A lifetime of Sundays

My Sicilian grandparents have passed away, and their absence from my life has left me with a great sense of emptiness. Their stories and their Sicily is a comfort to me as my family’s connection to the island is vital and goes back many generations.  I married a Sicilian, a distant cousin in a strange…

Words from Sicily: attracted to the details

I’ve mentioned many times how I’m often drawn to the little details that escape most people. Rather than being overwhelmed by a detailed artwork, building or historical site, I will take a step closer and try to break it down to see how it’s been made. I guess it’s the logical part of my mind…

Words from Sicily: Souvenirs

My brother and I used to have this game we played. Every place we visited, we’d seek out the tackiest souvenir we could find and take a photo of it. It was just about having a bit of a laugh and trying to outdo one another on family trips. It could have been a tacky…

Words from Sicily: Recalling the road to Noto

Image c/o comune.noto.sr.it From the 14th to the 16th of May, Noto Syracuse will be hosting its annual Infiorata flower festival. The grand carpet of flower design will cover the entire length via Nicolaci as per usual. Or at least as usual as can be expected with the interruptions caused by a global pandemic. Respecting…

Words from Sicily: Taormina

Taormina has long since been Sicily’s most favourite resort town, perched on a coastal bluff that looks out to the Tyrrhenian Sea between Messina and Catania in the north east of the island. Its ancient narrow streets are full of little specialist shops, cafes and restaurants, which are an invitation to step into the spell…

Words from Sicily: A stroll with St Leo

The 8th of May marks the big festa patronale at Sinagra, the Sicilian village where I live. Each town in Italy has its own patron Saint who is celebrated during the year according to traditions. Every place has an intimate bond with their saintly protector and gradually through the years they have become a part…

Words from 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 from 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 from 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…

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…