Scala dei Turchi, beware the Instagram models on the white cliffs of Sicily!

Scala dei Turchi, which means the “Turkish staircase”, is on Sicily’s southern Realmonte coast in the Provincia di Agrigento. The Sicilians are a bit sketchy about foreign nationalities. The place used to see lots of pirate raids from North Africa, and since Arabs, Moroccans, Tunisians and other foreigners are basically the same thing, the Turks…

Sicily’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

I think you can tell the people at UNESCO were a bit overwhelmed with how much wonderful stuff there is in Sicily. When they were naming World Heritage Sites, they just lumped together nine towns all in one go, or an entire group of islands. Each part of these sites merits a listing in its…

The Ear of Dionysus near Syracuse

These photos are of a remarkable rock formation called the Ear of Dionysus, just outside Siracusa in south-Eastern Sicily. It is named after a former dictator of the Greek-founded City, as apparently he was very paranoid about rivals and improsoned them all in this cave. He then sent envoys to eavesdrop on them, as the…

The Botanical Gardens of Palermo

Palermo has a 200-year-old botanical garden with a vast and stunning plant collection and a crazily cheap entrance fee.¬†Obviously there are different flowers to see each month: this is the garden in August. These photos are all by my super-talented sister Susanna.¬†Click on any photo to see a high resolution enlargement.   Have you voted…

Lo Zingaro Nature Reserve, Sicily

Lo Zingaro nature reserve, in San Vito lo capo, was Sicily’s first. We visited recently, and spotted a falcon flying overhead. There are also buzzards, ravens, hooded crows and thrushes. The wild flowers include ferns, cyclamen, hollly bushes, lots of yellow mountain broom and this lovely flower. Does anyone know what it is? There were…

Sicilian Amber – the Tears of the Sun God’s Daughters

On some of Sicily’s beaches after a big storm, if you’re sharp-eyed and lucky as well, you can find pieces of a rare type of amber called simetite. Some pieces of simetite have recently been found to contain hitherto unknown types of prehistoric insect. It dates from the Miocene, a later period than the more…

How do you get Edible Salt out of the Sea?

We are so used to being warned not to eat too much salt nowadays that it may be hard to imagine how life in the past involved a constant effort to obtain enough of it. Not only does it render any food tasty, it is a vital nutrient and death is the inevitable consequence of…