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

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

A moment in the oratory of St. Catherine of the Night

I’ve always hoped to discover more about St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). I was drawn to her firstly because I share her name, but also because she was a strong woman, producing a lot of spiritual writing, not being afraid to speak her mind, and working hard to help the poor and sick. When I … More A moment in the oratory of St. Catherine of the Night