The stories behind A Sicilian Mosaic

Last week I announced the launch of my first self published Zine dedicated to photography, titled A Sicilian Mosaic.

The idea to make a zine came about last summer after watching a tutorial on Youtube, where a talented photographer showed me and everyone else on the internet how easy it is to compile his photos into a little tangible book he also made available on Amazon. I promptly bought the book, slightly sceptical about the quality. He also used Google slides to create his Zine, which looked complicated and a little clunky to use.

A week later, I got my copy of his collection of photos dedicated to his pre covid trip to Amsterdam. And it was surprising to see how easy it was and how satisfying it must be to hold something you created in your hands. To have a tangible product to sell or give away. It was also reasonably good quality.

As is usual for me, the idea of making my Zine was put aside for about six months, as I put it into the too hard to start pile. Then with the realisation, I wanted to take the time to celebrate and compile my photographs after nearly two decades in Sicily. Yes, I’ve been sharing my photos on my blog and Instagram, but I had never gathered them up together.

So enthusiastic about the idea of putting some of my favourites together, I went through my archives. I spend probably a few weeks reminiscing and procrastinating. I printed out a whole heap of images, arranged them to see what looked good next to one another. I did a bit of editing.

Then I started formatting my Zine, which turned out to be a massive pain in the arse, especially for someone with next to no experience in graphic design. I soon abandoned Google slides. After a few failed attempts at uploading my document onto Amazon and having the file rejected for formatting errors. I employed someone to format the document for me. Then after a handful of proof copies, I finally was happy with the final product.

A Sicilian Mosaic is a love letter to the colours, landscape and light of Sicily. It’s the best parts of my visual observations and photographic essays that I have gathered through my favourite hobby while exploring my beloved island.

I wish I could tell you all of the background stories of each image, but that would turn into another book project.

I might write some posts about particular photos, but on the whole, I think A Sicilian Mosaic stands well on its own.

A couple of the images hold within them some unique personal family history.

Santa Maria del Rosario, Biancavilla (Ct)

For example, this image of a Madonna with child statue is up on the bell tower of Biancavilla church. Most of my grandfather’s family moved, settled and still live at Biancavilla, which is only half an hour from the province of Catania.

Nonno told me a rather vivid story about how he went to work at Biancavilla. He was part of a work gang of friends, relatives and paesani who would set off together by foot from their small mountain town to go and work harvesting wheat in the summer outside of Catania.

Today, the road is about two and a half hours by car, but it would take them much longer on foot. They would walk together until nightfall and then stop to rest in front of churches, which were seen to be safe places to rest.

They would sleep under the stars and then resume their journey to their work the following day. One time Nonno walked to Biancavilla and arrived very late at night. So his work squad had to camp out in the piazza in front of the church at Biancavilla.

Many years later, in his eighties on what would be his last visit to Sicily, Nonno stood in front of the church where he had rested as a young man and made me take a photo of him there to commemorate this part of his life.

I also took this photo of the Madonna, who, while not being a masterpiece, most definitely looked down upon my Nonno as he slept in the piazza.

Raccuja, Messina province

While this image from the tiny Sicilian village of Raccuja, during a suggestive Saint day celebration, is typical of the minor festivals all around the island.

Poignantly these celebrations have been postponed over the past couple of years because of Covid. So this is the last celebration of the Festa of the Madonna of the Annunciation at Raccuja in 2019.

This church and piazza date back to the middle ages, and the church’s interior has been beautifully restored. This church is where my Grandparents were married, my mother was baptised, and my Sicilian family celebrated many joyful occasions. It is also where my great grandparents had their funerals. This special piazza here in its finest regalia tells many tales from the Sicilian part of my family tree.

A Sicilian Mosaic is currently available for purchase on