Summertime can be dry and hot in Sicily – a time to enjoy the bounty of beaches that ring its coastline, to relish the cooling ocean breezes, and to lounge by the warm, crystalline Mediterranean Sea. It’s also a time for festivals and feasts that celebrate the multicultural soul and abundant natural beauty of this remarkable island, home to the incomparably stylish brand, Ortigia Sicilia.
“I do not envy God’s paradise because I am so satisfied to live in Sicily.” Federico II, (1194-1250 A.D.,) Holy Roman Emperor and King of Sicily
History and Culture
The largest of Italy’s islands, and the largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily boasts an uncommonly varied landscape, with miles of coastline and breathtaking mountains including Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest active volcano. Rich with olive groves, citrus trees, and vineyards, the island is also known for the extraordinary variety of plant species that flourish here – at least 3,000 species ranging from the subtropical to varieties more common in Northern Europe.
People have lived on this island since at least 12,000 BC – tribal people from southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula, Phoenicians, Romans, Greeks, Athenians, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Carthaginians, Byzantines, Catalans, Arabs, Normans, Germans, Spanish, Angevins, Bourbons, and Austrians all occupied and influenced the culture and character of the island before it became an autonomous region of Italy in 1946. Its capital, Palermo, has the distinction of being the most conquered city in the world – desired for millennia because of its strategic position in the Mediterranean and proximity to North Africa.
Sicily’s rich history and varied geography have infused the island with a diversity of cultures that are evident in its ancient architecture, colorful artistic heritage – and its cuisine. The culture of Sicily comes to life in its food, whether traditional street food or Michelin-starred fine dining reflecting influences from Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. A destination for foodies from around the world – eager to begin their day with a fresh brioche and a frozen granita – Sicily is frequently regarded as one of the culinary hearts of Italy, where simplicity and reliance on fresh, local ingredients produce surprising and complex flavors.
Summertime in Sicily is a season of beloved traditions including the Feast of Santa Rosalia, U Fistinu, in Palermo in mid-July. The feast – described as a mix of faith, tradition, and folklore – celebrates the saint whose spirit and discovered remains are believed to have helped defeat the plague in the 17th century, hundreds of years after her death. Her statue is borne through town on a spectacularly decorated chariot, leading a procession accompanied by dancing, singing, cheers, light shows, fireworks, and showers of rose petals.
“Sicily is a dazzling destination with a fascinating and arguably incomparable past, thanks to its centuries-long perch at the crossroads of history before becoming part of Italy in 1860.” Travel writer Alexandra Kirkman, in Forbes
Home to Ortigia Sicilia
Though Sicily itself is an island, it encompasses a number of smaller islands. Off Sicily’s southeastern coast is the romantic island of Ortigia, tiny in size and enormous for its place in history. Famed for its beauty, with a vibrant culture and history all its own, Ortigia is the site of ancient Syracuse, once considered the greatest and most beautiful Greek city. Today, Ortigia is widely regarded as one of the loveliest locales in all of Italy and a popular weekend destination for travelers. UNESCO has named it a landmark for its “remarkable testimony of the Mediterranean cultures over the centuries.”
Drawing from the island’s extraordinary history and landscape, Sue Townsend founded Ortigia Sicilia
in 2006 to blend tradition and classic design with modern ethics and integrity. This small company, like its island namesake, has had a big impact on the Italian beauty market. Ortigia Sicilia offers a luxurious range of soaps, scents, creams, candles, and lotions inspired by the aesthetics, colors and scents of Italy’s most historic and tropical region. Ortigia’s perfumes are distilled from Sicilian flowers by master perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi
, and all the company’s products are cruelty-free and formulated from natural, local ingredients by small, family producers. Ortigia’s design – by Townsend herself – is truly exceptional, drawing on exotic Sicilian imagery and colors.
To enjoy a taste of beauty, Sicilian-style, we recommend a few of our favorite Ortigia Sicilia products – each one a work of art.
- For the essence of elegant summer style, slip these orange-blossom scented drawer sachets into drawers and cupboards at home, or in your car and luggage when traveling for a refreshing lift. The incomparable fragrance of orange blossoms is complemented with neroli petitgrain and wood bases.
- The delicate bath salts are made from 100% Sicilian sea salts, and are a modern revival of an ancient tradition. Just a handful of Florio salts dissolve in the bath, making the water incredibly soft and infused with the delicate medley of spring flowers. Ideal for soothing tender skin and tired limbs.
- Perfume your summer nights outdoors with one of Ortigia’s signature art-glass candles. This Melograno Decorated Candle is inspired by the exotic pomegranate fruit was the personal symbol of Romans Maximilian I and Catherine of Aragon, both rulers of Sicily. The scent is very rich, dry, powdery, and slightly bitter.
Short of hopping on a plane, there’s no better way we know to indulge our summer dreams of the Italian islands than to drink in the spice-and-citrus Sicilian fragrances that are the hallmark of Ortigia Sicilia.