Words about 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 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…

Sicilian Impressions: History

Wherever you find yourself in Sicily, history haunts you and comes alive in a visceral sense. This slumbering knight in the Duomo at Noto, Syracuse tells us his story with effortlessness as if he is about to sit up on his crib and talk to us.

Sicilian Impressions: Maschere

Carnival time in Italy is filled with endless fried desserts, parades, tricks and masquerade. The masks can be beautiful like the ones at Venice’s world famous Carnevale or terribly ugly like these. When you see one do not be afraid, they are harmless they only want to be offered a glass of wine or mime…

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…

Sicilian Impressions: Landscape

Sicilians are at one with their landscape, their towns and houses peek out from behind the vegetation like large boulders which seem to have always been there.

Sicilian Impressions: By road

I cannot reiterate enough the joys of exploring Sicily by car, it is easy to zig zag the island through mountains and valleys, weaving your way through endless small towns. Sicily by road means effortlessly experiencing the ins and outs of the islands landscape and stopping at a local roadside Trattoria or family run restaurant…

Sicilian Impressions: Winter

I used to think visiting Sicily in the winter is a sad and cold way of experiencing the island but I have changed my mind. I love the feeling of having the place to myself. The lava filled countryside near Etna is infernal in the summer and so the wintry months offer the perfect time…

Sicilian Impressions: Etna

Mount Etna is the most active volcano in Europe and is my current fascination. Sicilian writers have the burning heart of Mongibello deep within their hearts, so much so they barely acknowledge it in their words. For someone new to the island like this once Unwilling Expat, the mountain offers endless images over the ever…

Sicilian Impressions: Castello Nelson

One of the most fascinating historical sites I have discovered in Sicily is the Castello di Maniace (also known as the Castello Nelson) outside the small agricultural town of Maniace in the extensive plain between Bronte and Randazzo a city literally at the feet of Mount Etna. Admiral Horatio Nelson was given the estate of…

Sicilian Impressions: Ficarra

Sicilian villages are amazingly steadfast and stoic. I am constantly impressed by the way they have been constructed a top the mountains in the most unlikely places as if they have always been a part of the landscape. This is Ficarra in the province of Messina which casually lounges on the Nebrodi mountains looking out to…

Sicilian Impressions: Wind turbines

Flamboyant Italian art critic, politician and intellectual Vittorio Sgarbi has criticized the use of wind turbines in some of the most picturesque mountains in southern Italy. Sgarbi says they have ruined the natural beauty and wasted millions of Euro without producing much energy, going as far as to suggest links with organized crime. I tend…