The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily has been shaped by waves of conquest and settlement over 4,000 years.
This new special exhibition tells Sicily’s fascinating stories – from the arrival of the ancient Greeks, to the extraordinary period of enlightenment under Norman rule.
Discover a cosmopolitan island where the unique mix of peoples gave rise to an extraordinary cultural flowering. The art and objects they produced are some of the most beautiful and important in the history of the Mediterranean.
Sicily: culture and conquest – Exhibition at the British Museum
21 April – 14 August 2016
The largest island in the Mediterranean, home of Mount Etna, a cultural centre of the ancient and medieval world.
This exhibition tells Sicily’s fascinating stories – from the arrival of the Greeks and their encounters with the Phoenicians and other settlers, to the extraordinary period of enlightenment under Norman rule in the 11th to 13th centuries.
For much of its history, Sicily was admired and envied for its wealth, cultural patronage and architecture. In the exhibition, ancient Greek sculpture, architectural decorations from temples, churches and palaces, early coinage, stunning gold jewellery, and Norman mosaics and textiles demonstrate Sicily’s diversity, prosperity and significance over hundreds of years.
Come behind the scenes and meet curators Peter Higgs and Dirk Booms as they reveal some of the fascinating stories behind the Greek and Norman objects in our special exhibition Sicily: culture and conquest.
Even Sicilian carnival has to be considered as an interesting event, thank to artisans that put all their experience and efforts in order to realize allegorical carts. The most famous are the Carnival of Acireale (Catania), Sciacca (Agrigento) and Termini Imerese (Palermo) that thanks to the beauty of their carts and the participation of people can be compared to the popular carnivals of Viareggio and Putignano. The Almond Blossom Festival in Agrigento starts every year in February, and it’s a great feast that comprises parades, music and dances that made it an international folk event. The Danza del Taratatà in Casteltermini (Agrigento) is probably less known but it’s a great event too, with Arab influences in terms of rhythms, costumes and scenery. In the heart of the Madonie like Geraci Siculo (Palermo) or Giostra di Ventimiglia, in August we can attend medieval commemorations in which medieval costumes are worn, whereas in Caltagirone on July the 24th, the splendid stairs of the baroque church of Santa Maria del Monte are illuminated and create such a great atmosphere. On the same day you can also experience and the so-called Infiorata (Flower carpet) along its narrow street, the same event takes place in Noto. A cultural event linked to Luigi Pirandello is held in its native town, Agrigento, the name of this event is Studi Pirallendiani. An important rendezvous connected to the world of cinema is held in Taormina, but also in Lipari for the ceremony of the award Efesto D’oro, this event takes place in June. In conclusion, as a symbol of the integration in the Mediterranean, we can refer ourselves to the San Vito lo Capo (Trapani) Cous Cous Festival, where chefs coming from all over the Mediterranean compete to chose the best cous cous of the year.