Discovery of A Synagogue 

In 1492, the Catholic King of Spain Ferdinand decreed that non-Christians in his domain, which included Sicily, would have to convert by 1493 or leave the Kingdom. At the time, 7 percent of Sicily’s population was Jewish, according to scholar and author Jacqueline Alio. Many Jews left the island and others converted to Christianity, a…

Splurge in Agrigento

This is the view from our hotel room tonight. On your trip, this is where you splurge on a 5-star hotel … in Agrigento!  Here’s what you are looking at: The Temple of Concordia is named for a Latin inscription that was found on a dedication marker unearthed in the vicinity of the archaeological site–i.e.,…

Teatro Massimo’s Gilded Echo Chamber

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…

The Results Of A Dream 

The cloister, or in Italian “chiostro,” of Monreale Cathedral always pleases me. Its 228 individually designed and decorated columns offer visitors a sanctuary from the bustle of the city of Palermo, which is about 30 minutes by car to the north. Monreale Cathedral was commissioned by the Norman King William II, “The Good” (1172-1189) in…

The Splendid Zisa

When approached from this side angle, you can see that La Zisa (a name derived from the Arab word “El Aziz,” or The Splendid) is a combination fortress and palace. Commissioned by Norman King William I (1153-1166) and completed by his son, William II (1172-1189), the residence, now a museum and historic architectural wonder, is…

Palermo’s Foro Italico

Once called the Marina, the Foro Italico is Palermo’s communal seafront. After being neglected and inaccessible for years after World War II, today, the long public park is where Palermitani take walks, play soccer, ride bicycles, and bask in the sun. It’s also where large-scale events like the fireworks during Il Festino, the city-wide party…