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

Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

I first read about Stilo in the English poet and landscape painter Edward Lear’s account of his journeys throughout Calabria in 1847, which brought him to this hilltop town. Lear, who is best known for his nonsense poems including “The Owl and the Pussycat” spent part of that year walking across this southern Italian region … More Calabria in the footsteps of the poet Edward Lear: Stilo

Scylletium and its manuscript collector son Cassiodorus

A trip to the ancient site of Scylletium on the eastern Calabrian coast, south of Catanzaro, is a journey back along the historical roots of the Italian peninsula. Its beginnings are unclear, but in classical times it was either believed to have been founded by an Athenian colony involved in the Trojan War or by … More Scylletium and its manuscript collector son Cassiodorus

Le Castella: a pearl in the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea

Several of my Calabrian friends had told me about Le Castella, south of Crotone, long before I came to visit. I had looked at pictures of the castle here on its peninsula jutting out into the blue seas, an enticing sight that drew me to this place. But the photos did not compare to actually … More Le Castella: a pearl in the turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea