Saint Leo’s Festival day at Sinagra

Today Sinagra celebrates its Patron Saint Leone Bishop of Catania, born at Ravenna during medieval times. He was famous for his compassion and works of charity for the poor. But above all St Leo was a conqueror of false religions and idolatry. In his sermon at Sinagra today, the Catholic Bishop of Patti Guglielmo Giombanco…

Springtime postcards from Sicily

I've been spending my Easter break here in Sicily with friends and family trying to find a spark of energy to keep me going after a particularly devastating start to the year. I'm slowly getting back into things, trying to find a new routine. Easter for me was about day trips to the Nebrodi Mountains…

The Giudei of San Fratello: part 2

During the Giudei's procession, I am introduced to a local academic and former mayor of San Fratello, Professor Salvatore Mangione. He offers me a drink at a small bar, together with other acquaintances. This gives me a chance to get off the crowded street and out of the confusion. I stand at the bar for…

Poetry inspired by Sicily: In Ogni Paese

  In every paese there is an energy filled with the spirit of young & old paesani Every paese has its old palazzi, a Chiesa Madre, held together by the perspiration of local priests. In every paese, children run to catechism bounding, yelling and jumping as only youth does. Every paese has its drunks, madmen,…

Poetry inspired by Sicily: Sicilian DNA

  I live in Sicily because I fell in love with a Sicilian, but in reality, the love affair existed long before … I’ve been enamoured since birth,  Italy is imprinted on my DNA, my family and heritage has always been here connected to this place of endless human history my love of stories keeps…

The inspiration of Sicily

Sicily is a perfect place for lovers of historical novels, it is such an evocative place, bursting with the energy of a palpable history which seeps into everything on the island. In fact, Sicily has inspired many English authors to write beautiful fiction. The Sicilian migrant diaspora is also one of the most creative spawning…

A list of Italian themed movies and books for all seasons

I thought I'd recommend a few books and movies with a bit of an Italian theme. But as is usual in Italy, I've gone and overindulged with the entertainment. Quindi sono guai! So now you are in for it! Get ready for a mega list of movies and great reads from a lifetime lover of…

10 things to keep in mind while planning a trip to Italy

1) Don’t come in August I’ve said this many times, you can visit throughout the year so don’t come in the most overcrowded, hot and humid part of the year when most Italians are on summer holidays it will be uncomfortable and you will never have an authentic experience. September will be just as beautiful,…

Sicilian Splendors: discovering the secret places that speak to the heart

  I discovered the work of John Keahey by accident a few years ago when his first book about Sicily (Seeking Sicily: a cultural journey through myth and reality in the heart of the Mediterranean) randomly popped up on my Amazon search for books on my usual trawl through the internet for inspiration. After a…

Rebuilding Messina

  The most powerful recorded earthquake to hit Europe struck Messina at about 5:20 AM local time. Its epicentre was under the Strait of Messina, which separates the island of Sicily from the province of Calabria, the “toe” of Italy’s geographical “boot.” The main shock lasted for more than 20 seconds, and its magnitude reached 7.5 on the Richter scale. Ten minutes…

The Normans in Messina

The Chiesa di San Tommaso Apostolo il Vecchio is a precious artefact of the Norman period of Sicily. It dates back between 1061 and 1109 under the reign of Count Roger the first, a French Catholic ruler whose crusading knights left for the Middle East from the port of Messina. For many years it was…

A newly restored treasure of Sicilian Art Nouveau

The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele III at Messina was built from 1924 to 1929 by architect Camillo Puglisi Allegra who was inspired by the ornate seventeenth-century Sicilian baroque style which dominates the island, particularly in the Val di Noto area of South Eastern Sicily. The beautiful Galleria has recently been reopened after many decades of abandonment, and in the…

Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II

Messina’s Teatro Vittorio Emanuele II was built in 1852 by Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. The building is in the Neoclassical style and was designed by Neapolitan architect Pietro Valente. Previously known as the Teatro Sant’ Elisabetta its name was changed after the Expedition of the Thousand (Italian Spedizione dei Mille) which was a part of the…

Sicily in November

The first and second of November in Sicily are sombre, holy and sad days dedicated to Saints and dead souls. A month of meteorological transition, which has been causing havoc all over Italy this year (2018) with extensive flooding in Veneto and Alto Adige. In the south, there is a flux between the hot scirocco…

The historical heart of Messina

Piazza Duomo at the heart of Messina’s historic centre and is the focus of the city’s social and cultural life. A few minutes walk from the port, train station, post office, university and shopping districts the piazza is wonderfully positioned. Lined with gracious palazzi, cute bars, restaurants and shady trees it is a beautiful spot…