The origins of the Sicilian flag date back to the 13th century, but its symbols are of an even older age. It is in fact represented by a “triscele” – better known as “trinacria” – and a “gorgoneion”. The trinacria, (first appeared in some coins used in Syracuse in the 3rd century BC) whose origins would be “Indoari”, depicts a being with three legs, while the gorgoneion, the face placed at the center of the flag, is clearly Greek: this symbol represents the head of a mythological monster, the Gorgon, often identified with the face of Medusa, with snakes instead of hair and with the power to petrify with her gaze who looked at her. With the arrival of the Romans, spikes were added to the head, symbol of fertility. The three legs would then indicate the geographic conformation of the island with its three promontories – Capo Lilibeo, Capo Peloro and Capo Passero.
Simple and immediate the logo designed for Palermo Capital of Culture 2018 by the 22 year old Sabrina Ciprì – student at the Academy of Arts – declines in four languages the cultures that laid the foundations in the city of Palermo.
Cannoli are made of tube-shaped fried pastry dough stuffed with a cream made of sweetened sheep ricotta. Then candied fruit or chocolate chips are added and the pastries are finished with a dusting of icing sugar. Delicious!
According to the historian Fazello, the Church of St. John of the Lepers was the first of the Norman buildings erected in the city, when Robert the Guiscard and Roger of Autville besieged Arabian Palermo. For others, it went back to the period of Roger II, in the first half of the 20th century and draws its name from a leprous hospital, now destroyed, which the king himself built in memory of his brother Goffredo.
By now it almost seems a lost art: embroidery, spinning and weaving. Nevertheless, the passion and initiative of a group of people ensure this rich Sicilian tradition is not forgotten altogether. The Northern coast of the island, from Palermo to Messina, used to be the Sicily’s “silk road” and there’s evidence of embroidery dating back to Norman times.
We celebrate the holidays without knowing why, worrying about buying gifts, organizing trips to get away and preparing feasts for lunches and dinners. Who knows how many of us will taste Cuccia, savor Buccellato, eat a Sfincia for Saint Joseph or delight in some almond dough fruit and still remember why these typical “treats of the Saints” were created and how they sailed through the centuries to get to us. Each preparation is linked to events and rites that sink into our oldest past and tell us about needs, survival and spirituality that it would be better not to forget nowadays.
The Berlingieri marquises are the new owners of the Boldini’s painting depicting Donna Franca Florio, which will be put on display in Palazzo Mazzarino, one of their properties. The painting was the most valuable item amongst the furniture, sculpture and ceramics that went to auction last march from the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, where it had been on display since 2005. Donna Franca, best known as the “Queen of Palermo”, was also nicknamed the “Star of Italy” by Kaiser Wilhelm II and described as “unique” by Gabriele D’Annunzio. She was beautiful, elegant, and fluent in four languages, she was the ambassador of a city that dreamt of being the economic and elite capital of Italy.
The Four Corners (Quattro Canti) are the symbolic centre of Palermo, where via Maqueda and Corso Vittorio Emanuele intersect under the eyes of Spanish Kings and patron saints. Palazzo Costantino Di Napoli rises there with its 8,700 sq.m of stuccoes, frescoes, stairways and 18th-century rooms.
A life lived among puppets. The art of puppeteer and storyteller Mimmo Cuticchio is recognized as a cultural treasure. There’s something fitting about tracing the story of this icon when Palermo has been named Italian Capital of Culture 2018.
On Saint Lucia’s day, which would like the fast of the devotees, the heretic is one who does not eat the famous arancina. Or rather those who do not make a real feast of rice balls. This day you can smell fried in the air. You can hear it coming out of the takeaways, but also from the houses of those who prepare the symbol of this party at home. The arancina at Saint Lucia’s day can be compared to the dove at Easter or the panettone at Christmas.