The Museum of a Sicilian Water Mill at Cavallo d’Ispica

We visited this lovely little museum near Siracusa when we found it by pure chance. It is called the Museo Cavallo d’Ispica. It is in an old water mill, which the same family has converted into a museum, after several generations of their family used it to mill flour. They were clearly the kind of…

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…

Ancient Romans in bikinis and mini-skirts at Casale

The Villa Romana Del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, is one of Sicily’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The villa was huge and would have been built and decorated at staggering expense. It was the manor house of a colossal agricultural estate, owned and run by an Italian aristocrat. Sicily was regarded as a terribly primitive province…

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…

Mount Etna, Europe’s Biggest Volcano

Imagine my shock and embarrassment when I suddenly realised, after 11 years in Sicily, I had never blogged about Mount Etna! Now I have finished clutching my pearls in horror, I am rectifying this oversight forthwith. Mount Etna is Europe’s largest volcano, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not only the biggest, but the…

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…

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…

San Nicola l’Arena, a fancy Sicilian village!

San Nicola is a village in Trabia, a little way along the Sicilian coast from the one where I live, but a world apart. Where we have fish heads and peeling wooden boats, they have posh promenades and yachts in a marina.   We went there recently on a strange day which was so overcast…

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…

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…

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…

Daily Life in a Sicilian Fishing Village

The fishermen in my village usually go out in these boats.     Each village along the coastline has its own particular colour scheme. Our village uses orange, white and blue, but there are some fishermen who originally came from another village along the coast where they use green instead of blue.     I always…