Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?

All the cathedrals across Europe were built in the space of about 200 years, at the height of the crusades. They look expensive, but they were actually money machines. Whilst there may have been an element of religious fervour to them, they were also a way of demonstrating power to potential enemies and the illiterate … More Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?

A Festival in Noto

Every parish in Sicily has a festival once a year to celebrate the saint in whose honour the church is dedicated. We happened to be in Noto a good few years back during the festival at the Cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Nicolas (Basilica Cattedrale di San Nicola). We began the day with the classic … More A Festival in Noto

The Baroque town of Noto, Sicily’s Ingenious City

Noto was one of the earliest cities in Sicily, first built in the Bronze age by the Sikels, one of Sicily three indigenous tribes. By early Medieval times it was a bustling city, and one of the last Arab holdouts to finally succumb to the invasion of the Normans. It retained a multicultural population and … More The Baroque town of Noto, Sicily’s Ingenious City

Palermo Cathedral

Palermo Cathedral was erected in 1185 by Walter Ophamil (or Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and the Norman King William II’s minister. One of his close relatives had Monreale cathedral built during an overlapping time period, and they were therefore regarded as competing with each other for glory. The Normans had … More Palermo Cathedral

Dolce & Gabbana Summer 2016: The Carretto Siciliano!

I was happy to see that Sicilian fashion duo Dolce and Gabbana (well, one of them is Sicilian anyway) have turned back to Sicily to inspire their Summer 2016 collection. They must have heard I’ve moved back to England, because they included a matching umbrella in the collection this year. Thanks, guys!   This time they … More Dolce & Gabbana Summer 2016: The Carretto Siciliano!

The Villa of the Fashionista: Villa Sant’Isidoro in Aspra

I have spent eleven years being irritated by an 18th century villa near my house, because it blocks the middle of what could be a perfect road running right behind Casa Nostra into the nearest town. Despite its fancy gates, Villa Sant’Isidoro looked like a derelict building from the outside. I assumed it would fall down … More The Villa of the Fashionista: Villa Sant’Isidoro in Aspra

Who Cleans up after the Flower Festivals in Sicily?

Ever been to one of those Mediterranean Fiorata festivals and wondered who cleans up afterwards? The locals spend the night putting millions of flower petals, seeds, beans and nuts out all along the road to make lovely pictures and the have processions alongside them for people to admire the ephemeral art. Then the next day, … More Who Cleans up after the Flower Festivals in Sicily?

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

A Priceless Hoard of Sicilian Treasure

I first visited Siracusa two summers ago. The highlight of my trip was visiting the Medagliere (Numismatics Treasury) in the Archaeological Museum and getting to know its charming curator, Rosalba Riccioli. Blonde and vivacious, Rosalba’s passion for the 2,500-year-old gold coins and jewellery in her care – and the intriguing stories behind them – is … More A Priceless Hoard of Sicilian Treasure

Baths and Curses in Palermo’s Archaeological Museum

I recently visited Palermo’s Archaeological Museum (called “Antonino Salinas”). Most of it is closed for restoration, but there was still plenty to enjoy.   I sat for ten minutes serenely enjoying the sound of the fountain before exploring the part of the museum still open. Can you guess what this is?   It’s a Roman … More Baths and Curses in Palermo’s Archaeological Museum

Loafing around in Sicily’s Gingerbread Village

The people of San Biagio Platano, a village in south-western Sicily, have celebrated Easter every year since the 1700’s by decorating their streets with arches and towers made of bread. The entire community spends three months turning the place into a gingerbread village… yet Hansel and Gretel never come!   For this Archi di Pane … More Loafing around in Sicily’s Gingerbread Village