Villa Palagonia, Sicily’s Baroque garden of monsters

Villa Palagonia, Sicily’s Baroque garden of monsters

  Monsters, mirrors and 18th century excess all meet at Villa Palagonia, one of Sicily’s strangest attractions.  Villa Palagonia is one of the earliest examples of Sicilian Baroque architecture, begun in 1705 by architect Tommaso Napoli as a summer residence for Don Francesco Ferdinando Gravina, fifth prince of Palagonia. Located in the seaside town of […]

24.12.2016 · Filled under: Architecture, Art, Europe · Tags: , · 2 Comments »
The exquisite 6th century mosaics of San Vitale, Ravenna

The exquisite 6th century mosaics of San Vitale, Ravenna

The 6th century mosaics in the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy, have been drawing pilgrims, art historians and lovers of beauty for nearly a millennium and a half. In all my Italian travels, how did I avoid visiting Ravenna for so long?  It was always slightly out of my way, easy to postpone. My art […]

04.03.2013 · Filled under: Architecture, Art, Europe, Italy, Spirituality · Tags: , , · 19 Comments »
Lagoon dreams: Venice, Burano & Torcello

Lagoon dreams: Venice, Burano & Torcello

I’ve dreamed of the lagoon since returning from Venice, dreamt of jade water shivering as it crosses sandbars, spangled with sun diamonds. Though we rented a car for several days to explore, we left it at the hotel that Sunday morning and took Bus 19 (about a 15-minute ride, 1.30 Euro) from our hotel in Campalto […]

International Couscous Festival, San Vito lo Capo, Sicily

International Couscous Festival, San Vito lo Capo, Sicily

Sicilian food, like its history, is a stew of cultural influences. Closer to Africa than Rome, and under Arab rule for 200 years during the Middle Ages, it’s not surprising to find couscous on menus in Sicily, especially in the western end of this Mediterranean island. Each September, the beach resort of San Vito lo […]

11.09.2012 · Filled under: Europe, Festivals & Events, Food, Italy · Tags: , , · 9 Comments »
Sicily’s seductive beaches and strange symbol

Sicily’s seductive beaches and strange symbol

More than 2,000 years ago, Greek sailors sailing the Mediterranean around Sicily gazed upon its golden shores and likened them to the alluring legs of a woman. They called the island Trinakria, or three pointed, identifying it with the Thrinacia mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. I love to wander Sicily’s beaches in the off season when […]

Strait of Messina, Italy: myth, magic and a controversial bridge

Strait of Messina, Italy: myth, magic and a controversial bridge

When Odysseus sailed the Strait of Messina he had a tough decision to make.  Sailing too close to Calabria would mean passing Scylla, a sailor-snatching sea-nymph with a body composed of ravening dogs.  Too close to Sicily and the  whirlpool mouth of Charybdis could suck down the entire ship. Navigating the water between mainland Italy […]

16.11.2011 · Filled under: Legendary Landscapes, Myths & Legends · Tags: , · 5 Comments »
Changing Sicily

Changing Sicily

Having married into a Sicilian family and visited it often enough to consider it a second home, I still succumb to Stendhal syndrome within an hour or two of arrival, willing victim of its beauty and exoticism. At the crossroads of the Mediterranean but on the fringe of Europe (it’s closer to Africa than Rome), […]