Words about Sicily: Seraphim

I recently was working on revising a poem I’d written many years ago which reflects on the nature of human nature and language. The poem titled A Babel of words uses the biblical story of the tower of babel from Genesis as a metaphor for the over-reaching ambitious nature of humanity. I’ve been obsessed with…

Words about Sicily: Details

I use my camera like I’d use a notebook. recording little details and notes, things I’ve noticed or want to remember. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern, something that is unusual to. It could be a texture that catches my eye or the way the sunlight hits a…

Words about Sicily: Fichi d’India

Driving through the countryside outside Catania, under the shadow of Mount Etna between the lava rocks and the dark soil dotted with olives and pistachio trees. There is an introduced plant that thrives and has been claimed by Sicily the fico d’india literally the Indian fig.The prickly pear is a natural survivor of everything from…

The Stone Garden

Shaking off the car sickness brought on by the continuous curves of the drive, nearly three hours from my little town in Messina province, thanks to the delays from the tourist traffic for the Infiorata. I stretch my legs as the bus drops me off near the public gardens in front of Piazzale Marconi a…

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…

The Giudei of San Fratello: part 1

San Fratello is perched high up in the rambling Sicilian highlands, nesting itself in the crown of the Nebrodi Mountains, which run along the Tyrrhenian coast towards Palermo. The road on the way to the town negotiates its way through the mountains like an elaborate obstacle course; every car is climbing up navigates hairpin curves…

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…

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…

The one time I went to Etnaland

Every year a group from my small Sicilian town of Sinagra organises a pilgrimage to the Etnaland amusement park at Belpasso outside of Catania. In the summer months, the waterpark is open until the early evening, and the connected theme park rides are put into motion as the locals spend their evenings spinning, dipping and…

For a better life: the migrant experience

The Sicily of Sicilian migrants exists only in their memories like the faded dreams of a past youth, vivid in the mind's eye, too idealised to be true. Memories distort the events of everyday life as they are created by the senses and are carved into the human mind by emotions. We remember many things…

Seeking Sicily an interview with John Keahey

Sicily’s rich history, culture and literature are filled with endless stories, and so one writer or interpreter visiting here will never come up with a definitive interpretation, each experience will remain unique. Sicily has many faces and reflections, depending on where and when you visit and who you meet, it is impossible ever to finish…

How history shapes Sicily’s character

  The weight of Sicily’s history makes it an inherently sad place, like all places with long human histories she laments her past glories which in turn give her a unique melancholy. Yes, Sicilia is defiantly as feminine as her beating heart, Etna. Sicily’s infinite stories shape her own sorrowful character which are absorbed into…

Sicilian Patron Saints

  Sicilian people have a unique rapport with religion and superstition which binds the two seemingly conflicting doctrines together. The connection between the two can be traced back to the struggle the early Catholic Church in Sicily had against pagan religions. The Roman Catholic Church always had a tremendous amount of power over Sicilian’s spiritual, cultural…