Palermo’s big night: the festival of Saint Rosalia

During an English lesson in Rome, a student of mine from Palermo was the first to tell me about the patron saint of his town: Saint Rosalia. He explained the story of the “Santuzza” or “Little Saint”, who went to live as a hermit in a cave on Mount Pellegrino, near to the Sicilian capital. … More Palermo’s big night: the festival of Saint Rosalia

Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

On my Tuscan travels, I stopped for the evening in the medieval village of Monticchiello, where I was able to contemplate the surrounding landscape like a painting as the sun set. Perched on a hill in the Orcia valley, this small fortified town is an unspoilt jewel which offers stunning views of Pienza and the … More Watching the sun set from Monticchiello in Tuscany

Exploring the depths of Procida’s Abbey of Saint Michael

I visited Procida in the bay of Naples earlier this year and after a delicious fish meal by the shore, I prepared to explore the most intriguing corner of the island: the Abbey of Saint Michael the Archangel. It’s perched on the highest point of Procida, in the “Terra Murata” surrounded by fortified walls built in the … More Exploring the depths of Procida’s Abbey of Saint Michael

Caltagirone and its yellow and blue ceramic jewels

Caltagirone is one of the towns in Sicily that I remember most vividly: the bright blue and yellow colours of the ceramic tiles that decorate its pavements and walls, the interesting Arab influences, and the stunning views of the surrounding plains. The town’s history predates the Greek settlements in Sicily– necropolises found nearby are from … More Caltagirone and its yellow and blue ceramic jewels

Enjoying the festivals of St Joseph along the southern Sicilian coast

One of the best things I experienced in southeastern Sicily were the festivals of Saint Joseph, held in different towns on various days around March 19, his traditional feast day and Father’s Day in Italy. I took part in the festivities in three places: seaside village Donnalucata and the nearby towns of Scicli and Santa … More Enjoying the festivals of St Joseph along the southern Sicilian coast

Watching the bejeweled bambino bless Rome

I first read about the Holy Bambino statue in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli when I was researching nativity scenes in Rome. Before Christmas I went to the Capitoline hill to see the little jewel-encrusted wooden statue of the baby Jesus in its chapel and discovered the miraculous events associated with it. The original … More Watching the bejeweled bambino bless Rome