Villa Niscemi, Palermo – the most lavish palace in all Sicily

One day strolling through Palermo – OK, staggering in the heat – I chanced to notice a pair of gates which felt very familiar. I had never seen them before, yet I knew them so well. I knew there was going to be a false river inside them inhabited by expensive imported ducks. So we…

Sicily’s marvellous mechanical dining table in the Palazzina Cinese

One of the things that has made generations of English aristocrats fall in Love with Sicily over the centuries is the mutual passion for eccentrics. I don’t mean subtle characters, like one of my beloved uncles whose favourite food was broad bean and custard sandwiches. I mean flamboyant filthy rich people who could construct a…

Sicilian Ceramics in Palermo

Last summer I dashed down to Sicily and wanted to purchase some gorgeous Sicilian majolica ceramic art for my new house. So I toddled off to “Tre Erre” in Palermo.   What to buy? An owl?   Something fruity?   Something fishy?   How about some heads?   Or even Medusa’s head?   In the…

The Jewish Ghosts of Palermo

There was a Jewish presence in Sicily for centuries, possibly from before the birth of Jesus. The Jews were the only outsiders who made their homes in Sicily and became part of her population without invading. They simply turned up, fitted in and made themselves indispensable.   The Jews were the literate and educated members…

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…

Where is the City of Zyz, and why was it Cut in Four pieces?

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…

The Moorish Heads of Sicily

…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…

A Scandalous Story about the Mafia, Extortion and Cake

Sicily’s Anti-Extortion spokesman is Arrested while Extorting 100k Euros In one of the most delicious news items ever reported since I’ve been living in Sicily, it turns out that one of the main men in charge of combating extortion in Sicily has just been arrested… for extortion. It was “Aggravated extortion,” in fact, which means…

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…

The Cappella Palatina muqarnas

Originally posted on siquillya:
EDIT: I’ve made some scans and have adjusted the images as best as possible. Wish I could have copied these in glorious color, but sometimes you have to work with what you can get. On Thursday, I braved the holiday tourist crowds and took the train from Trenton to New York…

PHOTO GALLERY: Palermo and other Sicilian towns

I am delighted to have permission to reblog this from dorsetdaze All the pictures, and the article, are by Dave, a talented photographer with an eye for the unusual. Sicily: a land of many faces March 13, 2014 Traffic and graffiti: two of Palermo’s trademarks. SICILY, eh? One minute it can make you smile, the next…