Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Time

This year the Spring time change falls on Easter. More precisely, early Easter morning, when Europe sets the time ahead by one hour. Keep this in mind if you're traveling in Sicily this weekend. And... Happy Easter!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Easter in Sicily 2013

It's early this year, on March 31st.

Easter in Sicily is a magical experience. The Passion Processions on Good Friday are especially interesting. Our favourite is the one at Erice, a hilltop town of gray stone houses and streets redolent of Jerusalem's that was already standing in biblical times.

Another interesting event is Mass at the Byzantine Rite churches, especially Palermo's Martorana, built as a Greek Orthodox Church in the twelfth century.

It's a great time to visit, and taste an almond marzipan lamb.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St Joseph's Day 19 March

This year it coincides with the arrival of a new Pope, but St Joseph's day is always worthy of note.

Heralding the arrival of Spring, it gives us an excuse to indulge in sfinci. Read about this delightful treat.

It's also the ideal season to visit Sicily. Check out our Sicily tours for 2013.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Satellites and Rebels

The Italian national government has agreed with the Sicilian regional one that construction of the American MUOS installation should be stopped pending further study, and issued an order to that effect. (We discussed this in a January post.)

This question should be studied further but - speaking more generally - Italy is moving into a political phase that will not improve the economy or the country's international position over the next few years. The point of the MUOS debate is that a responsible NATO nation should consider its decisions before it signs an international agreement, and it should be consistent from year to year.

With the rebels of the 5-Star Movement seated in the national parliament, we can look forward to a crippling impasse at every legislative step. Debate is good, but if Italy leaves NATO or the euro (as some in the 5-Star Movement propose), her status as - at least until now - one of the world's ten most important countries will dissolve overnight, destroying any chance for that much-desired permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sicily's Provinces Abolished

Until yesterday, Sicily had seven provinces. They have been abolished. Now, as the result of a law passed by the regional assembly, our island will have less bureaucracy to impede its hoped-for economic prosperity. The former provinces will continue as geographic administrative districts, but unlike actual provinces these will not be obligated to maintain costly "mini-ministries" and overpaid bureaucrats like the useless provincial presidents and their staffs. There will be less redundancy and waste, and more accountability.

It so happens that the infamous provincial presidents were up for election next month. In effect, the positions they were hoping to win no longer exist. No problem, however, for the numerous provincial employees, who will be transferred rather than fired.

Last year, in a prescient move, the regional government abolished provincial licensing of tour guides - who can now work anywhere in Sicily. That's the kind of deregulation we'll see in 2013 as the role of the provinces disappears.

The island's recent attempts to reduce public spending, corruption and sloth are being observed with interest around the country as examples of policies to be implemented nationally.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sicily this March

Despite a few occasional drops of rain, this is a great month to visit Sicily, just before the main tourism season begins (in April).

This month's magazine presents an article on the delicious delights of St Joseph's Day, on Tuesday March 19th. You'll also find an item on Easter in Sicily. Easter is earlier than usual this year, on the 31st of March.