April 9, 2016
A young man from Gambia was peacefully talking on a street corner with friends from his native Gambia when a mafioso-type jerk from the neighborhood came up to them and started insulting them. Usually, the immigrants will turn and run. But Yusupha Susso, a 21-year-old Gambian stuck up for himself and for his friends. (more…)
February 7, 2016
The wall of Kindness in Via Celso in the city center
Following a European trend, someone in the heart of Palermo has started a "Wall of Kindness". One clothesline where people can leave what they want to donate, or take what they need, not far from the city's principal mosque. Here is a one-minute video report from La Repubblica.
January 19, 2016
The volunteers are part of a group that formed spontaneously to remove graffiti from the cars of Palermo's spanking new trams, Tramiamo Civita`. The local group belongs to a larger umbrella group, Retake, a national anti-graffiti association.
December 30, 2015
Palermo's brand new Archbishop Corrado Lorefice has installed four Nigerian refugees in the bishop's residence, the diocese's incredible palace across from the cathedral on Via Vittorio Emanuele: a young Nigerian woman, and a Nigerian mother of two small children.
He encouraged others to do the same, especially in this Year of Mercy as prescribed (more…)
December 17, 2015
From the Facebook group "Palermo in Bianco e Nero" (Palermo in black and white), a group pf passionate Palermo lovers, many of whom are amateur historians of the city, great connoisseurs of the city. I will translate the first few comments here:
When the palms were still little!
When the theater was brand new!
When Palermitans loved and respected Palermo. (more…)
October 31, 2015
The mafia charges monthly protection money even from traveling street vendors, like this guy who sells produce from his three-wheeled (more…)
October 24, 2015
Signora Maria and Dottoressa Riccobene in Ciolino.
I just came across an old photo of Signora Maria, who was the subject of the first chapter in Stone Boudoir. She is being held by one of the twin Riccobene sisters, either Antonietta or Rosaria, the pharmacists in Ciolino.
September 8, 2015
View from the Tower of S. Nicolo`, Albergheria, Palermo
On 12 September, the Tower of the Church of San Nicolo` in the heart of Albergheria in Old Palermo will be open until midnight for half-hour tours. The view is so beautiful. Palermo at night can't be beat.
August 20, 2015
Two immigrants from Ghana were riding the bus, the 101, which passes every ten minutes. Two local guys got on the bus, smoking cigarettes, which is not allowed. The immigrants asked the Palermo boys to put out their cigarettes, and the two started to beat up the immigrants, who defended themselves. The bus driver stopped (more…)
August 17, 2015
The Norwegian ship Siem Pilot docked at Catania and offloaded the 312 survivors of yet another Mediterranean crossing, and 49 corpses of those who died suffocated in the hold of the old fishing vessel they were on. Catania Mayor Enzo Bianco proclaimed a city-wide day of mourning and promised a dignified burial for all the bodies.
August 11, 2015
Some beauty for a change.
August 5, 2015
Night of the Shooting stars from the bell tower of the Church of San Nicolo in Albergheria, Palermo
The non-profit association Terradamare offers a unique occasion to tourists and locals alike to climb the stairs to the terrace around the belltower of San Nicolo` di Bari in Albergheria to see the night sky over the historic center of Palermo and to launch a little lantern from on high. Tickets are three euro. (more…)
May 4, 2015
Nearly 4,000 boat people from Africa were saved over the weekend. The ships of the Italian navy were employed in the continuous, non-stop rescue operations in the Mediterranean, aiding boats and rafts in trouble in the waters of the Strait of Sicily, between Lampedusa and Libya, bringing the survivors to the ports of Augusta, Reggio (more…)
April 27, 2015
Here is a video of a funeral cortege that stops traffic in the middle of Piazza Independenza in downtown historic center of Palermo. They open the door to the hearse carrying the corpse, and set off fireworks so the deceased can see them. One commentor said, " (more…)
April 17, 2015
After the crumbling of several buildings in the neglected Vucciria, the city has finally decided to spend some time and money fixing the historic market site up. It will take a year, with a firm that "works very fast", to pull up the limestone paving stones, work on the light and telephone cables and (more…)
March 20, 2015
From New York-based Karen La Rosa of LaRosaWorks.com:
"Draw each day with instruction, guidance, and handouts to deepen your understanding of drawing skills, your understanding of Sicily, and your own creative process, all done with an eye towards fun, exploration and discovery."
