52 Reasons to Love Sicily | #29. Ancient Surprises

After being sacked by Arab conquerors in 878 and its Norman-era steeple and stone roof collapsing with the historically powerful earthquake of 1693, the current baroque-style cathedral, dedicated to the Navtività di Maria Santissima, was constructed at the beginning of the 18th century. Still today, though caked with layers of architectural history, Siracusans will point…

The Light Of The World In Cefalù Cathedral

Santissimo Salvatore della Trasfigurazione (also known as Christ Pantocrator) anchors the apse of the UNESCO recognized cathedral, or duomo, of Cefalù. Boasting a remarkable Byzantine-style mosaic of Christ Pantocrator (pictured), the cathedral was commissioned in 1131 by the visionary Norman King Roger II after his ship found refuge on this spot during a harrowing storm….

From the Stone Garden

The Parrocchia San Sebastiano in Palazzolo Acreide, Sicily offers a classic example of the elegant, UNESCO recognized architectural design of the “Late Baroque Towns of the Val di Noto.” Palazzolo Acreide is one of the towns that make up the UNESCO site. The town was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1693 that flattened much of…

Holding Court in Siracusa

The Duomo of Siracusa represents layers of history. The foundation–both base and walls of the structure–is an ancient, Doric-style Temple of Athena, built in the 5th century BCE (Once inside, you can easily see the columns of the Greek temple!). During the Byzantine age in the 7th century CE, the temple was converted into a…

These Eyes

These eyes are iconography known as an ex-voto. Ex-votos, which are most often in the form of body parts, are very common in Sicily. They are given to a saint or divinity at his or her sanctuary by pilgrims as gratitude for healing of an ailment or grace received. These eyes pictured, were given to…