In the piazza in front of the cathedral we found this local artist at work. I confess I didn’t feel tempted to buy any of his paintings, but I enjoyed watching him engrossed in his work, and he seemed happy for me to take as many photos as I wanted.
Of course the big attractions in Monreale are the cathedral and the adjacent cloisters, but it’s worth taking the time to explore the back streets too, for a look at everyday life in Sicily. Head uphill away from the cathedral and you’ll find yourself wandering between houses in varying states of repair (some newly renovated, some apparently uninhabited), with stone balconies and old wooden doors. There are little churches, shrines with faded images and fresh flowers, patches of greenery and a few level places between the steep steps where children play football and adults stop to gossip.
Between the buildings you’ll get glimpses of the amazing views of Palermo below and the blue bay beyond. Nearer the centre where there are more tourists you’ll find some interesting shops and galleries, a few trattoria and some friendly local bars.
Right behind Monreale cathedral lie these lush, charming streets, which offer a good complement to the touristic visit of the cathedral. So have a stroll if you have the time, as this will give you a better insight into modern Sicily.