Today we started the trip with the biggest tree in Europe that is located in a garden that was built originally for the purpose of hunting and was decorated with symbolic fences around. This gigantic tree is a type of banyan and was originally from Australia. It was so big that we could even see its top standing out from the other plantations in the garden far away. There was also an interesting story about a police officer from the States who came to Italy to investigate the Mafia that was related to the States and was murdered a few steps away from the tree.
We then walked through the blocks in Palermo and were told that this is a very catholic city that has 200 churches in total and we were going to visit 180 of them and walk five kilometers in total during the tour. While visiting several important churches in the town, we have found out that this city has a great amount of cultural and religious combinations. They were reflected on the style of architecture and history of the churches. For instance, many of the Catholic Churches in Palermo were once used as the Moor churches, and the sign of this historical significance could be seen through the floor decorations such as the patterns made by red and green marbles, which represent the concept of god in Muslim. In addition, it is also interesting that the art styles of different time periods could also be seen throughout the churches. For example, in another churches that we visited, we saw that the architecture styles can be actually divided into two sections, which is shown by the way that the ceiling and the paintings on the wall were partially made by small pieces of colorful stones, forming more simple and ancient looking images of the story about the church, indicating that this church was built in gothic style in the medieval period. Other parts of the church, however, was rebuilt or restored with more realistic paintings and patterns during Renaissance. At the same time, there are still walls and floors that are Moors style. Another interesting incidence is that we encountered a movie-making scene while visiting a historical block.
After visiting some marvelous churches in town, we went to a street market, which has lots of interesting products, especially cuisines and vegetables that are distinct and local to this area. The lunch also took place in the market. We got a chance to see the process of rice ball making and made a few by ourselves as well.
In the afternoon, we have had the best “Gelatto” (ice cream) in Sicily, and had some free time to go around the shopping area. In fact, there are thousands of artifacts in this city and even stopping by an ordinary street corner, there are some defensive walls that are over one thousand years old. We gathered in front of the largest theatre in Italy, the third largest one in Europe at 3:15 and went back to hotel from there.
By Haochen Long
Largest tree in Europe.
Only in Palermo: Norman-Moorish Architecture.
The only Byzantine mosaics in Sicily.