The 2013 Winter Visit to Catania, Sicilia
If there’s one thing I know fashion lovers absolutely adore, as well as everyone else, it’s the opportunity to travel. So I am going to deviate from my usual fashion writing to share with you some memorable moments from my recent trip to Sicily. Needless to say, my four days in Sicily was not completely void of fashion and fabulousness – how can it be when in Italy?
My partner and I went back to Sicily last week to celebrate his birthday with his family and friends – frequent readers of Charms of a Dandizette will know that my partner is Sicilian and I have been travelling to and from Catania, Sicily for the past eight years. No matter where in the world I travel, no matter how inspired and rejuvenated I feel on my escape and on my return, there is something very special about the way I feel when I am in and have returned from the wonderful island that is Sicily. Admittedly my affection for Sicily may well be because of my emotional ties with the island and the great family and friends I have gained through my partner, but no matter how many times I return to Sicily, it never fails to fascinate me.
We flew to Sicily the morning that the Dolce and Gabbana New Bond Street Menswear store had their Sicilian Christmas table installed on the shop floor. My partner, being Sicilian and working for Dolce and Gabbana, as you can imagine, was extremely excited about all the typical Sicilian sweet treats featured on the table – it was indeed the perfect little send off for our Sicilian pursuit. On our arrival we unpacked the Christmas gifts we had bought for his family and instead of wrapping in nondescript wrapping paper, we placed the presents in Dolce and Gabbana paper bags – which his family absolutely adored – not because they are Dolce and Gabbana, but because these bags are pieces of art work in themselves (I myself have started my own little collection). These bags feature elements of typical Sicilian culture and folklore, some of which you will recognise from the collections, such as the Sicilian puppets, the Sicilian ceramics, the Moorish head and the Sicilian cart. For admirers of Dolce and Gabbana these bags are a perfect representation of the collection, however for my partner and his family, these bags are a small token of Sicilian heritage.
Once we had embellished the Christmas tree with our Dolce and Gabbana bags we sat down to eat. Needless to say we ate and drank extremely well, in fact we did so for five hours! With course after course of Bruschetta, Artichokes and grilled courgettes and aubergine, a fennel, orange and pomegranate pallet cleansing salad followed by swordfish and pistachio involtini, savoury pastries filled with ricotta and sundried tomato pesto and so on so forth, all washed down with Nero D’avola and followed by a selection of Limoncello and cream liquers and Prossecco. Yum!
Aside from drinking, eating and socialising, there was also some shopping and an acquaintance with my partner’s cousin Chicco – an acquaintance I have been particularly keen to make the eight years I have been with my partner. Chicco is one of the owners of Papini, the Eastern region of Sicily’s go to fashion department store for the luxury shopper. In Catania there are two Papini stores, both located on Corsa Italia, the ultimate fashion and luxury shopping strip – think Sloane or Bond Street. One store is dedicated to Men’s and Womenswear and the other dedicates itself entirely to shoes, handbags and accessories. The third Papini store is located on the small island of Ortigia, the historical centre of Siracusa, Sicily, the very same location of Giuseppe Tornatore’s 2007 film Malena, starring Monica Belluci. My partner tells me Chicco has a particular talent for picking up on designers and trends before they have blown up. Among many other operations for Papini, Chicco does the buying for the business, he attends fashion week, he circulates in the industry and builds and maintains relationships with the suppliers.
Although having been to Papini many a times, this time I meet Chicco. He asks me what’s hot in London right now. We talk about the Celine Phantom bag and the just as coveted sling back Valentino stiletto, all of which is stocked at Papini. I admire the array of Givenchy printed sweatshirts, the myriad of leather and fur from Gucci, hand woven classic Bottega Veneta bags and the Saint Laurent punk boots. And after deliberating between the Alexander Wang Rocco bag and the Givenchy Nightingale bag for my own purchase, I leave with the Rocco bag. As if I could avoid all of that gleaming gold hardware.
Please enjoy my Sicilian break in pictures…
Be charmed, stay inspired! x