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Bagheria aka as Baarìa in Sicilian

In 1989, while living in Virginia, I saw an Italian movie, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, which won an Academy Award as Best Foreign Film.  Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, a native of the Sicilian town of Bagheria, told the story of a projectionist, Alfredo, and his young assistant, Salvatore during the 1960’s. Most of the movie is played as a flashback of Salvatore’s memories from his childhood years spent in Bagheria and shows the deep friendship that had grown over the years between Salvatore and Alfredo as they both worked the projector in the town cinema, named Paradiso. Under Alfredo’s encouragement,  when he grows up, Salvatore leaves Bagheria to pursue a career in movie making and does indeed become a successful moviemaker living and working in Rome.  In the movie, Salvatore, who has been away from Sicily for thirty years, learns of the death of his old projectionist friend, Alfredo, and returns for Alfredo’s funeral.  Ever since I saw the movie, many years ago, I had wanted to visit the town of Bagheria, located not far from Palermo, and I finally did on a hot summer day.

I started my walk around town at the Bagheria Train Station.


Walking down the alley across from the train station.




Corso Umberto during afternoon siesta when shops are closed.

bagheria corso umberto primo altra.JPG


bagheria corso umberto 1.JPG

In the XVIII century, Bagheria became the summer vacation spot for many wealthy families from Palermo.  There are many villas that were built in those days but only one is open to the public.

One of the Villas is Villa Trabia

bagheria villa trabia 2.JPG


bagheria villa trabia.JPG

While walking down the Corso on that HOT summer afternoon, I saw these two young girls out for their stroll Read more…

Parco Museo Jalari – A Visit to the Tools of the Past

The city of Messina lies on the Northeastern tip of Sicily; at a one hour’s drive West of Messina is the town of Barcelona Pozzo di Gotto, the largest town in the municipality of Messina.   A drive up the hills that are the backdrop to the town of Barcelona Pozzo di Gotto will lead to Parco Museo Jalari.  This open air museum is dedicated to the old trades and offers a display of old tools for a variety of trades. The Park Museum lies in a beautiful natural setting, offering from its various corners a glimpse of  the Northern Coast of Sicily from up high on the hills.  As one walks along the paths adorned by trees and native plants, over forty workshops can be viewed each telling a piece of history.   From sewing and weaving, to grooming and shoe making, to wine making and other agricultural practices, one can see original artifacts of the trades utilized by artisans in the past.

One of the paths in the Parco Jalari

path in parco jalari

sculpture 2 parco jalari

sculpture on a path in parco jalari

Sewing and weaving

antique spinning wheel and more

Old wooden loom and embroidery loops

weaving loom

Shoe making


Old barber’s utensils

old barber shop

Old wine press

old wine press

Old Sicilian cart wheels and tools

parts of old sicilian carts

Old sewing machines and radio

sewing machines parco jalari

Old irons in tailor’s shop

tailor workshop parco jalari

View of the Northern Coast from Parco Jalari

terrace parco jalariview of the sea from parco jalari

This is a place worth visiting on a trip to the Northern Coast of Sicily.

Hiking Mt. Etna at Night

Mt Etna holds a special place in my heart and although I also love visiting the volcano at night, it is only when I can join some friends and not go alone that I enjoy  its nocturnal beauty.  On the evening of my last last daytime excursion up Mt Etna, I joined some friends and their children for a night time hike up the volcano. At that time,  Mt Etna had been erupting for several days and we decided to hike up an area that would allow to see the lava flowing at night if the eruption were still taking place.

After consulting with experts of the area, the decision was made to head towards Monte Vetore, a mountain formed by a past eruption, at a point which would offer a view of the spot where the recent eruption had been taking place.  That night, the eruption was not taking place, but the hike and the whole experience was well worth the trip!!!

We drove through some back roads known by my friends and arrived at Strada Provinciale, SP, 92, which is the main road that leads from the town of Nicolosi, on the Southern part of My Etna to the Cable Car, Funivia dell’Etna.  At the 14th Km point on this SP 92 we parked on the side of the road where it split.  At this point, on the left hand side is Monte Vetore.  The hike up this mountain from the point where we parked  was approximately 30 minutes; our goal was to reach its highest spot, its dormant crater.  That night the ground was covered in snow and the moon’s reflection on the snow created a wonderful light to lead our way.  We were carrying flash lights, but at one point, we decided to turn them off and let Mother Nature lead our path.

