A Taste of Trapanese History

Entrance to the Pepoli Museum (facing out towards the gardens of the Santuary of the Madonna of Trapani)

In my teens, while visiting relatives in Rome, I was given a choice of spending a day visiting the Vatican etc or going to the beach. I chose beach! I guess, as a younger man, I always preferred sun and sand to old relics though I now like art galleries and museums more than beaches. Or as my daughters might say “You like old relics because you are one!”

In spite of having spent many weeks or months in Sicily over the past 10 years I had never visited a museum on the island. Last week, while returning from a photo project, I passed through the gardens adjacent to the Agostino Pepoli Regional Museum, took a few pictures and decided that I should return.

Considering the history of the region I am surprised that there aren’t more museums in Trapani. I suppose it’s because the majority of tourists come here for the sun, sea and sand as I would have done years ago.

The Pepoli museum covers a wide range of aspects of Trapani’s history and I was happy to see a group of young school children with their teachers apparently conducting a history lesson there.

View from the gate of the museum, separating from the Sanctuary gardens, towards the entrance to the museum.

The entrance to the Museum is behind the Santuary of the Madonna of Trapani, one of the principal churches in the town, and is reached by passing through the gardens that seem to attract a daily quota of both pensioners that enjoy the coolness and tranquility of the setting and young children, whose laughter as they play under the watchful eye of their mothers in the shade of the trees, echos off the front of the Sanctuary.

The Sanctuary viewed from within the gardens

A gate separates the museum from the gardens, with a pair of white stone column heads positioned as if to welcome visitors. A wide path leads between an area littered with ancient masonry and a large anchor on one side, and a bust of Sr Agostino Pepoli on the other.

One of a pair of white stone column heads outside the museum gate

Once inside the shaded entrance of the Museum one can see the cloisters that borders the museum garden.

Cloisters with garden

I paid €6.00 to enter the museum and was given a brochure in English. I believe they offer French and German versions too (in addition to Italian, of course).

Brochure and entrance ticket

Museum staff are on hand as one enters the building and throughout the museum in various rooms to ensure you follow the appropriate flow of the exhibition areas. Anyone with questions or seeking clarification on any aspect can of course approach the staff who are happy to provide the benefit of their knowledge.

One of the first exhibition areas in the museum is that of religious artefacts

Ceramic tiles depicting the town of Trapani

Garden with the bell tower of the Sanctuary above and behind the museum walls

A number of stone decorations on loose display under the cloisters

View of the cloisters and shaded part of the garden

What to see

Paintings of historical figures linked to Trapani

Paintings and sculptures of religious subjects

Example of clothes and jewellery of the Baroque era

Painted wall and floor tiles

Roman and Greek pottery, metal and glassware dating back over 2,500 years

Fascinating finely detailed carvings and dioramas of historic scenes eg views of life, of nativity, and horrific images of the Massacre of the Innocents.

How to get there

via Conte Agostino Pepoli, 180

By bus, taxi or car, but there is only street parking


weekdays 9 am – 1 pm and 3 pm – 7.30 pm Sundays and holidays from 9 am to 12.30 pm


weekdays: Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to 5.30pm

Sunday and public holidays: from 9.00 to 12.30

This is a great place to see so much history in one place. A visit to this museum is highly recommended.



A pair of mounted Gauchos leading a horse

The Pampas of Argentina and the grassy granges extending into Uruguay, the southern states of  Brazil (principally Rio Grande do Sul, but also Santa Catarina and Parana) and Paraguay are home to the fabled “Gaúchos”.

Gaúchos were skilled nomadic horsemen, or cowboys, that roamed the grasslands in the process of raising cattle and horses. While there are still some that work as cowboys they tend to do so now on cattle farms, though the term “Gaúcho” still applies to the people of the region.

Having visited a couple of cattle ranches in Argentina I took a few photographs that I have now used to to make a collection of monochrome prints that will go on sale at the end of this year as limited edition prints. A small selection is replicated below.


Gaucho on horseback



Gaúcho boot in stirrup


Gaúcho boots



Gaúchos leading a group of horses


For further information on any of the above or related images (24 images in the whole collection) please send me an email.


Pencil and Paper

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Pencil and Paper was the name of a TV program many years ago. I vaguely remember it but my parents enjoyed the program.

I love technology … I find it fascinating how we can do so much stuff on smart-phones, tablets and computers, and I have been known to occasionally dabble in writing code. The first time I did this was when playing with a Sinclair Spectrum many, many years ago. More recently I have written some html code. I consider it a form of art.

Occasionally I try to work in a paperless environment but, after a short time, I find myself yearning for the touch of pencil or pen on paper. There is so much satisfaction in feeling ideas and thoughts being transformed to words or designs.

Part of the satisfaction of writing notes and articles longhand is that the mind works while the words take shape on paper. One word follows the next, triggered by an initial thought. Adjustments are made and, at least for me, the shape of a word on paper may define the direction of the words that follow. I may have decided what I was going to write, but then the flow takes control and I discover I have made a better story by letting the ink take control.

I suspect it’s a bit like a sculptor finding what shape lies within a lump of rock. The first chisel mark guides the next until suddenly “The Thinker” sits before Rodin! The rock held the statue until it was released.

It’s the same, for me, with sketching as well as writing. I have a concept in mind, the pencil or pen touches the paper and the combination of the orginal idea with the texture of the paper and the graphite or ink lead to an artwork (if my art is worthy enough to be given that moniker).

Long live pencil and paper.




Instagram and stuff!


The great thing about iPhones (and other smart phones) is the convenience of using the built-in camera when a large camera can’t be carried.

I specifically bought a Nokia N8 a few years ago because of the quality of the phone’s camera. A pity that Nokia made such a strategic error, but nice to see them coming back. My Nokia still works as a camera but the phone doesn’t want to recognise simm cards anymore. In recent years I have made a big, though easy, commitment to iPhone photography. The iPhone camera is of good quality and access to apps, including Instagram, has made image capture and processing so easy.

My iPhone has a suite of Abode apps that I use in addition to the Lightroom and Photoshop programs on my Mac. I also use Snapseed, Photogene, Camerabag and Instagram. The main point of using any of these apps is to quickly adjust an image or to add artistic features before publishing to Instagram, Pinterest or Behance, or placing on sale with Alamy’s Stockimo.

Depending on the type of image I may make only minor adjustments or I may apply multiple effects to obtain the image I want. Instagram viewers like to see consistency of style. Stockimo seems to accept generally more funky images. I upload what I like but try to work in a consistent way at least for a period – can’t be too static, tastes change!


Fontana delle Tette

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Image: 1989 version of the Fontana delle Tette


In the centre of Treviso (Veneto, Italy) are two versions of a statue known as the Fontana delle Tette (literally translates to the Fountain of the Tits). The original was carved in 1559 by order of the mayor of the Republic of Venice. Wine flowed through the statue with red wine coming out of one breast and white wine from the other. The locals were permitted to drink the wine during a three day period whenever a new mayor was elected.

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 Image: The original 1559 version of the Fontana delle Tette


The original statue is damaged but can be seen under the shelter of the “Palazzo dei Trecento” in Piazza dei Signori. A new statue, with water pouring from the breasts, now sits is a small alley off via Calmaggiore near the Piazza.

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Image: Marble plaque describing the Fontana dele Tette