A Palermo Puzzle

Just a short distance from Quattro Canti in the centre of Palermo is Piazza Pretoria, a name that conjures visions of grandeur (the Praetorian Guard were the elite Roman soldiers who were bodyguards to the emperors).  Here the name derives from the 15th century Palazzo Pretoria (also know as the Palace of Eagles) which forms one … Continue reading A Palermo Puzzle

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Baytown

On the day that Bernardo Bertolucci died, one of the articles I read contrasted his and Marlon Brando's behaviour on the set of the notorious Last Tango in Paris, with a present day pairing of comparable stature; Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis.  Coincidence of course, but I'd spent a gloomy morning in Robin Hood's Bay on … Continue reading Baytown

All Greek to Me

Of the various places that I stayed on my tour of Sicily it would be fair to say that Siracusa was my favourite.  It had an unfair advantage in providing me some of the best weather of my trip but there were far more reasons that the temperature for my response to the city.  Perhaps … Continue reading All Greek to Me

Our Thing

It would be impossible for me to write about my travels in Sicily without a mention of their most famous export. Or perhaps as we shall see it also falls under the category of import. I'm talking about the Mafia of course and let me be clear from the outset that this a personal reflection; … Continue reading Our Thing

Rock Follies

Some months ago I wrote a piece about Studley Royal water gardens, and how they were created by John Aislabie when he retired from government in disgrace at the end of the South Sea Bubble Affair.  As Chancellor of the Exchequer he was greatly responsible for the scheme which was intended to refinance public debt … Continue reading Rock Follies

Lacking Inspiration

I've been less than kind about my home town of Sunderland's attempts at public art and architecture, though the posts were so long ago that I feel safe in raising the issue again, because the town's decision makers just keep doing it again. The Millennium may seem a long time ago now, but it was … Continue reading Lacking Inspiration

Excursion to Vigàta

I've referred in earlier Italian posts to my enjoyment of Michael Dibdin's Aurelio Zen detective novels, which through locating the protagonist in a different city for each story combine whodunnit, travelogue and social commentary.  In Blood Rain, Zen is posted to Catania in Sicily, where the rivalries of different crime families and darker political forces combine to … Continue reading Excursion to Vigàta