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

Fancy walking into the richest bank vault in the world?

You actually can. In Sicily. It is called the “Medagliere” and it occupies the basement of the Archaeological Museum of Siracusa, on the island’s south-eastern tip. You get an adrenaline rush just walking through the door. It is solid metal about four feet thick, with iron bars that poke out in all directions and penetrate … More Fancy walking into the richest bank vault in the world?

Siracusa, The Ancient Greek jewel in Sicily’s Crown

We had a holiday in Siracusa this summer, over on the south eastern corner of the island. That side of Sicily has a lot of Baroque architecture. Sicilian baroque is a distinctive style developed under Spanish and Bourbon rule (17th century). Here’s Siracusa cathedral: The Museum of Archaeology in Siracusa is wonderful. Since my degree … More Siracusa, The Ancient Greek jewel in Sicily’s Crown

Archimedes and his Terrible Stomach Ache

This puzzle, at least 2.5 thousand years old, is called a Stomachion, which means “stomach ache”. It comes to us thanks to Archimedes, Sicily’s greatest scientist and one of the greatest mathematicians in the world. He described it in a book now called The Archimedes Palimpsest and used it to inspire some of his great mathematical … More Archimedes and his Terrible Stomach Ache

Eureka! Archimedes the Sicilian Detective

We all know the story of Archimedes flooding his bathroom, leaping out of his bath, and dashing stark naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!” in excitement at his discovery of the Archimedes Principle of water displacement. But exactly which city’s streets did the world’s first flasher actually dash through? For years I thought it was somewhere … More Eureka! Archimedes the Sicilian Detective