Words from Sicily: Sicilian landscape

Looking up at the lush mountains across from me, I realise that the road on our side of the valley must be a mirror reflection of what we see on the other side, the landscape divided in half by a river at its floor. I am suddenly terrified. The bluffs are menacing, and a strange…

Words from Sicily: D.H Lawrence and the Sicilian landscape

I’m always being asked about Sicily’s landscape; what is it like? The truth is Sicily is very mountainous and difficult to negotiate. In its interior, the roads are constantly under repair or filled with detours; a short physical distance can turn into hours of curvey mountaintop back roads and deviations. While at times I find…

Words from Sicily: 100 Sicilies

Gesualdo Bufalino wrote about Sicily’s many different faces. He was fascinated by the multifacited nature of the island, filled with many paradoxes and contrasting elements that often exist side by side. The complexity and instability of the island’s cultural history has created an engimantic place which is difficult to define. Bufalino says how there are…

Words from Sicily: sunshine and the beach

I’m convinced the sunshine in Sicily has its own remarkable quality. Every time I find myself visiting my native Australia in the summertime, I remember how harsh and unforgiving the sun can be; there is a reason Australia is known as the sunburnt country. Summer in the Mediterranean is hot and humid but the sun…

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 about Sicily: Rambling around Taormina

My love of Taormina runs deep. It’s the first place I’ve ever taken any friend who has visited Sicily, and I simply adore exploring the town. I’m a little tired of visiting the Greek amphitheatre but not totally adverse to it, especially if the weather is excellent. You can see Etna (which hardly ever happens,…

Words about 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 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…

How to peel a fico d’india

The exotic prickly pear (fico d’india) is a delicacy in Sicily and thrives around the entire island. Known also as the Barbary fig (opuntia ficus-indica) it is a species of cactus cultivated throughout the world in arid and semiarid areas and is thought to be native to Mexico. It is best to taste them after…

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…

Postcards from Sicily: the end of Carnevale

The Sicilian Carnival is beginning to taper off at the end of February, the costumes, dancing and revelry officially comes to an end on the first Wednesday of Lent, known as Ash Wednesday the beginning of a period of sombre preparation for Easter. In these ever secular times some celebrations are extended to make the…

Postcards from Sicily: Icy blessing

From New Years to February my little part of Sicily has been blessed by snow. For me it is a blessing as I am Australian who had never seen snow until I moved to Italy in 2002, for those used to icy Northern Hemisphere winters I'm sure it's all like 'get over it will you.'…

Sicilian Impressions: Art

Sicily is filled with delicate pieces of art always where you least expect them. You will find intricate statues in dusty churches, decaying statuettes in the nooks of decrepit Palazzi. Fine art is always a surprise even if it is so terribly neglected by a country which is overburdened by an aesthetic abundance, sadly without…

Sicilian Impressions: Belvedere

Stopping at a 'belvedere' or lookout on the side of a Sicilian mountain road will give you a spectacular surprise and a sense of the expansive nature of Sicily. On a clear day you will feel like you are in the heavens looking out onto a new world. The closest belvedere to me looks out…

Sicilian Impressions: Naso

Naso, is one of those feisty Sicilian towns, perched high up on a seemingly precarious peak, it looks down the valley at Sinagra and hauntingly peers down at the cars driving down the mountains towards the coast. Literally  Naso is 'nose' in Italian and it would be more aptly named 'head,' but it is surely…