Leave The Past In The Fire

Release today what you don’t want to bring into the new year! There isn’t a long history of celebrating New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day in Sicily. Only over the past century has it become a milestone holiday. Therefore, modern Sicilians celebrate New Year’s Italian-style–eating sausage (cotechino), grapes, and lentils. (Lentils, with their coin-shape,…

The Old Fashioned Barber In Sicily

Locals acting out how things were done at the old fashioned barber shop during last year’s Presepe Vivente (live nativity scene) presented by the proloco (community board) of Licodia Eubea. The townspeople of Licodia Eubea turned the ancient, abandoned quarter of their village into a living diorama. It’s a fascinating combination of art, theater, and…

Saint Stephen’s Day in Sicily

Today is Saint Stephen’s Day, a national holiday in Italy. Sicilians and Italians spend the day with family and friends visiting presepi di Natale, or nativity scenes, like this one pictured, made by Zio Lillo in Sant’Angelo Muxaro, north of Agrigento. Even more elaborate are ones presented by actors or townspeople dressed as the Holy…

The Day After Christmas in Sicily

Today, Saint Stephen’s Day, is a national holiday in Italy. Sicilians and Italians spend the day with family and friends visiting presepi di Natale, or nativity scenes, like this one pictured from Chiesa di San Bartolomeo in Scicli. Even more elaborate are ones presented by actors or townspeople dressed as the Holy Family, accompanied by…

Merry Christmas | Palermo’s Caravaggio 

Merry Christmas!  This magnificent depiction of the Nativity was commissioned by Palermo’s Oratorio of San Lorenzo in 1609. It illustrates the newborn baby Jesus with Saint Francis (top right) and Saint Lawrence (left) looking over the shoulder of the Virgin Mother. Painted by Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610)) in the chiaroscuro technique, it captures…

Expecting Him …

These 16th century marble statues of the Virgin Mother and Saint Joseph came from the Church of Saint Stephen in Salemi, Trapani province. They are now housed in the town’s outstanding Museum of Sacred Art. The sculpture group of a nativity scene, which is attributed to Sicilian sculptor Antonello Gagini (1478-1536), is missing the Baby…