You might think being in hospital isn’t very funny, but that’s just because you’ve never been in a Sicilian one. I came in yesterday because my heart was being naughty. Apparently I have ventricular tachycardia, which is the same arrhythmia that makes professional footballers drop dead right after winning an international tournament. “Perhaps you’re finally … More From my Sicilian Hospital Bed
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
Sicily has all kinds of medical conditions that don’t exist anywhere else. Here’s a comprehensive list, just in case you get one of them on holiday. Your doctor at home will know nothing about them. 1. Cervicale, caused by getting hit by the air (colpo d’aria) The dreaded cervicale is a pain in the neck, and … More How to avoid Liver-ache, getting hit by the air, and other Sicilian Diseases
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
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
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
This is a tribute to the first Sicilian who stood up, shouted against the Mafia, and dared to make them objects of ridicule instead of fearful reverence. ***** 9 May is a day most Sicilians remember. On 9 May 1978 Peppino Impastato, a political activist who opposed the Mafia, was brutally killed. He was my age. … More 9 May – Ode to Peppino Impastato
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
Follow the link for a stunning itinerary suggested by inspired Palermo native, Oriana: Where to go in Sicily: West Coast itinerary.
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
So, what’s it like to earn your living by going on holiday? Jules Brown, author of The Rough Guide to Sicily, describes his very first hilarious trip to Sicily especially for my blog. He has written stacks of travel guides, but Sicily was his first and, he says, still his favourite – despite how … More A Rough Start for the Rough Guide to Sicily
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
Here’s a photo of a road in Sicily which collapsed just ten days after it was built. It’s near Mezzojuso, 25 miles from Palermo. It cost more than Euros 200 million – at least, that’s what the taxpayer forked out for it. The actual materials and work, no doubt, cost far less. I don’t know if … More Schools and Bridges Collapsing in Sicily: Thanks Mafia!
Delicious juicy oranges and succulent lemons are one of the first things that spring to mind when most people think of Sicily. The other, unfortunately, is the Mafia, but few outsiders realise how closely they are connected. Citrus fruit trees were brought to Sicily by the Muslim invaders from North Africa in the 11th century … More Sour, Corrupt and dominated by the Mafia: The Citrus Industry in Sicily