Sicily on the Southbank (Photo M. Germana)

Sicily is where I’m from and frequently go back to.

Not as often as I would like to, unfortunately. Which is why, on my way to the Lord Mayor’s Fireworks display on Saturday night, I was delighted to stumble across this stunning exhibition of images from my homeland.

The exhibition, organised by the Regione Sicilia and curated by Genius Loci (Sandro Battistessa), will be accessible on the riverside walkway between the National Theatre and the Oxo Tower until 20 November: don’t miss it, even if you’re not planning to visit Sicily anytime soon.

You will be booking your flights on your I-Phone on your way to the theatre!

Walter Leonardi’s 46 shots will remind those of you who have visited Sicily of its ancient heritage: Siracusa, my hometown, was founded around 734 BC!

More than anything else, the images showcase the diversity of Sicilian landscape, frequently associated with the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, but rarely thought of as a highly active geological area, domineered, in the eastern part of the island, by Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.

Walter Leonardi, 'Etna' (Photo M. Germana)

The photographs also evoke lesser known aspects of Sicilian culture, beyond the cliches that we are all too familiar with. It’s a poetic, if perhaps a little nostalgic, reading of Sicily, but authentically drawing from some of its ancient traditions, from the saline (salt plants) to fishing and agriculture. That Sicilian economy and culture is still strongly attached to old-fashioned traditions is, perhaps, detrimental to its inclusion in the markets led by global interests. But it is precisely that raw simplicity, adjacent to some of the most exquisite architectural heritage that makes Sicily unique.

So, don’t waste any time, fly to Sicily… on your oyster card!

Arance di Sicilia by the Thames (Photo M. Germana)