a wooden roof. Fine cloisters, coeval with the cathedral, adjoin it. The cathedral is one of nine structures comprising the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale. If you want to have a virtual tour of the beauties of Cefalù Cathedral here is a [virtual tour for you](http://www.ghelfi360.com/2016/cefalu/)!

Museo Mandralisca

Museo Mandralisca may not rank among Italy’s (or Sicily’s) largest cultural attractions, but visitors say it’s still worth making a stop. That’s because this small, privately owned destination is a Mecca for Greek ceramics, Arab pottery and some incredible Italian Renaissance portraits, such one a very famous Unknown Sailor, painted by Antonello da Messina, which has known as "The second most famous smile in the world after the Mona Lisa", as [you can read here](https://cefalu.it/en/magazine-en/the-emotion-of-the-unknown-sailor-by-antonello-da-messina/). The museum dates back nearly two centuries and houses the personal art collection of Barone Mandralisca.

Al Faro

Let's do a good lunch in this nice restaurant!

Punto Panoramico

Let's enjoy the panoramic view of the city before heading to your next destination!

Castello Cefalu

During the 11th century the area was conquered by the Normans and they probably built this beautiful Castle around 1063. The present building probably dates back to the 12th century. Archaeological evidence tells that it was probably destroyed by fire at the end of the 13th century. The castle was used during the 14th and 15th centuries, underwent extensive rearrangements between the 16th and 17th century and during the 19th century saw the total and definitive abandonment of the complex that, meanwhile, had lost military importance. The top of Cefalù Rock with the castle now serves as a archaeological city park. It is freely accessible during daytime. Getting to the castle however is quite hard as the only way to get up this 270 meters high mountain is walking up a very long and winding footpath. And although the ruins may not be that impressive, the views from the rock over the surrounding land and sea are beautiful.

Piazza San Domenico

Our evening continues in the name of relax, so let's take a walk around this square before going to dinner

Zangaloro Meat Factory

It's dinner time, so... let's go! In this place you can taste some great sandwiches! Zangaloro blends the culinary tradition of Palermo with quality ingredients and new interpretations of cuisine!

Piazza Ruggero Settimo

This is one of the most beautiful squares where you can have a pleasant walk in the evening in Palermo, enjoying the splendid buildings that surround you, such as the magnificent Politeama Theater, built in neoclassical style!


Before returning home, have a piece of cake to the very famous Spinnato cafe! I suggest to taste the cassata siciliana or a ricotta cannolo...or everything else you will decide to taste! After a look at all the displayed cakes, it will be very difficult for you to choose!

Day 4: Day 4- Last day in Palermo and departure

This is our's last day here! Let's have a good breakfast before going out to visit the last places on our list! The very first step will be the last splendid points of interest in the city; like the Zisa or the Massimo Theater! Let's allow yourselves one last typical lunch and then you can finally go to the airport waiting for your flight home!

Castello della Zisa

Let's start with another amazing example of Arab Norman architecture that enriches the city! It's difficult now, but you have to imagine this squared palace just immersed in an enormous park, full of plants, animals and fish pools! It was a real Paradise to stay during the hot summers in Palermo, for the Arabs and the Normans! If you want to have a virtual view of Zisa here is a [virtual tour for you](http://www.ghelfi360.com/2016/castellozisa/)!

Villino Florio

The Villino Florio is a monumental historic building, located near the Zisa in Palermo. It is the representative office of the Sicilian Region. It is one of the first Art Nouveau architectural works in Italy and is considered one of the masterpieces of Art Nouveau even at a European level! Definitely it deserves a visit!

Lo Strascino

This is your last lunch in Palermo! So let's take a last typical fish dish, in this restaurant, which is one of the most famous in Palermo!

Teatro Massimo

The magnificent theater undoubtedly needs to be your last stop, before leaving the city! I suggest a wonderful rest on its stairs (and many selfies!) and a guided tour inside!