A stroll around San Quirico d’Orcia and its public gardens

When I was preparing my trip to Tuscany while working as an English teacher in Rome, I surveyed my Italian students to uncover the best hidden jewels in the area around Siena. One of them I remember immediately suggested San Quirico d’Orcia, a town I had never heard of but that sounded ideal for my … More A stroll around San Quirico d’Orcia and its public gardens

Cerveteri’s Banditaccia: the Etruscan kingdom of the afterlife

Cerveteri’s Necropolis of Banditaccia is the greatest example of Etruscan burial traditions and architecture and one of the most significant ancient sites in the Mediterranean. If you are interested in learning more about the Etruscans, who held power in the Italian peninsula before the Romans and strongly influenced its culture, Cerveteri is an essential stop … More Cerveteri’s Banditaccia: the Etruscan kingdom of the afterlife

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