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…

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…

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…

Messina’s Madonna

Messina has a special connection to its Parton the Virgin Mary. Not only does she welcome the ships into the port with her giant golden statue at the entrance of the naturally formed inlet. She has many churched dedicated to her, and her image is at the centre of the city’s immense faith and religious…

Short and sweet classical history

I'm gradually adding to my Reading Trincaria reading list and so I will be posting a regular quick Sicilian themed book review during the week to gradually extend our Sicily related reads. This week I'd like to share one of the first books I ever read about this magical island, a true classic which helped…

The Ultimate Sicilian History Lover

John Julius Norwich: The Normans in the South 1016-1130 The Kingdom in the Sun 1130-1194. Sicily: A short history from the Greeks to Cosa Nostra. Sicily: An Island at the Crossroads of History The Middle Sea: A history of the Mediterranean John Julius Norwich’s series dedicated to the Normans of Sicily is the ultimate Sicilian…

10 Feste Patronale in Sicilia

Every town and city in Italy has its own Saintly patron or protector which has its own dedicated festa or celebration during the year with associated religious processions and events. In Sicily alone, there are three hundred and ninety town halls which means many lifetimes of Saint day celebrations. Apart from the religious celebrations, the…

Food and religious festivals in Sicily this August

August is a month filled with endless food and religious celebrations which fill the table with local fare and many opportunities to witness ancient patron saint festivals. Most Italians have their annual summer vacation this month, so there is a particularly hectic series of outdoor events paired with epic traffic jams to match! Italy in…

A walk to the fig tree

In the summer Sicilian’s become like frugivorous animals living off the fruits produced by their gardens. So my husband, son and I are obliged to take a walk to the fig tree to gather up its bounty. The only problem is the tree is hidden deep below a steep precipice behind overgrown bushes and prickly…

Poetry inspired by Sicily: A place of elephants, lions and bears

My grandparent's gardens are gone like so many poetic laments about lost paradises nothing of their cultivated land where father, son, mother and daughter lived the flowering trees are a memory recalled by a dying generation no more sustenance or song only the shadows of a once fertile island Ancient olive groves gradually enveloped by…

Smoky roasted Artichokes

The Sicilian spring is moody as the weather fluctuates between rain and days of glorious sun. The Sciroccio wind whips itself up from the African desert and pushes the seasons along. White blossoms in the fruit trees blend with shadowy greys. The spring is an armistice which allows the winter to gradually surrender itself and…

Leonforte at the beating heart of Sicily

        Goethe once said to have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything. But in order to understand Sicily you need to go to its geographical centre because the key to the island’s identity is there. The province…

The truth behind Sicilian ceramic Moorish heads

Sicily is famous for its ceramics, designed in the classic Maiolica glazed style with delicate baroque patterns. One of the most characteristic pieces of Sicilian ceramics and those who stimulate the most interest from visitors are the moorish head designs, which consist of pairs of pots, cups or jars which depict a fair skinned woman…

A Sicilian female trinity

The cult of the Patron Saint was developed by the early church which used the established pagan desire for multiple gods to lead people towards the Roman Catholic  religion. Reinforced by the Spanish domination of eighteenth century Sicily, the Italian peninsular still finds itself celebrating endless saintly patrons during the year, a tradition also widely…