The History of Sicilian Cuisine in Thirteen Invasions

Sicilian food is the original fusion cuisine, a unique mix of all of its diverse cultural heritages. The island has been at the heart of thirteen different empires over the last three millennia, and each one of them has left its mark on the Sicilian housewife’s kitchen cupboard. The Phoenicians The Phoenicians were traders and … More The History of Sicilian Cuisine in Thirteen Invasions

A Time to Die – the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily

The history books about Sicily have little to say about the time of the Spanish rule. I find this strange, because the Spanish changed Sicily more than any other conqueror. The way they wanted this island is the way it still is: the Sicilians just cannot seem to shake them off.   Some history books … More A Time to Die – the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily

The Garden of the Kolymbetra, Agrigento

Many people visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra.   Originally, the Kolymbetra was an exquisite artificial lake, full of freshwater fish which were bred to eat, and a colony of swans. It was surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, reflected in its … More The Garden of the Kolymbetra, Agrigento

What do Sicilians Look Like? Let’s dig into the DNA

What colour are Sicilians? This seems to be the most controversial and provocative question one could possibly ask in relation to Sicily. I receive a regular stream of distressed or outraged comments from people who cannot bear it when I mention that Sicilian skin spans a range of many tones. They are always Americans with Sicilian … More What do Sicilians Look Like? Let’s dig into the DNA

Sour, Corrupt and dominated by the Mafia: The Citrus Industry in Sicily

Delicious juicy oranges and succulent lemons are one of the first things that spring to mind when most people think  of Sicily. The other, unfortunately, is the Mafia, but few outsiders realise how closely they are connected. Citrus fruit trees were brought to Sicily by the Muslim invaders from North Africa in the 11th century … More Sour, Corrupt and dominated by the Mafia: The Citrus Industry in Sicily

Naughty pictures on the ceiling! The Cappella Palatina in Palermo’s Norman Palace

To find out about the Palatine Chapel in Palermo’s Norman Palace – and to learn why it has pictures of nude belly dancers on the ceiling – see my previous post, reblogged from a great blog about Sicilian history called Siquillya. These are some more colour pictures of the ceiling. My favourite image is the … More Naughty pictures on the ceiling! The Cappella Palatina in Palermo’s Norman Palace

How the Africans brought Plumbing to Sicily: The Cefalù Laundry

The African immigrant crisis continues in Sicily and Lampedusa. At its peak the island of Lampedusa, which usually has 2,000 inhabitants and a plumbing infrastructure to fit, was also home to 5,000 refugees from Libya. The plumbing could not cope and people had no alternative but to use the beaches as toilets. The Lampedusan economy depends … More How the Africans brought Plumbing to Sicily: The Cefalù Laundry

Saint Benedict: Black Celebrity Healer, Chef and possibly Lion Tamer

Saint Benedict, known as Benedetto il Moro or Benedict the Moor, was born to two black African slaves in Messina, Sicily in 1524. He was also variously called niger, which means black, and ethiops, which means Sub-Saharan African. If I know the Sicilians, they probably called him “Chinese” half the time, too – they’re pretty vague … More Saint Benedict: Black Celebrity Healer, Chef and possibly Lion Tamer

Solunto – One of the world’s first multicultural cities?

Ah, my legs hurt! What a long uphill hike that was! Solunto was a city close to Santa Flavia, on the north-western coast of Sicily. It was founded by Carthaginians (from the city that is now called Tunis) when they colonised Sicily in the 11th century B.C. That was an awfully long time ago to … More Solunto – One of the world’s first multicultural cities?

Brain Drain, Sicilian Talent, and the World’s Oldest University

Did you know the world’s oldest university was founded by a Sicilian? It’s in Cairo, and he actually founded the whole city, too. This shows the terrible problem of Brain Drain has existed in Sicily far longer than most people realise. To get a concept of how big an issue this is, consider that there … More Brain Drain, Sicilian Talent, and the World’s Oldest University