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

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

Benevento’s jewels: The Holy Wisdom Church and its cloister

I had a free weekend in August so I was planning to book a few nights near the seaside in Puglia or southern Lazio. However, after discovering that nearly all the hotels along the coast were booked up or charging extortionate prices, I decided to turn inland and search for a place that would be … More Benevento’s jewels: The Holy Wisdom Church and its cloister

Villa Farnesina: a small but perfect Renaissance gem

Villa Farnesina is one of my favourite spots in Rome. Visitors I take there are always enchanted, but never overwhelmed, because it is relatively small yet truly stunning. I would recommend this Renaissance villa along the Tiber as the perfect way to start a relaxing or romantic weekend. Be careful though– it is only open from … More Villa Farnesina: a small but perfect Renaissance gem