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 … More San Nicola l’Arena, a fancy Sicilian village!
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
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
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 … More Through Their Words and My Eyes
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 … More Daily Life in a Sicilian Fishing Village
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
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
This is an 18th century villa near my home. It can be hired for weddings and other special events. I walked around it recently, as it hosted the exhibition about Sicilian Sulphur mines I blogged about. Whilst the sulphur miners in Sicily were living in slavery and abject poverty, the barons who owned the … More The Rich Man in his Villa Ramacca and the Poor Man at his Gate
I took my son to a special exhibition of minerals owned by a private collector recently. He said this one looked just like Superman’s home, so it must be kryptonite: I was inclined to agree, but actually the label said it’s a kind of quartz. Sicily has a stunningly amazing range of mineral deposits. It … More Is Sicily the Most Geological Place on Earth?
Palermo was founded by the Phoenicians from Tunisia and called Zyz. They divided the city into quarters, with one long road running south from the sea right through the heart of the city, and another running across it. These roads divided the city into four quarters or cantieri. The place where they intersect is still … More Where is the City of Zyz, and why was it Cut in Four pieces?
…Otherwise known as Pot Heads! I like the ambiguity in the phrase Moorish Heads. When the Moors invaded Sicily from North Africa in the 11th century, they built ceramics workshops all over the island and taught the Sicilians to make brightly coloured majolica, an art form which gradually spread throughout Sicily. One of the excavated … More The Moorish Heads of Sicily
Thomas Cook is running a photography competition. The rules are simple: post four photographs, each one representing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water. Click here for Competition Details CLICK ON EACH PHOTO TO SEE IT FULL SIZE WATER This is a fisherman in Saint Elia, northern Sicily. Along the Sicilian coastline, thousands of families … More Explore the Elements: Thomas Cook Photography Competition
Marsala, on the westernmost point of Sicily! Marsala, being a major strategic town on Sicily’s west coast, became a major base when the Spanish conquered Italy. It has a very southern-Spanish feel. The houses have exciting balconies that reminded me of the beautiful ones you see in Seville. Marsala Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Thomas a … More What do Wine, Salt and an English Martyr have in common?