Through Their Words and My Eyes

I “met” Karen La Rosa online when we both participated in a documentary about Sicily produced by Mark Spano. A fascinating and charming man himself, he raved about her insight, eloquence and passion for Sicily. When we started e-mailing, I realised everything he said about her was true.

Karen lives in New York and runs a travel business, taking as many Americans as she can to share her Sicilian heritage and the beauty of this island.


Since Karen’s Facebook Page glows with beautiful photographs of Sicily, I asked her to compose a guest post for me. All I expected was a photo essay with a few personal comments, but instead she compiled a beautiful collection of quotations about Sicily through the centuries.

I hope you like it as much as I do.


Karen La Rosa

So great is my love for Sicily, that I turned it into a business. I can share the magic of my Sicily with people who want to travel, learn, and enjoy the richness of such a beautiful island.

Sicily has certainly bewitched many before me, though, and it goes way beyond the oft quoted Goethe. The consistency of the love-fest messages is clear over time, but their individual eloquence is such a joy to read. Their words, my eyes.

The 18th century French painter Jean Houel left for Sicily in May, 1776. He intended to stay a short time but never left for 4 years.

“I was enchanted… the limpidity of the sky, the restless splendor of the sun, the beauty of the countryside, a certain excitement of the fantasy…which brought to mind the time when in the fields one encountered the divine.”

Who would want to leave?


There is scholarly debate about whether or not Shakespeare visited Sicily or whether perhaps he was Sicilian. He seemed to write about Sicily with such knowledge.

The climate’s delicate; the air most sweet.

Fertile the isle, the temple much surpassing

The common praise it bears.

Almost without fail, my clients come back from Sicily always saying the same thing…”I had no idea!”


In The Leopard, that classic and quintessential Sicilian novel, Lampedusa evoked so fabulously the expansive southwest area where my heritage lies. is..

”aridly undulating to the horizon in hillock after hillock, comfortless and irrational, with no lines that the mind could grasp, conceived apparently in a delirious moment of creation; a sea suddenly petrified when a change of wind had flung the waves into a frenzy.”


In 1788 the art historian Jean-Dominique Vivant Denon, wrote Voyage en Sicilie. The first director of the Louvre Museum and Napolean’s Art Minister traveled quite a bit for the time, but he wrote a book about Sicily.

“All that nature has of great, all it has of terrible, can be compared to Etna and Etna cannot be compared to anything.”


Another luminous French author was also moved to write a book. Entitled Sicily, Guy de Maupassant said:

“Those men, those of former times, had soul and eyes that in no way resemble ours, and in their veins, along with their blood, flowed something that has disappeared: love and admiration for the Beautiful.”


Fast forward to the 20th century and the keen observations of Leonardo Sciascia. How could you not love a book entitled The Wine Dark Sea?

 “All of Sicily is a dimension of the imagination.”

And indeed it is.


Perhaps today we are a little less eloquent, but still the message is the same!


Sicily is not only where my heritage lies, but also a big piece of my heart.


One thing is absolutely true, and D.H. Lawrence said it best,

“And anyone who has once known this land can never be quite free from the nostalgia for it.”


To learn more about La RosaWorks tours to Sicily or for help in planning your tour, please visit

Let me show you Sicily through my eyes.

Thank you very much, Veronica, for this really fun opportunity to be a guest on your Blog!


Karen J. La Rosa – La RosaWorks, LLC
Sicily Travel & Tourism

Ph.: 917.225.8415
(Sicily) 011 39 333.435.3598
IATAN 22.505755
ASTA Member

Need some holiday reading?

A novel about an English woman who takes on parenthood, the Mafia and a Sicilian mother-in-law, all at once.


front cover

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. Jules Brown says:

    Lovely collection of quotations, some of which I was familiar with, others not – and the photographs are stunning. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment, Jules. These are but a few quotes in the collection! I am so glad you like the photos, too. Means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark Spano says:

    I am the luckiest guy in the world to have have Veronica Di Grigoli and Karen La Rosa as friends and colleagues. We share with many across the globe a love of that three-sided island. Who can explain why? We share this wild love a place, and I feel so fortunate to share that particular passion with these two remarkable women. Thank you both for all you have done for me and to help make my film a reality. With the greatest affections, Mark Spano

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much, Mark. You know Sicily is like a magnet. It attracts people from all over. Here’s another quote to explain –
      “But if I were asked to pick one constant, one quality that seems dependable, immutable, endlessly available, I’d say that it was intensity. For nothing in Sicily seems withheld, done half way, restrained or suppressed. There’s nothing to correspond to say, the ironic, the cerebral remove at which a Frenchman might consider an idea or a question, or the Scandinavian distrust of the sloppy, emotive response.”
      Francine Prose, Sicilian Odyssey
      It’s been a pleasure to help you. Glad I got you two together, too. We’re all floating around in the same crazy boat.


  3. Francesca Mannina says:

    I think I want to hop on a plane and go to Bella Sicilia NOW!


    1. Well, I’ll be there in late September and October if you want to join us! 🙂


  4. Joanna says:

    Thank you for this post! The third photo …could that be in taken in Erice from the Temple of Venus? We were there last fall and I snapped about a thousand pictures of this view. Sicily is easy to fall in love with!


  5. You are correct! Very good! Yes, this view from Erice is exquisite. In Sicily, views are a specialty. So glad you enjoyed it. Thank you.


  6. Diane C says:

    Lovely blog post! My favourite Sicily quote is Goethe’s ““To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for in Sicily is the key to everything.” Just found your webpage Karen. If I weren’t already here, it would most certainly make me want to come!


  7. Congratulations on a wonderful blog post with great pictures and quotes. I would add one more traveller who made interesting observations on Sicily, Patrick Brydone. He was a Scot who toured Sicily with two friends in 1770 and reported on his trip in letters to William Beckford in England. Reprints are available and read in a surprisingly modern fashion. On Palermo he wrote: “I shall have a great deal to write you about this city; we are every day more delighted with it, and shall leave it with much regret”.


    1. I have heard Patrick Brydone visited Sicily, mainly becuase he was one of the distinguished visitors to tour Villa Palagonia in Bagheria where I live. I didn’t know his book was available, I shall look for that. Thank you!


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