I dropped in on an old friend, Mr. Cake, in his place of work recently. He owns and runs a cafe bar with his brother, which is always mouth-wateringly stocked with seasonal Sicilian pastries and delicacies, mainly baked by their elderly dad. As you can imagine, I enjoy dropping in on them very much. Since … More Yes I speaking the English
Back in the summer we dashed to Sicily to empty out our beautiful house. I am heartbroken to say we can’t afford to keep it, now that we’re settled in England and paying for a home here. If anyone is interested in buying my house in Sicily have a look here, and contact … More Sicilian Ceramics in Palermo
I always leave Christmas shopping till the last minute. When I am in Sicily, it’s because the cafes subversively waft smells out to distract everyone into eating this lot: When I am in England, it’s because of this: In the end, I always resort to last-minute shopping online. So if you’re in the same boat, … More Last minute Christmas Shopping?
I was very excited when Sicilian American film director Mark Spano asked if he could interview me for a documentary he was making, called Reimagining Sicily. I was particularly impressed when he managed to book nearby 17th century Villa Palagonia to do the filming; for this gorgeous villa is owned by 32 different people, none … More Reimagining Sicily – a new documentary (featuring me!)
All the cathedrals across Europe were built in the space of about 200 years, at the height of the crusades. They look expensive, but they were actually money machines. Whilst there may have been an element of religious fervour to them, they were also a way of demonstrating power to potential enemies and the illiterate … More Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?
This post isn’t anything too amazing; it’s just a few photos of my favourite plants in my garden in Sicily. OK, actually it is fairly amazing that I never killed them! There are strelizia from our neighbour’s garden, roses, pink bougainvillea, money plants and lots of other succulents taken as cuttings from friends’ gardens, aloes, … More The Sicilian Garden
Every parish in Sicily has a festival once a year to celebrate the saint in whose honour the church is dedicated. We happened to be in Noto a good few years back during the festival at the Cathedral, which is dedicated to Saint Nicolas (Basilica Cattedrale di San Nicola). We began the day with the classic … More A Festival in Noto
Noto was one of the earliest cities in Sicily, first built in the Bronze age by the Sikels, one of Sicily three indigenous tribes. By early Medieval times it was a bustling city, and one of the last Arab holdouts to finally succumb to the invasion of the Normans. It retained a multicultural population and … More The Baroque town of Noto, Sicily’s Ingenious City
We visited this lovely little museum near Siracusa a couple of years ago. It is in an old water mill, which the same family has conveted into a museum, after several generations of their family used it to mill flour. It is called the Museo Cavallo d’Ispica. They were clearly the kind of hoarders who … More The Museum of a Sicilian Water Mill at Cavallo d’Ispica
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 … More The Ear of Dionysus near Syracuse
I am going to miss Sicilian Santa terribly this year. I shall just have to rely on Hubby to make sure there is pasta as well as turkey, that we play card games amid the debris of nutshells, and that something with tentacles somehow manages to creep onto the dining table! MERRY CHRISTMAS! BUON NATALE! … More Merry Christmas the Sicilian way!
It’s that time of year again when I start thinking about nativity plays, and halos made of tinsel. When moving back here to England, I had hoped that English primary schools still followed that great tradition of making little children memorise passages from the bible, plus lots of Christmas carols, then make their parents laugh … More A Nativity Play with a Difference
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 … More Ancient Romans in bikinis and mini-skirts at Casale
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 … More Palermo Cathedral