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

Pentedattilo: one of the last great myths of the world

Pentedattilo, on the southern tip of Calabria, is the first true “ghost town” I have ever visited. Inhabited as far back as the Greek era in the 7th century BC, most of it is now just an empty shell, though local artisans are starting to open up workshops and trinket stores in some of the … More Pentedattilo: one of the last great myths of the world

Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

I first read about Stilo in the English poet and landscape painter Edward Lear’s account of his journeys throughout Calabria in 1847, which brought him to this hilltop town. Lear, who is best known for his nonsense poems including “The Owl and the Pussycat” spent part of that year walking across this southern Italian region … More Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

Scylletium and its manuscript collector son Cassiodorus

A trip to the ancient site of Scylletium on the eastern Calabrian coast, south of Catanzaro, is a journey back along the historical roots of the Italian peninsula. Its beginnings are unclear, but in classical times it was either believed to have been founded by an Athenian colony involved in the Trojan War or by … More Scylletium and its manuscript collector son Cassiodorus

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

Pieve di Corsignano: a pearl on the outskirts of Pienza

I was walking along the panoramic promenade just outside Pienza in Tuscany, admiring the wonderful landscape views of the Val d’Orcia, when I first spotted a circular bell tower between the trees. Pienza, rebuilt as an ideal Renaissance town by Pope Pius II in the fifteenth century, is a jewel in itself, but I had … More Pieve di Corsignano: a pearl on the outskirts of Pienza