Friday, 15 February 2013

The Festival of San Corrado - Noto, Siracusa

Buongiorno amici! I hope that many of you, even if you are not in Italy, have had the chance to enjoy some 'Carnevale' celebrations, or at least had the pleasure of enjoying some of the delicious Carnival food sold around the world!

Next week, on the 19th February, the Siracusan city of Noto will celebrate its Patron Saint and protector, San Corrado. Corrado Confalonieri originated from 14th century Piacenza and chose to leave all of his possessions behind to become a Franciscan monk and undertake a pilgrimage across Italy. He eventually retreated to a grotto in Noto and lived his life as a reclusive hermit. He was known as a kind, generous man who performed many miracles and when he died on the 19th February 1351, legend has it that the church bells started to ring of their own accord.

Church of San Corrado - Valley of the Miracles

Corrado was made a Saint on the 28th August 1515 and his mortal remains are carried through the streets of Noto in both February and August to commemorate his life and good deeds. These celebrations are renowned as being among the most poignant on the island of Sicily and thousands of Sicilians come to the town each year in honour of the Saint; many of the devoted followers choose to follow the procession barefoot. A marching band leads the procession and in the evening there is a spectacular firework display which can be witnessed from miles around.

The city of Noto is famous for its 18th Century buildings including the beautiful cathedral and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can read about Noto's annual flower festival which takes place in May in last year's blog post -

Enjoy this Italian video documentary about last August's San Corrado festival in Noto, made by a local news team -

A presto!

Debra Santangelo

P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog please become a follower by registering at the Google 'join this site' icon at the top of the blog page. Grazie mille for your support!!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Almond Blossom Festival - Agrigento

Buongiorno a tutti! As the evenings start to turn lighter and we head into February, many of us start to look forward to the onset of Spring. The winter snow was fun and Christmas was enchanting as always, but I, for one, am certainly ready for the first rays of Spring sunshine to make their appearance.

On that note, I would like to talk about one of my favourite events in Sicily - La Sagra del Mandorlo in Fiore or 'the Almond Blossom Festival'. This annual event takes place in the majestic city of Agrigento and celebrates the first almond blossoms of the season - one of the earliest visible signs that Spring is coming.

The main city of Agrigento lies on a plateau overlooking the Mediterranean Sea on the southern coast of Sicily. It is the site of the ancient city of Akragas which dates back to around 580 BC and was described by the poet Pyndar as ''the most beautiful of mortal cities''. A great number of visitors come to the area to view some of the best-preserved Ancient Greek temples outside of Greece itself, which are situated in the 'Valle dei Templi' (Valley of the Temples) to the south of the city. This is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

From the 1st until the 10th February, the city comes alive with colourful folk dancers from across the world exhibiting their traditional costumes and dances for the gathered crowds. Local restaurants and bars in the area serve delicious almond dishes and vibrant processions take place throughout the town.

Enjoy this wonderful video which shows the festival's highlights from last year -

If you can't make it to the festival then why not enjoy some almond and honey cookies or 'Mastazzoli'. The recipe is at on my Christmas blog post -

A presto,

Debra Santangelo

P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog please become a follower by registering at the Google 'Join this site' icon on the right of the blog page. Grazie mille for your support!!