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

Stanze al Genio: preserving Italy’s majolica tile treasures

Collector Pio Mellina first took an interest in traditional Italian hand-painted “majolica” floor tiles around the age of 12, when he used to go rummaging around antique markets in Sicily with his art-loving mother. Their bright colours and varied patterns were the initial aspects that intrigued him. These often revealed glimpses of the origin and … More Stanze al Genio: preserving Italy’s majolica tile treasures

Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

At a first glance, Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, to the east of Palermo, could be a villa like any other. But walk further into its gardens, and you will enter into the strange and mysterious world of Francesco Ferdinando Gravina II, the eccentric 18th century Prince of Palagonia. The villa was constructed on behalf of … More Villa Palagonia: the enchanted mansion of monsters

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: Gerace

During his travels around the southern Italian region of Calabria in 1847, the English poet and artist Edward Lear stopped in Gerace and reserved significant praise for this town, which is perched on a 500m-high cliff near Locri. In the diaries he wrote about his trip (Journals of a Landscape Painter in Southern Calabria), the author of “The Owl … More Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Gerace