Friday, March 30, 2012

Who runs Sicily?

It's not easy to tell. Here's an excerpt from Marilu Romano's article, now online. This snippet deals with the infamously mediocre universities in Sicily, just one small part of the Sicilian mosaic:

"Italy's universities are undistinguished, marked by nepotism... In Sicily the Brain Drain is very real.. In 2011 a grade-selling scandal came to light at the University of Palermo. Yes, staff (though not professors) were altering transcripts and other student records, charging a few hundred euros for each mark modified."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Plato's Sicily

Plato spent about a decade of his life in Sicily over the course of three extended visits.

At Syracuse, where he taught the heir of the tyrant (king), he conceived the idea of a utopian society. Utopia never came to be, but the philosopher made his mark.

Read about him in this article in the April magazine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fennel Season

The weather is still wintery (for Sicily) but Spring is just two weeks away and that means - among many other things - the beginning of fennel season. Italians call it finocchio, and it tastes great in pasta or even raw. Read about it in our fennel article.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Revising Sicily's History

It isn't much to look at, from the outside, but the Pisan Tower is the highest part of Palermo's Norman Palace, and in the twelfth century it was Sicily's only "skyscraper." The Phoenician site beneath it dates to around 700 BC (BCE).

The Norman kings established a state which existed, in one form or another, until 1861. That's when the newly-united Kingdom of "Italy" was established. The rulers and governments of this new state sought to erase as much "regional" history as they could.

Fortunately, they were only partly successful. Our article on historical revisionism tells the story.

What this means is that when you visit Sicily you can see the tangible legacy of real history, not just what Cavour, Crispi and Mussolini wanted you to see. If all of Italy's regions and cities shared an identical past, and were themselves identical, there'd be no reason to visit more than one of them. Happily, that's not the case. The Phoenicians, Greeks and Arabs are part of Sicily's story too.

It's just one of three articles in our March magazine. The others deal with the more appetizing topic of food.