Monreale: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening

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Joel Fulleda

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One of the most sought after destinations by travelers visiting the north of Sicily. The city of Monreale is famous all over the world and in 2015 also theUNESCO has recognized its artistic and architectural importance. Its famous cathedral and its magnificent mosaics, which rival those of the Palatine Chapel, are part of the places of historical and cultural interest of the site called "Arab-Norman Palermo and the cathedrals of Cefalù and Monreale". The city stands in an elevated position with respect to Palermo and the Conca d'Oro plain. Despite this it is developed in urban continuity with the Sicilian capital, which is about 10 km away.

To visit the town and its main attractions at your leisure, consider at least a full day. So here's a little guide of Monreale: what to see, where to eat and what to do in the evening.


  1. 10 things to see in Monreale in a weekend
  2. What to see in Monreale in one day: recommended itinerary
  3. Where to eat in Monreale: the best restaurants
  4. What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Monreale
  5. Plan your stay in Monreale: info and useful tips
  6. User questions and comments

10 things to see in Monreale in a weekend

1 - Piazza Vittorio Emanuele

La main square of the country, or rather, the first one encountered upon entering the village. The Cathedral faces it and in the center is the famous marble fountain called Fontana del Tritone, the work of the Palermo sculptor Mario Rutelli who executed it in 1881.

The marble basin has a circular shape, in the center is the figure of a man on the rocks, Triton, in fact, who with a heroic gesture and superhuman strength overcomes the fury of the dragons that emerge from the waters and tramples them. The work symbolizes man's victory over brute forces.

  • Bus 389P from Palermo Indipendenza to Palazzo Reale Fontana Del Drago (30 min, € 2,00). The terminus is about 600m away on foot and the square can be reached in 8 minutes on foot - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

2 - Cathedral

Together with the adjacent monastery is the symbol of Monreale. The Cathedral of Monreale is part of the World Heritage of Humanity and can be included in the list of the most important medieval churches in the world. It is no coincidence that tourists come from all over the world to admire it.

The exterior has a main façade inserted inside two asymmetrical towers of different height and shape; the rear part, which presents the convexity of the three apses with three levels of intertwined arches enriched with polychrome decorations, is an admirable example of Arabic art. Once you cross the threshold, here is the magic, a riot of mosaics which compete, for beauty and quantity, with those of the Palatine Chapel of Palermo.
Given its importance and complexity, a guided tour of the cathedral with a focus on the magnificent golden mosaics is highly recommended.

  • the entrance is in Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, to the left of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele - Get directions
  • from Monday to Saturday 8: 30-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00, Sunday and holidays 8: 00-10: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30
  • € 4,00
  • guided tour of the cathedral, monastery and mosaics

3 - Monastery of San Benedetto

Adjacent to the Cathedral is the monastery of San Benedetto, another unmissable pearl of Monreale. The cloister of the monastery is presented in the most traditional conformation of the building. With a square plan in Romanesque style and characterized by splendid twin columns, some in Arabic style. In the center of the cloister there is a wonderful garden with a palm-shaped fountain from whose leaves water gushes.

In this monastery, first William I and then his successor, hosted the monks who had called to supervise the Cathedral itself. Abbot Teobaldo himself became the first archbishop of the new archdiocese.

  • entrance directly from inside the Cathedral - Get directions
  • from Monday to Saturday 8: 30-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00, Sunday and holidays 8: 00-10: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30
  • € 4,00

4 - Mosaics of the Cathedral

The pride of the Cathedral of Monreale are the beautiful mosaics famous all over the world that cover its interiors. Over 130 Byzantine mosaics depicting episodes from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the lives of the saints, divided into cycles according to the story they tell. I'm gold mosaics, commissioned by William II, and made by Venetian craftsmen in Byzantine style.

The most important mosaic is the Christ Pantocrator, in the center of the church, in the apse. Huge mosaic that, illuminated by external light, creates a visual effect that leaves you speechless. The mosaics want represent wealth and power that the Kingdom of Sicily reached during the Norman domination. Very interesting is the representation of the English bishop Tommaso Beckett, opponent of King Henry II, never represented in any other Italian church.

  • the entrance is in Piazza Guglielmo Marconi, to the left of Piazza Vittorio Emanuele - Get directions
  • from Monday to Saturday 8: 30-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00, Sunday and holidays 8: 00-10: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30
  • € 4,00

5 - Belvedere

Behind the Town Hall there is an ancient building, once used as a seminary, and the Belvedere, a public garden from which it is possible admire the Conca d'Oro, the plain where Palermo and its entire metropolitan city is inserted. This plain is so named for the colors of its fruits, mainly citrus fruits, which have golden reflections: the most typical of these is the late mandarin. The landscape that can be enjoyed is breathtaking, with colorful sceneries of typical Mediterranean shades.

The garden was closed for 7 years due to a collapse and, in this state of neglect, the vandals had stormed it. Fortunately, today, the green area and the romantic balcony have been returned to Sicilian citizens and tourists, following in-depth studies of engineering and geology which ensured the safety of the places, as well as the work of generous volunteers.

  • in the historic center, exactly behind the Town Hall - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

6 - Diocesan Museum

Interesting museum of Christian art, a privileged place that allows the public to offer significant masterpieces of sacred art that narrate the history of faith, Christian devotion and the variegated artistic expression of a Diocese. Inside, collections of paintings, sacred vestments and liturgical objects, as well as a beautiful cycle of frescoes from the 1700s.

The museum is spread over three levels in the Archbishop's Palace. On the first floor, on the ground floor, there is the San Placido room, an exhibition space for altarpieces and the large tapestry with William's Dream; the first floor includes two rooms displaying works from the Norman age to the seventeenth century; on the second floor, a path that traces the history of the Diocese. Also on the second floor is the ethno-anthropological section. The Baroque is also part of the exhibition chapel of the Crucifix in the Cathedral of Monreale where all the works of art commissioned by Archbishop Giovanni Roano are exhibited.

  • in Via Arcivescovado 8, 1 min walk from the Cathedral - Get directions
  • Monday to Saturday 9:00 am-13:00pm and 14:30 pm-17:30pm, closed on Sunday
  • € 4,00

7 - Ciambr'Art

The historic district of Ciambra, a few steps from the Duomo, is the district where lived the artists and the workers who participated in the construction of the Cathedral itself. It stands on a rock overlooking the spectacular golden basin. Unmissable stop when visiting Monreale.

Stroll through the narrow cobbled alleys and the medieval style stone dwellings it's like stepping back in time. Today the district is called Ciambr'Art because, due to the massive presence of workshops exhibiting colorful artisan products typical of the place, is a sort of open-air art gallery.

  • 170 m from the Duomo via Via Arcivescovado, Via d'Acquisto / SP69 and Via Piave - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

8 - Church of the SS Crocefisso or of the Collegiata

Existing since 1450, it is still today the place of worship most dear to the Monreales where the Crucifix with the "Patruzzu amurusu" who miraculously saved the citizens from the plague. The church is particularly famous because it is linked to the feast of the SS. Crucifix which, every year, is celebrated on 1, 2 and 3 May. The whole town is celebrating and even schools are closed.

In the days preceding the Procession of the SS. Crucifix, eagerly awaited by locals and devotees, many people go to church for attend the Novena during which the singing of the Hymns is performed in honor of the SS. Crucifix. The climax of the party falls on 3 May, when the Crucifix is ​​brought down from the altar and is placed on the base of the "Vara" to be carried in procession through the streets of the town, a moment of strong appeal and great emotion. Legend has it that the roses, after being passed over the crucifix, become thaumaturgical, that is, miraculous.

  • 850 meters from the Duomo (3 minutes on foot) via SP69 and Via Palermo - Get directions
  • Monday to Saturday 9: 00-12: 30 and 16: 00-19: 00, Sunday 9: 00-12: 30
  • free

9 - Acqua Park

A fun water park spread over an area of ​​over 22.000 square meters, is the perfect place to spend a day of relaxation and fun. A riot of swimming pools and many other facilities for fun, including slides, kamikaze, giant ball, multi-track, tobogans, shell pool for children, children's oasis and much more.

The structure houses inside picnic areas, bars, cafeterias, changing rooms, swimming pools, services, parking lots and a delightful self-service restaurant. There are large shaded areas and areas for the unbridled fun of the little ones. Every Saturday night they are organized outdoor dance evenings, poolside.

  • on the Provincial Road of Pezzingoli, 172; from Palermo going up Calatafimi continue for SS 186 towards Pioppo, at Km 10 + 600 turn left, then follow the signs - Get directions
  • from 1st June to 30th September every day 9: 30-18: 00
  • from € 5,00 to € 15,00 depending on the season

10 - San Martino delle Scale

On the outskirts of Monreale stands San Martino delle Scale, one of the many hamlets of the town. It rises at 589 meters above sea level and there are 440 inhabitants. Immersed in a mountainous and wooded landscape, is a place particularly popular with Palermo to spend their holidays, thanks to the coolness it offers in the summer season.

The main attraction is the monumental aggregate which includes the Benedictine monastery and the abbey Basilica of San Martino delle Scale, from which it takes its name. The facilities house the academy of fine arts, a restoration school and a shop of selected items. Peculiarity: the buildings are not concentrated in a single urban agglomeration but are scattered among the thick woods.

  • 10,3 km (18 min by car) via Via Regione Siciliana - Get directions
  • always accessible
  • free

What to see in Monreale in one day: recommended itinerary

Start the day with a good breakfast at Mirto Giovanni's Since 1971. and dedicate the morning to Monreale jewels: the Cathedral with the splendid mosaics and the delightful Benedictine cloister. Given the prestige and artistic importance of the places, we highly recommend an in-depth visit with an authorized guide to better appreciate their beauties and better contextualize them in history.

Have lunch in Le Barrique (€ 20,00) and, after lunch, visit the Diocesan Museum. Then enter the folkloristic district Ciambr'Art, una real open-air art gallery. Stroll through the alleys, admire the medieval houses and browse among the many artisan shops in search of some typical souvenirs. In the late afternoon you reach the Belvedere area; enjoy a relaxing stroll in the gardens and, above all, admire the wonderful panorama, even more suggestive at sunset.

End the day with dinner at the nearby Il Giardino Degli Aranci (€ 30,00).

One day itinerary at a glance

  1. Breakfast at Mirto Giovanni Since 1971
  2. Cathedral - opening hours: Mon-Sat 8: 30-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00, Sun and holidays 8: 00-10: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30 - ticket price: € 4,00
  3. Benedictine cloister - opening hours: Mon-Sat 8: 30-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 00, Sun and holidays 8: 00-10: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30 - ticket price: € 4,00
  4. Lunch at Le Barrique
  5. Diocesan Museum - opening hours: Mon-Sat 9: 00-13: 00 and 14: 30-17: 30, closed Sun - ticket price: € 4,00
  6. Cimbr'Art - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
  7. Belvedere - opening hours: always accessible - ticket price: free
  8. Dinner at the Orange Garden

Where to eat in Monreale: the best restaurants

  1. Le Barrique: very small room behind the Duomo. Well-stocked wine shop that also offers quality beers and excellent food, km0 products
    Average price per person: € 20,00
    Address and contacts: via arcivescovado, 4 (Get directions) / tel: 393 558 0298
  2. Ciambra Restaurant: dishes based on fresh fish, elaborated and refined, served in a refined and welcoming environment
    Average price per person: € 40,00
    Address and contacts: via Benedetto d'Acquisto, 18 (Get directions) / tel: 091 6406717
  3. Tavern of the Peacock: beautiful and evocative place that offers slightly revisited traditional dishes
    Average price per person: € 25,00
    Address and contacts: alley thought, 18 (Get directions) / tel: 091 640 6209

What to do in the evening: the nightlife areas and the best clubs in Monreale

Monreale is not what can be defined as a place to stay late in the evening. The only attraction, at certain times of the year, is Monreale by night, the extraordinary opening of the Cathedral and the Cloister in the evening. Not exactly what is part of the imaginary of typical nightlife activities!

In Monreale it certainly can spend a romantic pre-evening enjoying an aperitif and a good dinner in one of the many clubs in the village. To have fun until late, maybe even making four jumps in the disco, then it is necessary move to the nearby Palermo where there is no shortage of cocktail bars, multiplex discos, traditional breweries and modern pubs, mainly concentrated in certain districts such as Vucciria, Kalsa, Borgo Vecchio and Mondello.

The best pubs, clubs and discos

  • Vintage Enoteca Bistrot: very small but comfortable room with a view. Excellent cocktails and accompanying platter of very rich and excellent quality
    Address: via d'cquista, 26 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Bar del Sole: simple place exactly on the square in front of the Duomo. perfect for an aperitif accompanied by local delicacies such as arancini, cunzatu bread and panelle
    Address: Piazza Vittorio Emanuele, 22 (Get directions) / Facebook page
  • Savoia coffee: facing the wonderful panorama of the golden basin, a place recommended especially for those who love good wine and the refinement of raw materials
    Address: via d'Acquisto, 23 (Get directions) / Facebook page

Plan your stay in Monreale: info and useful tips

  • from Palermo take Corso Calatafimi to the exit of the city, take the SS 186 and then the SP 69 up to Monreale; alternatively Bus 389P from Palermo Indipendenza-Palazzo Reale to Fontana Del Drago (30 min, € 2,00). The terminus is about 600 m and the square can be reached on foot in 8 min
  • Getting around: the village is small, it can be easily explored on foot
  • Where to park: coming from the provincial road, instead of reaching the center, follow the signs for the parking. It is a large square controlled by the Municipality connected to the Piazza del Duomo by a staircase - Get directions
  • Hotel and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
  • What to see in the surroundings: Palermo, Mondello, Cefalù, San Martino delle Scale, Bosco della Ficuzza

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