What An Apse!

After a Bohemian Rhapsody-style thunderstorm early this morning, we headed to Palermo where our guide Jacqueline guided us on a walking tour from the Palermo Cathedral through Quattro Canti, the Church of Santa Caterina, the Fountain of Shame, and other sites of the Centro Storico (Historic Center) of Palermo.

Our senses were sparked by the smells, sites, sounds, and tastes of Ballaro’ market and a lunch of Palermo’s world-famous street food. Jacqueline and I had to eat all of the pane ca meusa (spleen sandwich) that our “intrepid” travelers were afraid to try! And that’s after only Rich and Tony tasted the stigghiola that I purchased to pass around! After lunch, we headed south to Monreale, where we had a special tour of the UNESCO recognized Arab-Norman cathedral. Special because we were able to walk up to the apse of the church and get the closest I’ve every been to some of my favorite mosaic scenes. You can see it on video from when ealier today, I broadcast live on Facebook.

What you’ll see is the signature Christ Pantocrator mosaic, William II’s throne, a scene of William II being crowned by Jesus Christ, and a scene of the Virgin Mother receiving the church from William II, who commissioned Monreale Cathedral to be built in late 12th century. I didn’t talk much while recording the video because I was in the the church; however, the video gives you a sense of the size and scope of this treasure that boasts more than 68,000 square feet of mosaic-tile scenes. All of that gold you see, is made from gold!

Watch it to experience Sicily together!

The Olive Report, Part 1

This is the olive report! They are getting close to harvest, but still need some time. I’ll be back at this tree in a week. At that time, I’ll give you an update as to how they are doing! October is harvest for table olives, when they are ready.

Meanwhile, we picked up our Enchanting Sicily guests at Palermo airport today (Not A very exciting place to photograph.), and tonight, we had a wine pairing with dinner at the wine estate where we are staying in Scopello. The owner, Cinzia, gave us a wonderful explanation of Alcamo wines (Trapani province)… And our dinner of fresh fish was exquisite!

Palermo’s Genius at Villa Giulia

Today I spent a glorious day in Palermo, which included a visit to Villa Giulia, a public garden that was commissioned in 1777 (More about that in a future post). In the midst of the park, I was so excited to see this version of The Genius of Palermo, the “Fontana del Genio a Villa Giulia.” This 18th century statue created by scultptor Ignazio Marabitti is one of eight representations of a crowned man with a snake feeding on his breast that can be found throughout Sicily’s capital city. The Genius of Palermo is an ancient icon — so ancient that the mythological pre-Roman origins of it are uncertain. Il Genio di Palermo is considered to be the secular protector of the city and its multicultural inhabitants. In the 19th century, it became the symbol of desired freedom from the oligarchic Bourbon lords.

Follow my live posts via Experience Sicily ‘s Facebook page during our Enchanting Sicily tour through October 4. Let’s experience Sicily together!

Breezy Day in Sicily

Buongiorno from Sicily! Fabulous trips always start with a stop at La Rotonda in Casteldaccia… Where the sea greets you with delicious breezes. What a gift of a day!

Stay tuned for more…

Let’s experience Sicily together!

Packed and Ready

All packed and ready to go to Sicily! I hope you’ll follow our Enchanting Sicily tour. I’ll be posting here live during our travels. Please follow Experience Sicily on Facebook too for my live broadcasts!

Let’s experience Sicily together!

Summer Breezes

Curtain fluttering in the summer breezes of Levanzo island (off the northwest coast of Sicily) with Padre Pio altar

Still Life in Scopello

A recycled wine barrel (After a few uses, you have to retire the barrels.) and a basket and broom made from dried palms, that were probably picked in Los Zingaro Nature Preserve

Be Inspired Intellectually

Our small-group tours of less than 12 people offer travelers special opportunities to interact with locals–even if they only speak Italian and you only speak English. Between our local, English speaking guides and my cultural interpretation (both literally from the Italian language and conceptually, by discussing Sicilian culture with you through an American lens), we have many stimulating conversations each day–everything from how Norman King Roger II (d. 1154) cultivated a Renaissance in Sicily two centuries before the better-publicized Florentine one to how in the last 25 years, the presence of the Sicilian Mafia has changed dramatically, inspired in large part by the deaths of these two judges, pictured, Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino.

When you travel with Experience Sicily, we aim to inspire you intellectually, so once you’ve returned home, your journey of discovery has only just begun.

We Slept Here

Between me and my cousins in Sicily — that is, my Experience Sicily colleagues — we work diligently to research, inspect in-person, and whenever possible, sleep at the accommodations that we hand-pick for our clients. Whether you are traveling with us as part of a small-group, multi-sensory tour, or we are designing a custom itinerary for you and your loved ones, we match you with the region’s most comfortable, breathtaking, and hospitable, characteristic inns and hotels in order to delight you.

No need to read dozens of reviews by strangers on the Internet! When you travel with Experience Sicily, we take the guessing out of where to stay because we’ve been there, and as a result we know you will love it.

Trade In the Switchbacks

There are a few things going on in this photo–Mount Etna’s craters in the background, the medieval town of Randazzo and its cathedral in the middleground, and a steep valley and a very curvy road in the foreground. Now, imagine if you were driving on this road. You’d have to focus on the switchbacks–and from experience, I can tell you, the big trucks coming around those bends in the opposite lane too!

Driving in Sicily is not for the faint-of-heart, which is why I recommend that you join me for one of our small-group tours. Yes, I have self-driven all over Sicily in everything from a Fiat 500 to a 9-seat van; it can be done! However, I will say, having a local, professional driver at the helm, so you can gaze out the window and enjoy the breathtaking scenery like this, pictured, makes for a tranquil trip (and a lot less gasping because of on-coming traffic!).

Stand by for a special announcement about our 2018 small-group (i.e., no larger than 12 guests!), multi-sensory tours in the days ahead.

Let’s experience Sicily together!