March 19, 2015
In 2006 I invited my sisters and a couple of close friends to join me in my Bue Marino rental house in a tufa mine on Favignana for the 20th anniversary (more…)
March 13, 2015
Via Pannetiere 3. My neighbor, but no one was home. A friend of mine let me sleep in her guest cave for a couple of nights, a couple of times. By the second time, she had inherited a different one which her youngest son used as a kid's club house. Comes with a view of the (more…)
March 10, 2015
An old photo of the sirocco room before it was filled with refuse. It is now clean and pristine again, thanks to the scouts of Sicily.
This is an outdoor sirocco room where eighteenth -century grandees would go to cool off in the summer when the hot, humid wind blew up from the Sahara. The source of the cooling, flowing water is a qanat. It is located withing the Palermo city limits, in a southern, somewhat rural, quarter called Altarello (more…)
February 25, 2015
We are deep into winter in Vermont and I am thinking about these blue and white places. Sicily is such a beautiful island. Scala dei Turchi is near the big town of Agrigento but actually in the smaller town of Realmonte, where I stayed for a few days in 2010. The white stone is hard-packed gypsum. Realmonte citizens are the happiest Sicilians I have yet found.
February 24, 2015
Just look at it. The aristocrats who danced here probably had their shirts laundered in the Danissini stream (see post below.)
February 22, 2015
Nice to think of these places during a Vermont winter. There used to be a tonnara here. The water is deep and cold because the seafloor drops off steeply just a few yards from shore.
February 10, 2015
Twenty-nine people died of exposure to the cold on a rescue from the sea. They died while being rushed to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island closest to Africa. They were rescued from some of the worst conditions at sea, waves twenty feet high.
Update: here is the story in the NYT:
February 8, 2015
Here is a fine shot of Palermo by day, the same scene as Palermo by Night, of my Feb. 1 blog post below. If you don't look down at the refuse and garbage on the ground, things look really good.
January 25, 2015
The two-year-old Rosalia mummified and on display at the capuchin catacombs. She is now in a space-age pod and not so accessible. Photo from Claudio Pezzillo.
Little Rosalia was embalmed so well.
January 22, 2015
My grandmother or my grandfather might have boarded one of these ships. Emigration is big business. It was legal to go to the United States, so my grandparents could travel ( separately; they weren't married when they left Sicily) in safe, steel ships instead of on rubber rafts or in unseaworthy fishing boats like the (more…)
January 21, 2015
Above is the link to the live web cam of the famous Teatro Massimo, on whose steps the last scene of the Godfather III was filmed. A new picture appears every minute.
January 20, 2015
La Zisa reflection pools. Photo: M. D'Ippolito
Palermo is famous for its Norman-Arab architecture. Here is the 12th-century pleasure palace La Zisa.
January 19, 2015
Archeogeologist Dr. Francesca Mercadante and her husband, Dr. Pippo Locascio, of Partanna-Mondello, have dicovered an intact megalithic Bronze Age village within Palermo's northern city limits, on the littoral below the cliffs of Capo Gallo between the seaside villages of Sferracavallo and Mondello.
January 16, 2015
Cristina Buccellato, artisan in Europe's smallest store, U Pirtusu, which means "The Hole" in Palermo dialect. The store is just one meter wide! Here is one of her latest creations. The charm is the Trinacria, a symbol of Sicily, with a cutout of the island in the center, all cut and worked by hand.
January 15, 2015
Here is another view of the Palermo city archives.
Today a thumb drive could contain it all.
January 13, 2015
The Palermo city archives off Via Maqueda is an experience in itself. It was designed like the inside of a cargo ship. It was recently spruced up and the staff offer guided tours of the collections. Thanks to Facebook group Palermo in Bianco e Nero for this photo. This shot is taken from the (more…)
January 9, 2015
From one of my favorite blogs, Amo Palermo. The author walks around the city center with a camera and snaps pictures of buildings and streets undergoing improvements. It's a blog with a lot of positive energy. The author now has a regular column in the newspaper Il Corriere .
