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Monreale or Norman Castle?

We have two days in Palermo and have to choose 1 - either Monreale or Normal Castle - any thoughts? We do have a car. Any other suggestions on must sees in Palermo besides the Palermo Cathedral, the markets? We are already doing Segeste & Selinute (on our way to Agrigento). Also - Trapani or Erice? Thanks!

Posted by
747 posts

Monreale is the most amazing Church that I have visited in Europe. The interior was decorated in beautiful tile work instead of frescos so it is just nice today as it was 800 yrs ago. The columns inside the sanctuary are from the Temple of Venus that was across from the Colosseum in Rome. I felt it was one of the highlights of the RS Sicily tour! Don't miss it!

Posted by
5881 posts

Decide which place when you see what the weather is like. We liked Monreale for the views, did not visit the castle. Erice is a small town, easily visited on your way to stay in Trapani, IMO. Thats the nice thing about Sicily - tons of sights within a short drive of each other.

Posted by
16 posts

We stayed in Trapani and visited Erice from there. We enjoyed both but if could only see one would probably choose Erice. Erice can be shrouded in the clouds, like thick fog but you can get a good idea as to conditions looking up from below.

Posted by
18701 posts

I'd choose Monreale but want to be sure all realize there are fine mosaics in the Capella Palatina within the Norman Castle. It's a shame you can't squeeze in both.

The markets in Palermo are definitely fun.

Trapani's very pretty, but Erice is a medieval hill town, probably more distinct from other things you'll be seeing on this trip.

I, on the other hand, did all of the above and skipped the Greek sites, which just don't interest me.

Posted by
90 posts

Drive to the top of Monte Pellegrino. It is just outside the city of Palermo and has beautiful views. After that, take a short drive over to Mondello, which has a beach. Buy a gelato and take a walk around the docks and enjoy the views of the water / mountains.

Posted by
240 posts

Just did a two-week road trip around Sicily. You could see both the Norman Palace and Monreale in two days if you plan carefully. Both are beautiful.

Be aware that the temple at Segesta is currently covered in scaffolding for repairs. They are still charging the full entry price. Selinunte was great. You can’t drive to the Acropolis like RS suggests anymore, you have to walk or take the golf cart.

I stayed in Trapani for two nights but wasn’t that impressed. Erice was beautiful. Happy to answer any other Sicily questions for you!!

Posted by
6481 posts

Monreale, no contest here.
Glad you are including Segesta and Selinunte. For Selinunte, have lunch by the water in Marinella di Selinunte at Boffo’s, fabulous seafood! This is just beyond Selinunte, to the south.
And get the golf cart pass to take you around Selinunte as it is a huge area.

Posted by
3125 posts

We thoroughly enjoyed the cathedral at Monreale, but other than it and some views, there’s little else there. I haven’t been to the Norman Palace in Palermo, so can’t comment on it, assuming it’s the castle you were referring to. Castello di Venere In Erice is nice from the exterior but not worth the small admission fee to go in. Norman Castello di Caccamo between Palermo and Cefalu is worth visiting. In Palermo we visited both Chiesa di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria and Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio churches. When we showed our ticker from the former we received a discount at the latter. Both churches are by the Fontana Pretoria. Around the corner from the fountain is Piazza Quattro Canti. It’s an interesting corner with four fountains and statues in niches above the fountains. We also stopped at the Cattedrale di Palermo to get out of the rain, but we’re not Impressed when compared to the other churches. We stayed in Monreale and took a bus into Palermo. A 5 or so miles distance took about an hour because of the traffic.

I agree with Suki to buy the golf cart pass as the distance between temples would require a lot of walking since they are spread out. After Agrigento, we only visited the closest temple at Selinunte. Similar to churches and castles, after a while they all look alike.

We stayed in Erice and it’s charming after the day trippers leave. On the down side, most shops close early as do restaurants, so there’s little to do there after about 9pm. With the winding road up to Erice, once we got up there we didn’t move the car. Our hotel had free parking and a magnificent view from our room. We took the cable car to Trapani. I wasn’t overly impressed, but there’s probably more to do there at night. If you’re only going to stay one night, I’d choose Erice.

Posted by
91 posts

just got back from a mainly sicily trip. i did everything on public transportation but I spent more time in palermo than you are planning. the castle was closed in late june but the cappella palatina was open. it is an amazing experience but so was monreale. both are close to palermo and can be done in one day, especially if you are driving. for a taste of norman i suggest san cataldo, san giovanni degli ermiti, palazzo della cuba, castello della ziza and basilica la magione. all these sites are within palermo city. see images on the internet and decide which one, if not all of these, you want to see. i would strongly suggest cefalu for a bigger dose of norman but with 2 days, you will have to sacrifice something else. i understand the fascination of americans and northern europeans with the markets of palermo but me being from india we have a balaro at every corner! the food, however, is not to be missed. my favorites, pasta con sarde and panino con panelle e crocche. segesta is incredible though as noted there's scaffolding. it was being taken down on the back end the day i was there. also, i agree with others that trapani is not particularly interesting. it's a great base for visiting erice though. erice is fantastic but i was there on a clear day so can't comment on what it looks like when foggy. as a photographer, i think a light fog would make it even more romantic, or spooky depending on your taste! enjoy your travels and know that it's going to be hot and sweaty!

Posted by
760 posts

We did the Norman Palace because it was right in Palermo and didn't need to spend time getting to Monreale. When I posted my photos when I got back some people tried to correct my captions telling me the ones from the Norman Palace were Monreale - which obviously they were not as I had not been there. Point being - even though I can't say for sure since I didn't see those in Monreale - the ones in the Norman Palace are just as good.

I loved Erice. Our hotel was in Trapani but Erice was the highlight.

Here's my Sicily photos -