Before reaching the top of Mount Vetore, during the climb up, we walked by an Observatory, the Astrophysics Observatory.  This is a good landmark for anyone trying to make sure they are on the correct path.  Shortly after the beginning of the hike, we ran into a picnic table and benches and stopped to eat our snack.  Then, slowly, we walked up the side of the mountain.  After reaching the top, the crater, we decided to walk around the perimeter of the crater  returning to the side of the mountain we had hiked.  We looked over to the side where the eruption had taken place earlier that week but saw no action, no eruption taking place.

After enjoying the feeling of being wrapped up by the stillness of the night mountain air  and the magical lights cast among the trees by the moon, we decided it was time to walk down to our starting point, close to our parked car.   Upon reaching the final point, close to the car, we sat on the wall along the road to take in one last view of this beauty of Nature.  What we did not expect was to suddenly see a flash of light, a squirt of lava coming out of the mountain adjacent to us.  Yes, right there, the spot we had expected to find the eruption if it had taken place.  There were two lovely children in our group, one seven and the other eight years old.  When that squirt of lava just made its appearance disappearing in just a few instants, one of the children exclaimed: “See!  Mt Etna wanted to say Hello to us and sent out a squirt of lava!”

What an exciting feeling and we all were so glad we got a glimpse of the lava!  After returning home that night I could not take out of my mind the feeling that had arisen from such a beautiful experience.  I plan to return to nighttime excursions on Mt Etna in the future, but the memory of that special excursion on Mt Etna, guided by the moon through the forest, will stay with me for a very long time!!




Mt Etna at 2,500 Meters Elevation

Here I am in Virginia getting ready for a very important family event and  writing about my recent experience on Mt. Etna, in Sicily.  On March 3, 2017, I drove up Mt. Etna, Etna Sud, driving the twenty kilometers on SP 92 that lead from the town of Nicolosi to Rifugio Sapienza. Rifugio Sapienza lies at approximately 2,000 meters elevation, to the left of the Funivia dell’Etna, Etna cable car entrance. I took the Funivia dell’Etna, the Cable Car, as seen in the photo below in the building marked EXCURSIONS, which took me up to 2,500 meters elevation.  Due to an injury, I was not able to ski, so for the first time ever I visited this altitude as an observer.  At the 2,500 meter point, there are vehicles of the Funivia dell’Etna that take people up to 2,700 meters elevation to a location called Il Belvedere. For several reasons, I chose to stay at 2,500 meter elevation enjoying the view, soaking up the sun and taking pictures.


Rifugio Sapienza

Up at that elevation, one can enjoy the view of the many dormant craters which have formed over time and enjoy a view of the coastline, the Ionian Sea. Following are some videos and photos I took that day.

Heading up to 2,500 meter elevation in the Funivia dell’Etna.


Funivia dell’Etna arrival point at 2,500 meters. The terrace from which I took the picture below  usually has chairs for people to enjoy sunbathing and take in the views, but that day there were none!!!

etna 1 march 3 2017

View from 2,500 meters of  Etna smoking

etna 2 mar 3,17

Video taken at 2,500 meters


Riding the Funivia dell’Etna back down

My trip up Mt Etna was just thirteen days ago.  This morning, while checking the headlines online of the Sicilian newspaper, La Sicilia, I read of something that happened this morning right in that area.  Right at the Belvedere spot, approximately 2,700 meters altitude, a group of visitors that had gone  to that point with the vehicle of the Funivia dell’Etna departing from the cable arrival point in which I took the above photos, had a huge surprise.  Due to the recent snowfall covering the mountain and the incandescent lava of a new eruption which just started this week, a “phreatic explosion” took place.  I learned by the article that such an explosion is caused by the incandescent lava coming into contact with the snow covering the area. It was described as an almost “instantaneous evaporation of the water with a consequent explosion of vapor, water, ash and rocks.”  Of the people being hit by this morning’s phreatic explosion seven ended up in the hospital. What a freaky experience!

On the evening of March 3, 2017, the day I have described in this post, I joined some friends for a night time hike up Mt. Etna to try and see the explosive eruption that had been taking place that week.  I will write about that experience in my next post.






Snow Covered Mount Etna

This winter, 2016-2017, Mt. Etna has been covered in snow.  Following a few pictures I have taken this February.

Etna seen from the airplane


Southern slopes of Mt. Etna


Etna seen from Taormina




Finally, my friend Maria has shared the following picture of Mt. Etna taken on January 1st, 2017.  On that day, Mt. Etna had three fumaroles!etna-tre-fumarole


SICILIAN ROOTS – An Interactive Book



In this post, I would like to introduce my ibook on Sicily, Sicilian Roots, which has just been published on iTunes.

For a sample of the book or to download the book go to the following link: