Owing to the geographical position of the Mezzogiorno, midway between Europe and the Holy Land, the museums and treasures of southern Italy contain a broad range and a great wealth of Norman collections. Stopping off at Messina, Bari or Amalfi before crossing over to Jerusalem or on the homeward journey, pilgrims from the North would leave gift offerings that they had brought with them over thousands of kilometres. This is how reliquaries decorated with enamelwork from central France and fine ivory caskets, masterpieces of Arab craftsmanship, came to sit side by side among the treasures of the cathedrals and basilicas of southern Italy
The image of power as conveyed through coinage and seals is very much present in a country where the monetary tradition dated back over a thousand years and where official documents were being produced in increasing numbers through the Norman sovereign's will to speak to his subjects in their native languages, Latin, Greek, Arab ... Lastly, there is an abundance of mosaics and sculptures, either preserved in situ or gathered into museum collections, and which contribute towards the outstanding beauty of the Norman monuments of Italy, with marble capitals, decorative mouldings and carved plaques vying for inventiveness and power.
Within this overall picture, at the heart of the Norman empire, Sicily definitely stands apart, its Muslim influence still very marked in the early 12th century.