Naples’ Pharmacy of the Incurables: merging science, magic, and art

Naples’ Ospedale degli Incurabili is an old and still-functioning hospital in the centre of the southern Italian city that is linked to a wealth of interesting stories of early medicine, magic and alchemy, religious people and those recognised as saints for dedicating their lives to helping the poor and sick here. Founded around 1520, it … More Naples’ Pharmacy of the Incurables: merging science, magic, and art

Sicily’s puppets and the precious role of the storyteller

Sicilian puppeteer and storyteller Mimmo Cuticchio has seen the role of the island’s traditional puppet theatre change over the years, from a daily ritual for many, to an outmoded form of entertainment, to a re-emergent symbol of Sicily’s culture and heritage. Throughout all of these changes, the 69-year-old has remained dedicated to his art, unable … More Sicily’s puppets and the precious role of the storyteller

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