The stunning cobbled design of the alleyway above is typical of the stonework in Erice on Sicily’s western coast. Utterly captivating, the town seemed as if enveloped in a medieaval timewarp high up on Mount Erice, 751 metres above sea level. Erice was an unforeseen delight with its spectacular 360-degree views over the city of Trapani, towards Marsala in the west, the dramatic Punta del Saraceno and Capo San Vito to the north-east, and the Aegadian Islands to the north-west. Steeped in history, the town exuded a mysterious air with exciting design discoveries around every corner. I was also partial to the local delicacy – deliciously warm ricotta pastries.
‘Palermo architecture – a synthesis of cultures.’
These three images taken in Palermo are testament to the fact that outstanding colour and design can be found in the most unexpected of places. Over 2700 years old, the city boasts a wonderful combination of history, culture, architectural design and gastronomy. Palermo’s Byzantine architecture is fused with a magnificent Arabian Orientalism – a result of its chequered history of conquest. The unbelievably beautiful Cappella Palatina is decorated with a mixture of Byzantine, Arabic and Norman elements – the Normans simultaneously controlled England and Sicily after 1066.
‘Cattedrale Di Monreale, outside Palermo.’
This stunning floor mosaic cycle in the Cattedrale Di Monreale outside Palermo was completed 1184 by William II, third Norman King of Sicily using Byzantine craftsman. The entire Cathedral floor is worked with the most impressive mosaic patterns that shimmer in gold and lapis lazuli. The designs feature traces of Arabic culture, and while they’re all different, their striking colours work cleverly and gently together to create a harmonious whole. Just beautiful.
‘The Greek Doric Temple at Segesta. Wow.’
Segesta is one of the best preserved and most beautiful of all the Greek temples in Sicily – and I found it utterly hypnotic. Created in the 5th Century BC it’s perched high on a hill overlooking green countryside that stretches right down to the sea. Begun by Erice’s indigenous population – the Elymians – its magical 36 columns achieve a symmetrical perfection that is totally spellbinding. As I wandered around this magnificent structure, I felt amazed at its continued solidity. Earthquakes had ravaged many of the other Greek temples I visited during this trip – in Agrigento and Selinunte – but The Greek Temple at Segesta still stands mesmerisingly strong.