Lectures and Workshops

An expert in Sicilian culture, Experience Sicily Owner and Curator Allison Scola leads a number of workshops and lectures at universities, libraries, and events.

Tarantella: Southern Italy’s Folk Music and Dance Traditions

Allison Scola, Owner and Curator of Experience Sicily leading a tarantella workshop at University of Pennsylvania (Photo Credit: Lilly Veneziano-Broccia)The folk music and dance traditions of Southern Italy, widely known as the tarantella, are as diverse as the Italian peninsula and islands’ regional cuisines and languages. This lecture-demonstration and interactive class will introduce the history, legends, rhythms, music, and dance steps employed for centuries by the people of Apulia, Campania, and Sicily. The presentation will connect participants to the timeless power of the tarantella and its exuberance, tenderness, and passion. Students should be prepared to sing and dance, and they will be introduced to the unique technique used for playing Italian frame drums.

The Music of Sicily: When North, South, East, West, and Humanity Collide

Music is an instrument by which we can gain profound perspectives on world cultures. The music of Sicily, with its varied forms as expressed throughout the centuries, offers us a glimpse into the lives of peasants through nobility. Work songs, prayer chants, love laments, art songs, and modern popular music will give participants an introduction to the humanity of the largest island in the Mediterranean. Musicians and artists such as Vincenzo Bellini, Rosa Balistreri, Ignazio Buttitta, Fratellia Mancuso, and Carmen Consoli will be some of our guides for this lecture/performance. Participants will be invited to sing and dance.

The Feasts and Foods of SicilyAllison Scola, owner and curator of Experience Sicily talking to student at University of Pennsylvania (Photo Credit: Lilly Veneziano-Broccia)

For this lecture/conversation/tasting, we will travel through Sicily via the island region’s seasonal celebrations and feasts. Various dishes will be our guideposts as we learn about feast days and annual rituals such as New Year’s, the Feast of Sant’Agata, Carnival, Saint Joseph’s Day, Easter, the Feast of Santa Rosalia, Ferragosto, the Feast of Santa Lucia, and more. Participants will be asked to contribute their mixing skills and taste buds for our journey.

The Divine Feminine in Sicily

Before Christianity, the people of Sicily and Southern Italy celebrated the mother goddess and other female divinities with fervor. We will discuss some of the ancient myths and mystery cults of these divine feminine icons, the ancient sites in Sicily and Southern Italy dedicated to them, and how age-old rites have been transformed into contemporary rituals celebrated utilizing music, dance, and food. To get a sense of some of these rituals, students will be invited to learn some dance steps and eat some of the celebratory dishes.

Saint Joseph’s DayAllison Scola performing for Saint Joseph's Day at Bar Eolo in New York City. (Photo Credit: Lou Manna)

March 19 is Saint Joseph’s Day or la Festa di San Giuseppe in Italy. In Sicily and southern Italy, Saint Joseph’s Day is steeped in tradition and ritual. Experience Sicily’s Owner and Curator Allison Scola will explain the centuries-old practices along with the significance of the cuisine enjoyed annually. For more, see her article published by The Inquisitive Eater, “Saint Joseph’s Day: Loaves for Thanksgiving, Charity, and Abundance.”

Cannoli: Nothing Better in the World

Cannoli are Sicily’s most famous–and probably most loved–food. Experience Sicily’s Owner and Curator, Allison Scola will discuss why we love cannoli, how they are made, and the traditions behind this storied pastry. You can’t talk about cannoli without having some too, so any lecture about this topic will include a tasting! Learn more about Allison’s cannoli discussion and tasting via her article published in The Inquisitive Eater,  “I Cannoli, Nothing Better in the World.”