Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?

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?

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

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

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 … More The Villa of the Fashionista: Villa Sant’Isidoro in Aspra

A Priceless Hoard of Sicilian Treasure

I first visited Siracusa two summers ago. The highlight of my trip was visiting the Medagliere (Numismatics Treasury) in the Archaeological Museum and getting to know its charming curator, Rosalba Riccioli. Blonde and vivacious, Rosalba’s passion for the 2,500-year-old gold coins and jewellery in her care – and the intriguing stories behind them – is … More A Priceless Hoard of Sicilian Treasure

Camping like Tarzan

You may have noticed I’ve fallen quiet lately. This was partly because I hoped you’d miss my witty tales of derring do around Sicily so much you would decide to buy my hilarious novel to fill the void. It was mainly because the electricity keeps getting cut off. The electricity has been cut off 42 … More Camping like Tarzan

The Three Ancient Super-Powers: part 3, The Romans

The last, and ultimately the most powerful, of the superpowers of the ancient world was the Roman Empire. Why were they ultimately the winners in the power struggle? We have seen decades of power struggle between the USA and the USSR. They fought the cold war using technology and financing small wars around the globe, … More The Three Ancient Super-Powers: part 3, The Romans

The Three Ancient Super-Powers: Part 2, The Greeks

On Wednesday I told you about the Phoenicians, the first Super-power of the ancient world and Sicily’s first colonists. Today, let’s see what the Greeks did for Sicily. The ancient Greeks: the second superpower The Greeks copied the Phoenicians by founding coastal colonies all over the Mediterranean from the 8th century B.C. onwards. We call … More The Three Ancient Super-Powers: Part 2, The Greeks

The Three Ancient Super-Powers: Part 1, The Phoenicians

It may be hard to imagine, these days, that Sicily was once the cradle of European civilisation. Three super-powers battled for supremacy and Sicily was the centre of it all. Today, I’ll tell you about the Phoenicians, the earliest super-power and Sicily’s first colonists. Carthaginians and Phoenicians: the first empire The Phoenicians were the first … More The Three Ancient Super-Powers: Part 1, The Phoenicians