I spent the past week in Sicily. The main reason was a conference in Palermo but I also took a few days of to explore the island. Sicily was a part of Italy that I had little first hand experience with. This brief encounter, during unseasonable cold days, was absolutly fabulous. The place is stunning. Beyond the lore and its complicated history, the island is alive if obviously struggling. It is burdened with a legacy of organised crime and corruption but it also has to cope with many of the same problems the rest of Italy has to: unemployment, demographic change, immigration, raising costs and stagnant incomes. On first sight it appears resilient. Sicilians are equally displaying a Mediterranean patience and a southern pathos. At times the meridional intensity and craziness also comes through. Even its crumbling baroque cities have something very special. Busy and loud, they are far less aggressive than say Napoli. There is a sort of Spanish duende that lurks in the cultural matrix of the place. It mixes well with muslim hospitality and cuisine, norman austerity, and byzantine beauty. A true seafaring melting pot. In the coming days I will be posting images and notes from this Sicilian soggiorno.