March 23, 2012 (Day 17)
Pick up from Hotel in Monreale, drive an hour to Palermo airport
Fly from Palermo to Naples via Rome
Pick up Smart convertible rental car in Naples
Drive from Naples to Positano on the Amalfi Coast
Today we are departing Sicily after 2 wonderful weeks here. It is actually quite strange to think of leaving Sicily. Our breakfast at our hotel in Monreale is fairly small and really just consisted of different bread products. We spend the morning repacking our belongings so they would be airport approved and then had a couple hours to walk down to the main square in Monreale.
The main attraction is the Duomo here in the square and quite an attraction it is! Apparently someone wanted to build the most magics tic cathedral in the Palermo area and this duomo is completely filled with mosaic depictions of various bible stories. It must have taken a lot of time and patience to fill the interior with mosaics. The ceiling and upper walls and columns are all covered in mosaic tiles. The alter is also covered. There are stripes of mosaic shapes down the sides of the walls and the floor even has mosaic art. We toured around the inside and then took the stairs that went up to the roof of the duomo where we had views of all of Monreale, the square below, and all of Palermo down to the coast.
After our cathedral visit we poked our head into various pasticcerias looking for our last Sicilian sweets. We had a marvelously nutritious lunch consisting of a gelato each and then profiteroles for me and a large cannoli for Mark. On our way back to our hotel to meet our Siciclano contact would would take us to the airport, we bumped into his van and he gave us a ride back to the hotel. We grabbed our bags and off to the airport we went.
There really isn’t too much to say about our flight travels today. It was a bit odd to be getting on an airplane since we haven’t been on a plane in 2 weeks. Unfortunately, a couple weeks ago, Alitalia had contacted me to say that our direct flight from Palermo to Naples had been canceled and instead we were re-booked on a flight that first went to Rome where we changed planes to another one that flew to Naples. So instead of arriving in Naples at 3:30pm after a one hour flight, we landed at 6:30pm after 3 hours of travel and layover. Oh well. It all worked out just fine.
We did something different this time and rented our car from a rental car agent of sorts rather than a big name agency like Avis or Hertz. Instead, I rented our convertible Smart car from Naplescarrent.com. I have to admit that I was skeptical of this discount dealer, but it worked out wonderfully. I give them an excellent review so far. Our Smart car was nearly brand new. We were met at the airport by two people holding a sign with my name who lead us to our car. The main contact spoke perfect English and spent about 10 minutes going over the car with me and making sure I knew how to work everything, how to get where we were going, and what to do when I got there. I was given exact driving directions on where to drop off the car at a hotel next to the Naples train station on our way back and soon we were on our way.
There was a main autostrada, or highway for about half of our drive in the dark towards Positano, and then we were on a more minor road. Still it was easier to find our hotel in the dark than I originally thought. Our hotel host had emailed me asking when to expect us and when we arrived she had a map all ready for us with a location for us to go eat dinner. Our room looks perfect, there is a free internet connection and we should have a great view out our porch when we wake up.
For the past several days we’ve been without a good internet connection, so we were both dying to get online. First, one hotel’s modem broke, so no internet. Then, the next hotel said they had free wifi, but we could never access it and it was powered by a 3rd party so the hotel could not help us. Then, the last hotel didn’t even have internet at all. So, we’ve been delayed in getting posts out. Thank goodness we’ve had decent data connections on our phones at least.
Dinner was excellent with Mark and I sharing gnocchi and beefsteak and then we came back to the hotel to fall asleep. Tomorrow we look forward to doing a whole lot of nothing. Until then…