Friday, April 17, 2009

If it's Thursday, This MUST be Palermo

Our weekly Thursday morning trip to Palermo to meet with the West Coast Elephants turned out to be a very busy day.

Mt. Etna looming over a vineyard as we leave Catania.

The Monreale Cathedral

Our first stop was the city of Monreale located about 10 kilometers outside of Palermo. I consider their Cathedral to be the most beautiful one in Sicily by far!

The Cathedral was built in 1172 by William II and is a combination of Arab and Norman architectural styles.  The front that you see here is done in the Norman style. 

While the back of the Casthedral is of
Arab influence.

This HUGE statue greets you as you are about to pay the 1.50 Euro entry fee.

Not to be outdone, an equally HUGE statue of Mary is located at the other end of the exterior entry hall.

Gold Mosaics

It is the interior of the Cathderal that has made it famous.  The marble and mosaics are great but it is the gold mosaics that set the Monreale Cathedral apart.

An apparition?

Christ Pantocrator

This mosaic in the middle apse dominates the Cathedral.  How did they do this 800 years ago?

Exquisite Marble

Easter Vestments still on display.

Wall reliefs on a side chapel.

One of many Norman Castle symbols on the marble floor.

A new art lover hard at work recording the awe with his Dad's help.

One of many Confessionals

Marble Holy Water Fount

The Ceiling is incredible as well.

Cross and Portal

After spending a good hour touring the Cathedral and taking some time for an adult beverage on one of the Cathedral Piazza's many small outdoor eateries, we decided to head to north edge of Palermo to the beach at Mondello.

All last year I was told that Mondello was one of the very best beaches in all of Sicily.

They may be right!

Over 100 years old, the beautiful Kursaal Bathhouse is the centerpiece of
Mondello's beachfront.

The lower part of the Jursaal Bathhouse is the home of the very upscale
Charleston Restaurant.

Beach Boy

Mondello's Water... WOW!

Mondello was once a small village of
tuna fisherman.

All in all, I can't wait to get back to Mondello when it heats up to really take advantage of the scene at this great Sicilian beach. 

Now it was time to meet with the West Coast Elephants.  We use this workout to get them up to speed on any adjustments or additions we are making to the playbook for our upcoming game on Sunday against the Reggio Emilia Hogs.  We went over the plan, answered questions, ran through some drills and ran some conditioning.

Calcio/Soccer players' interest was peeked watching us work out.

DB Manolo Gariffo tries to catch his breath during conditioning while players from the team scheduled to take over our field next look on in wonder.


The calcio kids were fascinated to find out that their hands actually have value as sports tools, something that seemed "eeempossible" just moments before.

Newborn WR Domenico (One name only, PLEASE!) wanted to go one-on-one vs. Manolo who was up for the extra work.  I gave him my intricate hand signal that he recognized as meanning beat him deep!

Domenico is a NATURAL!

Domenico made a GREAT sight adjustment as Manolo used a last second bail technique to take away the streak route.  He instantly converted his route into a 5 yard hitch, I saw it too and we clicked for an easy FIRST DOWN!  We were like Montana and Rice!

Hey, if we can get Domenico's Mom to say yes, maybe I could be the Elephants' new QB and he could be my go to receiver.
Domenico holding his first ever Game Ball

Although he was a run-away choice for MVP of the game, we actually found three other excellent receivers who all bring skills to the field.

Though "toasted" tonight by my stable of young receivers, Manolo shows the mental resiliency that all good DB's must have after a bad night against a high flying offense like the one he saw tonight.

Meanwhile, we raced back to Catania to catch the tail end of our emergency practice for Wide Receivers and Defensive Backs only so they could work out with...

Our NEW Quarterback who arrived in Catania at 11:00 a.m.

Davide, our new QB Arturo Sanchez, me, Paul and the Olive Oil King Gregorio

Arturo was the starting QB for the Palermo Sharks last season and was second in the league in passing yards behind our own Jason Johnson.

He threw NINE TD passes against us in our two games last season.


Claud said...

i'm so fast you can barely see me.
(i'm that white flash sprinting while arturo's releasing)


George said...

You are S-L-O-W compared to Domenico!

Brianda said...

Mr. Contreras I see all the pictures in this blog and it just makes me want to get up, get on a plain to Italy and experience it my self. WOW I cant wait to be there and be able to experience it.... I see that you are having a lot of fun :D IM SO JEALOUS ....