Siracusa’s Myth of Aretusa

In May, during our tour Myths & Mysteries of Sicily: As Above/So Below, we’ll be staying right near this stunning Fontana di Diana in Ortigia, Siracusa that tells the story of the Nereid-water nymph Aretusa and her protector, the goddess Artemis/Diana. One day while hunting in the forest in Greece, Aretusa decided to take a…

She was Dark and Beautiful

This morning, a wish of mine was granted when we stopped in the town of Custonaci (Trapani Province) to visit the Sanctuary of Maria SS. di Custonaci. I wrote extensively about this Madonna–a Black Madonna–in August. You can read that post here. True to what many scholars who have studied the folklore of the Black…

Galloping through Modica

The Sangiuggiari, or devotees of Saint George in Modica, will process the statue of San Giorgio slaying a dragon through the town’s streets on Sunday, May 24. Confetti and fireworks annually mark the start of a winding parade during which faithful men carry the heavy statue on their shoulders–sometimes galloping to simulate the horse on…

Another Legend Explaining the Moor’s Head

In the past, I’ve recounted one legend of the origins of the decapitated Moor’s-head vase. Last spring while visiting my friend Sebastiano, co-owner of Gelsomino Imports (Sicilian artisanal products), in Castelvetrano, he told me of a different legend of the origins of these ubiquitous ceramic vases, like these pictured in Taormina. It goes something like…

A Legend of Revenge

An odd, yet popular decoration seen on terraces, garden balconies, topping gate-pillars, and sometimes as the base of lamps – as pictured here, are ceramic busts of kings, queens, and moors. The owners fill the majolica vases with flowers or other plants, or in this case, electricity. I’ve always found this to be creepy because,…

A Palermo Legend

During the Spanish Inquisition that took place in Sicily between 1478 and the 1700s, Friar Diego la Mattina was an Augustinian monk who was jailed periodically for a number of counts against him. Legend says, that in 1658, he was falsely accused by the Spanish of heresy, and he was sentenced to death.  Before his…

History or PR?

The crumbling, probably 14th century, coastal warning tower at Isola delle Femmine reminds us of the legends of how this island got its name. There are three theories that I learned from the locals of the mainland town by the same name: in the 16th century, it was a women’s prison, in the 19th century,…