Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pino Puglisi Beatified

Yesterday, at a ceremony in Palermo attended by 80 thousand people, a priest murdered by the Mafia twenty years ago was beatified as a martyr.

Our article about Fr Pino Puglisi talks about his life, and the activities that made him a Mafia target.

Incredible as it may seem, there are still many people, including those who head certain "ethnic" Italian organizations outside Italy, who would have you believe that the Mafia doesn't really exist.  That's ridiculous.

The Catholic Church now recognizes the existence of this criminal organization, and Fr. Puglisi is on the path to sainthood.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Euripides at Tindari

Tindari's Roman theatre is presenting its annual cycle of Greek plays through June 8th. This year Euripides' Trojan Women and Alcestis are being performed.

For tickets and information, visit their website at

The link to biglietti will take you to the ticketing page. The site seems to lack an English text, one of our common criticisms of Sicilian promotional material. But the productions are exceptional.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Bed and Breakfast Reality Check

Today your editor was pressed into service by his doorman to translate for a young English woman who was staying at a bed and breakfast in the 18th century building that houses our offices.

The woman, who was around 25, was traveling alone. She had found "Maria's" ad online. She arrived in Palermo, met Maria and her husband, and "checked in." The apartment was not part of Maria's house but a separate unit. So far so good.

The second evening, the English girl was disturbed by a man and woman entering the apartment unannounced, opening the door with a key. This was an older guy with a girl who seemed like his younger mistress. Whatever...

In any event, the man was very annoyed to find the young English woman there, and complained to Maria. The English girl spent the last night of her stay in a hotel.

The lesson is to be very careful in this unregulated field in Sicily. See our Sicily bed and breakfast article for solid advice.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best of Sicily Books

In cooperation with our partner, Trinacria Editions of New York, we'll be publishing several books over the next twelve months - everything from history to cooking.

Founded some years ago in Palermo, Trinacria has published books (in Italian) on a wide range of subjects and will continue to do so. The American venture marks the beginning of their publishing in English.

As it involves more than a single title dedicated to Sicily, this program eclipses those of other travel sites and represents a diversification for Best of Sicily and, of course, an advantage for readers. All of these books will be available as e-books as well as traditional paper ones.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

New Sicily Travel Ebook

Available for Kindle and Android, Tim Cawkwell's travel book gives impressions of an encounter with some of Sicily's famous sites, such as Monreale, Palermo, Segesta, Trapani, Scopello (Erice is shown here). But it is more than a travel book, since these encounters prompt wider reflections on the pleasures to be found in history, on the torments of the Mafia presence, on the idea of the Englishman abroad, and on Sicily as an 'island of the mind'.

The journey takes in Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Roberto Rossellini's film Journey to Italy, Andrei Tarkovsky's Solaris, Gavin Maxwell's Ten Pains of Death, Peter Robb's Midnight in Sicily, the photographs of Letizia Battaglia, ER Dodds's The Greeks and the Irrational. The essay takes as its framework the way a visit to Sicily healed Tim Cawkwell's diagnosis as suffering from inflamed arteries in the head. This leads finally to a consideration of Beethoven's last five piano sonatas heard throughout the visit as consolatory and healing.

This essay, which includes a number of photographs as illustrations, is an arresting mixture of the factual and the thought-provoking. Although Sicily in all its richness and pleasures is the immediate subject, Tim Cawkwell ranges beyond the geographical island to touch on profound questions about human existence.