Monday, November 29, 2010

Archbishop Romeo named cardinal

On November 20th the archbishop of Palermo, Paolo Romeo, was named a cardinal. Not an unexceptional nomination, perhaps, as the archbishop of this city is usually made a cardinal sooner or later.

Later, in this case. It seems that the archbishop's subtle differences with certain ideas emanating from the Vatican delayed his nomination by at least a year. On the other hand, with the Pope's recent visit to Palermo it was clear that the "elevation" couldn't be forestalled forever.

The archbishop is not only the bishop of the largest Italian city south of Naples. He is, by tradition Primate of Sicily as well. This title dates to the 12th century Norman rule of the island. Today, like the title Patriarch of Venice, it is largely symbolic because Sicily is no longer a sovereign nation (primates of places like Ireland have a more defined role in the hierarchy), but he does have ceremonial precedence over other Sicilian bishops.

Congratulations to His Eminence.

Friday, November 5, 2010

St Martin's Day

Here in Sicily, November means lots of things: cooler nights, shorter days, olive harvests, novello wine, and Saint Martin's Day. The feast of St Martin is celebrated with Moscato wine, one of Sicily's sweet amber delights, and hard biscotti. Read about it in the current Best of Sicily Magazine.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Historic Families

With the November number of the Best of Sicily Magazine we are publishing the first article of our Historic Families series. These are profiles of families that left a mark on Sicilian history. In most cases, the obvious trace still visible is a castle or palazzo. In an effort to avoid glorifying present-day personalities (there are gossip rags for that), the families described are now extinct and are - for the most part - medieval. The point of this series is to shed some light on the people behind certain landmarks and to present a bit of history with a "personal" touch.

The first family profiled are the infamous Chiaramonte clan. Their castle, Palermo's Steri, is shown here.

A point sometimes raised is that historians direct more attention to aristocrats than to the ordinary people who actually built the Steri and cultivated the land that made the nobles wealthy. The response is that little has been recorded about these people in the other social classes as individuals. Until the 19th century the history of Europe is largely the history of the aristocracy.