Thursday, December 26, 2013

Feast of St Thomas Becket 29 December

He is not widely venerated in Sicily, but it is here, at Monreale Abbey, that the first public holy image of Saint Thomas Becket, rendered as a mosaic icon (shown here), can be seen. Also, the cathedral of Marsala is dedicated to him. This was the first major church to be dedicated to the Anglo-Norman saint. Officially, he is "Saint Thomas of Canterbury."

Jackie Alio, one of Sicily's most popular historians, has written about Thomas Becket's Sicilian connection.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in Sicily 2013

Christmas in Sicily? Why not?

What we're really talking about is the entire season, which ends with the Epiphany on Monday, January 6th, a legal holiday in Italy.

The atmosphere is enchanting, the days are cool but not freezing and the sites to visit are not crowded like in April and May. And yes, flights and hotel rates might be cheaper.

Read our article about Christmas in Sicily.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Peoples of Sicily Tour November 2014

In connection with the publication of her most recent book, historian Jacqueline Alio will lead a tour of Sicily in November.

This is the only tour of our island available to the general market led by an internationally-known historian and scholar specialized in Sicilian history. (A few of Jackie's articles have been published on Best of Sicily over the years.)

Offered by our partner Sicily Concierge, this is a 10-day luxury tour that begins in Palermo and ends in Taormina. Being familiar with both Jackie and her work (which includes original research in medieval sources), we are bold enough to suggest that anybody who reads the book and takes this tour will end up knowing more about Sicily than most history professors and tour guides!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Peoples of Sicily

It's finally been released, soon to be available from Amazon and (in the United States) Barnes & Noble.

The Peoples of Sicily - A Multicultural Legacy is the first "general" history of Sicily written in the original in English by historians based in Sicily. Covering the period from antiquity to around 1500, its focus is the multicultural society of Sicily during the Norman-Swabian period, from circa 1060 to around 1266.

Unlike many histories, this one has a very real, very "current" message, in fact several. This makes it appealing even to readers who normally wouldn't read 300+ pages of medieval history.

But the history alone is fascinating. The book also contains a detailed chronology (timeline) and practical tips on places to visit, including those not listed in most guide books. (Read more >>>)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

December Holidays Before Christmas

The Christmas season is upon us, but two minor holidays are coming up in the next two weeks. The Immaculate Conception, a national holiday, falls on Sunday the 8th, so no bank closings.

The 13th is St Lucy's Day. This is the patron of Siracusa, but around Sicily rice balls (shown) and cuccìa are consumed while bakeries are closed.