Monday, May 31, 2010

American style...

American style + Catanese facade

Levi's have never looked so good!

(but only for looking, I'll never buy my Levi's in Europe--way too expensive!)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catania's castles

I am sucker for castles and have had the chance to visit many during my time in Italy. To visit my favorite I don't have to go very far, since it is right here in Aci Castello. When friends and family are in town for a visit I am happy for the excuse to make the climb up for breathtaking coastal views and what always turns out to be a meandering exploration of the many different spaces within, that includes a charming cactus garden and funky civic museum.

Although a little more planning is necessary to visit Catania's Castello Ursino, a recent family outing reminded me that it, too, is worthwhile. Piazza Federico di Svevia, in which the castle is the centerpiece, is an inviting space with some benches and greenery in the middle of a residential neighborhood in Catania's historic center. I find it fascinating that when this castle was originally constructed in the 13th century it was actually positioned right on the coastline that is now located a mile or so away due to the 1669 Etna eruption.

The castle we see today is the result of an 1830s restoration. You have to walk across a small bridge that spans the moat to get inside for a visit to Catania’s Museo Civico. The admission is free, and on the ground floor you can see archaeological pieces that were mostly collected by the Prince of Biscari in the 19th century. From here you can also exit the castle for a walk around its base for a true sense of the building's monumentality. Back inside, there is a second floor to visit that displays Sicilian religious paintings, as well as a small gallery that is dedicated to rotating exhibits.

Catania is surprisingly (or as some might say, embarassingly) short on museums for a city of its cultural richness and size, but at least this museum is attempting to fill that gap. Although I do hope that the city’s archaeological museum will reopen someday, here you’ll spend a pleasant hour or so viewing a small museum in an impressive Norman castle, without spending a penny.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

All you ever wanted to know about Sicily

If you are interested in Sicilian history, please check out this video via, clever, humorous and most importantly, Sicilian! I could barely follow the narrator who speeds through the history of this island in a way I never dreamed was possible, but I love the graphics and the message is clear--Sicilian history is a jumble of clashing cultures and never ending change. Am also pleased to have discovered this new blog that, in addition to selling traditional Sicilian sweets and pastries in its on-line shop, also generously reveals some of those hidden gems about the island worthy of discovery for travelers and foodies alike. This post really makes me want to plan a trip to the Nebrodi mountains, an area neither myself or Sicilian hubby have visited.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I love NY

Oh no, I really have disappeared from the blogosphere! I have stumbled into that trap--fall behind your posts and you might never catch up. I have an immense backlog of photos that continues to pile up and remind me of all the wonderful things I would like to share with you. But for now, let me post this shot of Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture that helps, at least in part, to explain my recent absence: a very last-minute trip to NYC where my west coast based immediate family converged with my extended east coast family and I found my heartstrings could not be left out of this one. So my son and I crossed the Atlantic for 9 days of jet lagged fun. It was totally worth it and we were so lucky to be able to make it home with no delays despite the cloud of volcanic ash that covered so much of Europe. This sculpture really does sum up my sentiments for the Big Apple -NYC, I really do love you!