A Taste of Sicily with Richard Barber

Ahead of our Festival of Sicily from the 6th to the 10th March 2017, lauded historian and Sicilian expert Richard Barber shared his thoughts on the legendary island:

"When I first saw Sicily, it was the landscape that seemed tremendous: the evening that we arrived in Taormina, and opened the doors onto our balcony at the Timeo, Etna was paind the sky with delicate bursts of flame and lava, as if it was a command performance for our benefit. And returning three decades later to stay near Marsala, we were driven down the motorway from the airport under a full moon, whose light fell dramatically on the towering cliffs that embrace Palermo. In 1970, there were a few decent roads: the journey to Segesta from the centre of the island made it feel as if we were going to the temple at the end of the world. It seemed remote as when the Germon poet Goethe visited it over two hundred years ago, and found it 'at the end of a broad lengthy valley, on a lonely hill surrounded by rocks, dominating the vast open landscape'. "

"But after many return visits, it is the details that have become the overriding impresssion: standing on the scaffolding in the Capella Palatina so close to the mysterious ceiling darkened by centuries of candles, that we had to remove our hard hats to look at the newly -revealed glories of the medieval carvings, created by Arab artists for the Greek royal officials who administered the royal palace of the Norman king Roger II in the twelfth century."

"Phoenicians and Romans had been here before them: Catalans, French and Italians would follow, as well as the English families who built palaces in Palermo in the late nineteenth century. Cassandra's Bella Sicilia collection reflects the extraordinary diversity of the artistic riches of this island, from the golden honeycomb at Erice to the baroque balconies of Noto and the medieval capitals in the cloisters at Monreale".

When I first saw Sicily it was the landscape that seemed tremendous

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