Ascending Into A Different Realm

Today, walking up and down Caltagirone’s Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte felt magical. There is something ethereal about connecting the “upper and lower” parts of town via this 1609 staircase–here with spring flowers decorating it! It’s as if you are ascending into a different realm using the 142 steps that have unique, colorful majolica…

Voilà, It’s Majolica! 

Santo Stefano di Camastra is one of Sicily’s ceramics centers. There is an entire street of the town lined with ceramics shops that are filled with majolica ceramics (maiolica in Italian). Majolica describes a technique of decorating earthenware (ceramics made with red clay, AKA bisque or biscuit) that has been fired at a relatively low…

One with the Tiles

Here I am, one with the tiles of Caltagirone’s Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte, which was built in 1609 to connect the old lower town to the new upper town. Since 1954, each of its 142 steps was decorated with a unique design of colorful, handcrafted majolica ceramic tile, a craft for which the…

Absolutely Genius 

For something extraordinary and off-the-beaten path, I recommend a visit to Le Stanze al Genio (The Rooms to the Genius), a collection of majolica ceramic floor tiles focused on designs from Naples and Sicily that were produced from the end of the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Housed in the 17th-century…

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…

An Inspired Workout

Caltagirone’s Staircase of Santa Maria del Monte was built in 1609 to connect the old lower town to the new upper town. Since 1954, each of its 142 steps was decorated with a unique design of colorful, handcrafted majolica ceramic tile, a craft for which the city is world renowned. (Photo Credit: Experience Sicily’s Filippo…

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,…