Mazel Tov! The Sicilian Housewife goes to Israel!

Not really. I went to a “meeting” in the local council building to “discuss” the “promotion” of “tourism” in our town last night. All these “”””””” “”” ” ” “””  have a purpose and I promise to explain. Being an astute housewife, I realised very quickly that I had been lured there under false pretences … More Mazel Tov! The Sicilian Housewife goes to Israel!

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

Celebrate being Italian with a Night at the Opera

To celebrate Sicily becoming part of Italy, Palermo Council announced a competition in 1864 to design a new opera house for Palermo. An opera house! Can you think of a better way to celebrate being Italian?   The winning design was by  Italian architect Giovan Battista Filippo Basile. At the time, it was the largest … More Celebrate being Italian with a Night at the Opera

Q: Who promoted Italian food before Jamie Oliver? A: Renato Guttuso!

  We are all used to buying imported and exotic foods in our local supermarket these days, and seeing Jamie Oliver on TV wagging spaghetti about and telling us to grow “some lavly fresh basil” on our windowsills. Jamie has become the global marketing manager for Italian food these days. But how would you market … More Q: Who promoted Italian food before Jamie Oliver? A: Renato Guttuso!

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

How to cook the dinner, Roman style: Tindari Archaeological Site

I saw this rare object in the little museum in the archaeological site at Tindari. It’s a Roman hob. All you have to do is pop some wood into the cavity under the pot, and light it. You can regulate the flame by raking some wood forward, or adding more fuel. You can also lower … More How to cook the dinner, Roman style: Tindari Archaeological Site

Fancy walking into the richest bank vault in the world?

You actually can. In Sicily. It is called the “Medagliere” and it occupies the basement of the Archaeological Museum of Siracusa, on the island’s south-eastern tip. You get an adrenaline rush just walking through the door. It is solid metal about four feet thick, with iron bars that poke out in all directions and penetrate … More Fancy walking into the richest bank vault in the world?

Siracusa, The Ancient Greek jewel in Sicily’s Crown

We had a holiday in Siracusa this summer, over on the south eastern corner of the island. That side of Sicily has a lot of Baroque architecture. Sicilian baroque is a distinctive style developed under Spanish and Bourbon rule (17th century). Here’s Siracusa cathedral: The Museum of Archaeology in Siracusa is wonderful. Since my degree … More Siracusa, The Ancient Greek jewel in Sicily’s Crown

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?

Archimedes and his Terrible Stomach Ache

This puzzle, at least 2.5 thousand years old, is called a Stomachion, which means “stomach ache”. It comes to us thanks to Archimedes, Sicily’s greatest scientist and one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. He described it in a book now called The Archimedes Palimpsest and used it to inspire some of his great mathematical … More Archimedes and his Terrible Stomach Ache