Sicilian details: signs

I love taking photos of walls and signage; they have the same quality as an old postcard, like a memory of an ancient time. I took a photo of a fragment from a poem on a wall at Monreale. I liked the dirty paint, the lettering seemed like something from the Fascist period, and I…

Sicilian details: Taormina

Walking around Taormina, one of my favourite places to visit in Sicily, I came across an impressive lawyer's office. It was a few hundred meters down the road from the Anfiteatro; the ancient greek open-air theatre still used today for summer concerts. I imagined the lawyer closing his office late one summer night and strolling…

The story is always in the details

I use my camera like I'd use a notebook. I record little details and notes, things I've noticed or want to remember for later. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern which seems unusual. It could be a texture that catches my eye or how the sunlight hits a…

Leonforte

Goethe once said to have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy, for Sicily is the clue to everything. But to understand Sicily, you need to go to its geographical centre because the key to the island's identity is there. The province of Enna is known as the belly button…

Sicilian Provinces

Each province in Sicily has its unique landscape, dialect and cuisine. They are all quite diverse to experience. Palermo Palermo is one of the greatest cities of art and history in Europe. In the Victorian period, royal families would choose to holiday in Palermo. The city is filled with endless churches, historical neighbourhoods, palaces, and…

Bitesize pieces of Sicily

There are many ways of exploring Sicily, from visiting the bigger cities and tourist centres, food and winery tours or seeing the major historical sites, from Greek temples to endless museums.  Logistically moving around Sicily is difficult simply because of the mountainous landscape, poor infrastructure, lack of reliable public transport and confusing or absent signage.…

Exploring small Sicilian towns

When people come to Sicily, they tend to go along the well-followed tourist road, sticking to the main cities like Palermo or Catania or visit coastal resort towns like Taormina or Cefalù, which are all beautiful and worthwhile. Still, the island offers many more unique experiences.I always advise people to go and explore smaller towns,…

Life in the classical underworld

I sometimes feel as if I am a modern Persephone, abducted by my husband to live in the underworld. An underworld in the classical sense, the ancient Greeks' afterlife, the place where Hades, the ruler of the spirit realm, abides and where mythology finds its home. I wasn't kidnapped but somewhat constrained by my love…

Sicilian Status Quo

In my search to understand the character of Sicily, I discover the work of the Sicilian writer Giuseppe di Lampedusa. His novel, The Leopard, is set in the period of the Risorgimento when Italy violently transformed itself from a collection of principalities into a unified country. This masterpiece is filled with insightful observations on the…

Making friends with death

Since coming to Sicily, I’ve become more acquainted with death. In Sicily, mortality isn’t hidden in funeral homes or polite obituaries printed in newspapers. The end of life is part of every day, and the rites associated with mortality become tinged with a mixture of superstition and religion. The ceremony of death in Sicily makes…

My Father in law and his lawyer

My father-in-law looks like the classical Sicilian Mafioso. When I first met him, I found him intimidating, with his mumbling voice, imposing figure and well-kept moustache. As I spent more time with my new family, I discovered a doting grandfather. He helps his family in any way possible. He has a commanding presence over his…

Slow paced but dangerous

Life at the in-laws is slow-paced but pleasant. Their house is a few kilometres out of Sinagra, following the river inland. Taking a left turn up from the road parallel to the seasonal river bed brings you to a steep climb where the road turns left again abruptly on a terrifying hairpin curve. The steering…

Earning a nickname

There are no skeletons in the closet in small-town Sicily, as the broader population identifies every individual member with distinct soprannome or nicknames. These simple and often coarse caricatures have existed for generations and can pinpoint members of a particular family, or are earned after a significant event, distinctive physical feature or personality trait. A…

Getting under Sicily’s skin

Removing the mountain's skin is like exploring Sicily. This place needs to be dissected with a sharp implement to cut through all the layers of history, culture and society to uncover its raw heart. Carving up the mountains is impossible, and slicing through Sicily's different elements of life will prove to be just as tricky.…