Site for Sore Eyes (Pt III)

The third and final jaw dropping moment I experienced in Sicilian churches was not in one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site listed buildings; it was the Jesuit Church of the Gesú in Palermo. This is not Arab Norman (hence its exclusion from the list), and being constructed during the 17th and 18th centuries is … Continue reading Site for Sore Eyes (Pt III)

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A Site for Sore Eyes (Pt II)

The second location from the UNESCO seven that I want to write about didn't move me to tears, but probably only because it followed so soon after the Cathedral of Monreale.  All the same it is an absolutely astonishing space.  I use the word space because it's part of a building rather than the structure … Continue reading A Site for Sore Eyes (Pt II)

Kings, Viceroys… and a Count

I mentioned some of the different ethnicities that have ruled and influenced Sicily through out its history in an earlier post but it's worth adding a little more as context for this piece, though volumes could be (and have been) written about European royalty during the middle ages.  Suffice to say that borders were fluid, … Continue reading Kings, Viceroys… and a Count

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

Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad

In its original definition the word "quarter" refers to a fourth part of a whole, though I'm not sure of the origins of phrases such as "servants' quarters" where the term refers to rooms allocated to a specific group.  Surely this was never so rigidly allocated as to refer to 25% of the original property? … Continue reading Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad

Putting Down New Roots

Thank Marco Polo for bringing noodles back from China and inspiring all those wonderful pasta variations. Or maybe not. In a recent programme for the BBC, ancient historian Michael Scott suggested that Arabs brought strips of semolina similar to tagliatelle to Sicily a century earlier. With only a 100 miles or so of the Mediterranean … Continue reading Putting Down New Roots