It’s late here in Aci Catena on Sicily’s East coast where I’m staying with my friends of You, Me & Sicily. After a long day of traveling, I’m beat… One tip: buy travel insurance! My flight was delayed 7.5 hours because of an airline strike. I missed a whole day of meetings I had planned. But, this view of the sea from my room is the consolation (as will be the compensation from my “trip delay” insurance claim!)! Can’t wait to wake up and see it in daylight. Buonanotte!
As I settle in to my flight to Catania, Sicily (more on that tomorrow once I arrive!), I hope we’ll be able to see each other in New York City in March.
Please join me!
SUN., MAR. 12, 2PM: Hands-on Bread-making — like this loaf pictured from the Museum of Ritual Bread in Salemi
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SUN. MAR. 19, 2PM: Prix-fixe Saint Joseph’s Day Feast
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On first glance you’re probably thinking that this photo should be for Halloween, but the fun and games displayed by the Chiofalo family in Sicily are for Carnevale! Yes, it’s this time of year that the costumes come out and tricks and treats are practiced and enjoyed. Get ready for Carnevale – – Sicilian-style, because you are coming with me! I’m flying to Sicily tomorrow. Stay tuned for my live adventures! Now, what are you going to be for Fat Tuesday?
Know what these are? If you guessed that these are cannoli forms, you are right! Cannoli are a traditional food of Carnevale, which is celebrated with gusto over the next few days throughout Italy. Children of all ages participate in the modern festival, which is based on ancient customs of “letting it all hang loose” before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and in agricultural communities the arduous Spring planting season.
The shape of Cannoli, eaten as a sweet street-food for centuries before ice cream existed, is symbolic of the “freedom of the flesh” and fertility rites that were practiced since pre-Christian times. (It is the “planting season” after all! (wink))
February 21 is International Tourist Guide Day! So, today, I celebrate my fantastic guides in Sicily who take such good care of our Experience Sicily clients. Pictured here is Sebastiano Garifo who has co-hosted 3 of our two-week long tours.
Carol, pictured to the right of Sebastiano said of her 2015 tour with us, “The combination of culture, food, music, sightseeing, religious sights, and camaraderie is wonderful. It is a unique way to see this beautiful island and experience its people and culture. Our guide and driver were the best team I can imagine.” Now, that’s something of which we are very proud. Bravo Sebastiano! I am fortunate to be part of such a solid team. Thank you Carol!
One of my new favorite hidden corners of Sicily is Salemi in Trapani province. And in Salemi, one of the most fascinating off-the-beaten path things to do is visit the Museum of Ritual Bread. Gaspare Cammarata (pictured with me here) is the curator of this collection of bread loaves from all over Sicily that have been made by women and men as an act of prayer to their patron saints such as San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph), San Biagio, and Saint Elizabeth, to name a few.
As a tribute to these practices, I’m very excited to be hosting two events in New York City that truly show Sicily’s profound culture and celebrate the vitality of life-giving bread. Please join me!
SAINT JOSEPH’S DAY HANDS-ON BREAD MAKING WORKSHOP
Sunday, March 12, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Cacio e Vino, 80 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
Those who love making crafts and cooking will relish an afternoon of socializing and creating beauty with dough. Join us for ritual bread making for St. Joseph’s Day or La Festa di San Giuseppe, one of Sicily’s most important feasts.
During the family-friendly afternoon, you’ll learn about Sicily’s traditional St. Joseph’s Day altars and the folklore related to the feast. You’ll make your own bread loaves, like those pictured, and at the end of the session, you’ll bring home the loaves you made, which you are invited to bring back and display on the altar we’ll build for the feast celebration, also at Cacio e Vino, on Sunday, March 19.
The ticket cost pays for the supplies for making the bread loaves as well as snacks including fresh focaccia, salami, and cheese selections (all served family-style), a glass of wine, a cappuccino or espresso, and cookies.
CELEBRATE ST. JOSEPH’S DAY with a PRIX-FIXE LUNCH
Sunday, March 19, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Cacio e Vino, 80 2nd Avenue, New York, NY
Join us to celebrate La Festa di San Giuseppe or Saint Joseph’s Day!
San Giuseppe, or Saint Joseph, is perhaps the most venerated saint south of Rome.
In the 10th century, a drought caused a severe famine. Devotees of Saint Joseph prayed to him to bring rain, and in return, they promised to hold a feast in his honor. Rain and recovery from hunger did come, and since then, the ritual-feast of Saint Joseph has been practiced.
The prix-fixe menu for the afternoon includes a full lunch of traditional Saint Joseph’s Day dishes, wine, soda, coffee, and tax and gratuities.
GelsominoImports.com will have artisanal products from Sicily for sale.
St. Joseph’s Day Luncheon Prix-fixe Menu
Maccu con Crostini e Salsiccia (Fava Beans with Sausage on Crostino Bread)
Rianata Pizza (Onions, Anchovy, Tomato, Caciocavallo Cheese, Breadcrumbs, and Oregano)
Bucatini con Sarde
(Bucatini pasta with Fresh Sardines, Pine Nuts, Fennel, Raisins & Toasted Breadcrumbs)
Involtini di Pollo alla Siciliana (Sicilian Style Rolled Chicken)
Salmone con Capperi, Pomodori e Olive Verdi (Salmon with Capers, Tomatoes & Green Olives)
Sfingi di San Giuseppe con Ricotta e Vanilla Cream
2 glasses of wine or soda and coffee
Tax & Gratuity are also included.
Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s opera house that opened in 1897, is a master work of Greek and Roman inspired architecture designed by Giovan Battista Filippo Basile (1825-1891). The interior frescoes of the theater were painted by artists Rocco Lentini, Ettore De Maria Bergler, Michele Cortegiani, and Luigi Di Giovanni, who likely brushed this detail I photographed of the ceiling of the Pompeian Room, also called the Rotonda of the Mezzogiorno.
Known affectionately as the Echo Hall, this gilded age space is a nod to the the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome. Because of its circular shape, as you approach the center of the room and make sounds, your voice reverberates with an echo throughout the chamber. Furthermore, the images pictured (and those not) are packed with symbolism: from the seven-pointed star in the skylight (representing the Goddess Venus) and the 14 petals surrounding it to the 28 medallions of men’s and women’s busts and 14 doors–all based on the mystical number seven. When you take a guided tour of the opera house (or have a few minutes to explore it at intermission), you’ll have the opportunity to see how your voice carries.