The Cloisters Of Monreale

Norman King William II, “The Good” (1153-1189), commissioned Monreale Cathedral in the late 12th century. The cloisters were built in the Arab Norman style in the early 13th century by Venetian artisans. Today, the cathedral is part of the UNESCO site that features nine Arab Norman monuments. Its cloister boasts 128 columns, all possessing different…

Swimming In Sicily

During these gray days of January in the northeastern United States, I dream of summer in Sicily. Photos that I took of places I swam just months ago give me hope that it won’t be too long until I return to them. There are many different approaches to swimming in Sicily: beaches (both sandy and…

Cuccidati: Sicilian Christmas Cookies

Cuccidati, pictured, are traditional Sicilian cookies stuffed with dried fig filling. Associated with Christmas, both professional and home bakers make them, and some are more elaborately decorated than others. The filling is made with (This is a common recipe, but not all are exactly the same.) chopped dried figs, pumpkin jam, honey, raisins, almonds, orange…

Inhale and Exhale In Cefalù

Roger II, my favorite Norman king, fell in love with Cefalù when he took shelter here in a harrowing storm in the early 12th century. As a reward for the citizens’ kindness and hospitality, he commissioned the town’s stirring Arab-Norman cathedral, intending it to be his final resting place. He knew what was good! Take…

Ancient Sicily That Sings

This lekythos with a woman lute player depicted on it was found in a tomb at Selinunte. Lekythoi (plural) were vases used to store oils for use in the gymnasium or bath or for funerary functions. Note the red-figure. This was an Athenian-style technique specific to the 5th century BCE.