January 1, 2015
A palm tree in an unusual snow storm in Palermo.
Front-page headlines on 1 January 2015. Snow on the beach at Cefalu`. Snow on the palm trees. Dirty city snowmen. Only two snowplows in all of the Madonie mountains. Photos sent in to La Repubblica by its readers at this link:
December 21, 2014
Spider Man, the burglar, caught with his backpack on.
For the autumn of 2012 I lived at the Palazzo Vannucci on the Cassaro, I had a third-floor bedroom that stretched from the facade of the palace to the back of the palace, plus the studio underneath that, (more…)
November 29, 2014
This used to be a second-floor French door with balcony overlooking the Capo market.
Much of Palermo's historic center, the largest in Europe, is walled up like this window in what used to be a lovely art deco building above the heads of the market merchants. Some such buildings house newly-arrived clandestine immigrants.
November 20, 2014
Two Flying Chairs
Near the end of the Capo street market in the quarter behind the Palermo cathedral is a narrow lane called Street of the Flying Chairs where once these elegant travel booths were made. The cabs were carried on long poles on men's shoulders and seemed to fly above the crowds. Men and women of (more…)
November 4, 2014
The tomatoes look just as good as the persimmons.
November 2, 2014
Persimmons at Ballaro` market
I ate my first persimmon in Palermo. You cut off the top and eat he flesh with a small spoon. So sweet, one does not talk while eating them. Friends will bring over a basket of them for dessert. They look like frosted tomatoes.
October 17, 2014
A multi-headed monster puppet representing the Cuticchio family of puppeteers
In the hundreds of episodes that make up one drama from the repertoire of the Siciilan puppet theater, there is one many-headed monster which appears only once onstage. This lifelike sculpture is a spoof on that monster, representing instead the now-deceased head of the Cuticchio family and his children, puppeteers all, growing from his head.
October 15, 2014
Loved this storefront
I found this nut and seed store while wandering the back streets of La Kalsa, the central Palermo neighborhood directly across the street from my palace rooms in Via Vittorio Emmanuele. I just liked the way it looked.
September 29, 2014
I was walking home from an event at the Santa Chiara urban mission in the ancient, low-income Albergheria neighborhood of Palermo when these boys who were kicking a soccer ball around in the street said, "Take my picture! We'll be on YouTube!"
August 16, 2014
Milky chandelier in a newly renovated palazzo in Via Maqueda, Palermo.
A chandelier hanging from what used to be a frescoed ceiling in a Via Maqueda palace.
August 10, 2014
Three-seater bicycle at the Mercato del usato, a flea market in Ballaro`, Palermo
Found this three-seater bicycle at the "mercato del usato", the used items market in Ballaro`. About a year and a half later I saw it again in the workshop of Palermo inventor Marcello Lampone.
June 11, 2014
Green olives, Ballaro` market
A bank of green olives for sale in the Ballaro` market street.
June 2, 2014
Immigrant woman and child in the Capo market street
The most colorful clothing can always be found in Il Capo market, whether on display or worn by the denizens.
May 14, 2014
Pasquale and Giuffrida's Memorial Wall
If you die young in Ballaro` someone will immortalize you with a giant mural of your face and maybe a garden, tended like an altar, that no one will defile. Pasquale Ferrara and Giuseppe Giufridda were two youths of Ballaro` and this mural of them was near the Mercato del Usato, the used items market, otherwise (more…)
April 14, 2014
A corner of the 100-seat dining room of the Accoglienza Femminile of Fra Biagio Conte's Missione Pace e Speranza
Last week I visited the Women's Home, one of three centers comprising Brother Biagio Conte's Mission of Peace and Hope. It houses roughly a hundred homeless women, palermitans and immigrants, single women, women with young children and women with infants. It is housed inside the former convent of Saint Catherine of Sienna in Via (more…)