Chase Away the Dark

Let the fantastic monsters from Villa Palagonia (replicated on a wall down the street from the villa in Bagheria) chase dark spirits into the ether of history in order to make space for the good spirits of the New Year.  For information about New Year’s traditions in Sicily, visit my 2013 post.   

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…

Old Woman Winter 

At the busy intersection of Corso Vittorio Emanuele and Via Maqueda, in Palermo’s historic center, sits Quattro Canti–four corners. The crossroads is flanked by four 18th century Baroque facades, each with a series of statues: At the top, the city’s patron saints prior to Santa Rosalia; in the middle, the Spanish kings of Sicily; and…

Persephone’s Guidance 

As the seasons change where I live in the northeastern United States, and the days are darker longer, I turn to Persephone for assistance during the transition to winter. Part of the “Queen of the Underworld’s” responsibilities, once she descends into Hades each autumn, is the role of psychopomp–a guide for new souls crossing over;…

I am black but beautiful

Nigra sum, sed formosa = I am black but beautiful… From the Song of Songs, 1:5. The Black Madonna of Tindari is celebrated today, September 8. Black Madonnas, which are found throughout the Mediterranean basin, are venerated in localities where ancient goddesses such as Artemis, Isis, Venus, Persephone, Cybele, and Mater Dea were worshiped for centuries….

Rejoice! Progress in Palermo!

Palermo’s archaeological museum, Il Museo Archeologico Regionale “Antonio Salinas,” houses one of the world’s most robust collections of ancient Punic and Greek art and artifacts. Priceless pieces from sites across Sicily are represented; however, for the past 5-6 years, the museum has been closed for renovation and its collection has remained behind the locked doors….

Sicily’s Modest Venus

Found in the Acradina quarter of Siracusa in 1804, the Venus Landolina is named for the archeologist, Saverio Landolina (1743-1814), who discovered the statue. Made from Greek marble in the 2nd century AD, the Roman era work is a copy of a Greek era work from the 2nd century BC. Because it is an unclothed…

Santa Rosalia Purifies the Evils

“Il festivo,” which takes place on the evening of July 14, is a big street party that unifies Palermo’s citizens through a procession that symbolically purifies the city from the evils that have long afflicted it. For this annual celebration, each year Palermo commissions a new statue to represent its patron saint, Santa Rosalia. Like…

Viva Santa Rita!

Right now in Castellammare del Golfo, we’re celebrating Santa Rita, the patron saint of abused wives and heart broken women. Yesterday was her feast day, but tonight in Castellammare del Golfo they processed this beautiful statue. Santa Rita lived a model life in the province of Perugia (Umbria) from 1381-1457.

Bellini is Tops

Catania and Sicily are very proud of their “son,” the opera composer, Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835) featured here in Catania’s center. Bellini was born into a family of musicians in Catania and left Sicily at 18 years old to study at the conservatory in Naples. He lived abroad for the rest of his virtuosic life, dying…