Even The Floor Is Dazzling

If the 68,000 square feet of mosaic tiles on the walls of Monreale Cathedral don’t mesmerize you, perhaps the floor-designs will! Created by Byzantine-Arab-Norman craftsmen in the late 12th century, William II’s temple offers endless inspiration. The red stone is called red porphyry. The ancient emperors associated it with power during the Roman Empire. It…

What’s Your Favorite Style? 

Fans of architecture will love La Martorana church in Palermo. It’s initial construction started in the 1140s, exploiting the Arab-Norman style fostered by Roger II and in this case, his trusted admiral, George of Antioch. Then, over the centuries, it took on Baroque elements and other styles. It has Greek and Albanian influences because of…

Innocent and Majestic

This scene of Original Sin, that is, Adam and Eve with the snake from the Old Testament, is one of dozens of scenes that cover the walls of the Cathedral at Monreale. The Byzantine-style mosaic designs tell Biblical stories without words; however with incredible majesty–using glass, semiprecious stones, and hundreds of gold leaf tiles. Such…

Ancient Evidence of the Bikini: Enchanting Sicily, Day 5

The expansive ancient Roman estate of the Villa del Casale outside of Piazza Armerina was constructed between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. This scene of women athletes in the estate’s gymnasium is evidence that bikinis have existed for, well, a very long time! Known affectionately as “The Bikini Girls,” they, along with hundreds of…