This is the first time we have addressed three epochs in one conference – the classical world of Magna Graecia when Sicily served as a principal Greek colony; the Arabic period when Palermo became the jewel of the Islamic world; and the Medieval era after the coming of the Normans when its multi-cultural kingdom welcomed Catholic and Byzantine Christians, Muslims, and Jews, and its tolerant spirit lit a beacon for the 12th century.

We have been amazed at how one of the English speaking world’s leading writers on Muslim Sicily has joined the Quest faculty; how new research on the Norman King Roger II and his grandson the Emperor Frederick II has become available to us; and, of course, how fortunate we are to have such knowledgeable speakers on Pythagoras, Plato, Empedocles and Parmenides. We will also be joined by Mary Taylor Simeti, the author of the classic book On Persephone’s Island, a vivid description of a foreigner’s encounter with and embrace of Sicily, who will reveal how antiquity has left its traces in Sicilian culture from the festivals to the cuisine! Paul Fenton from the Sorbonne will even bring alive the practitioners of Kabbalah for whom Sicily was home.

This Esoteric Quest is going to be a very rich and unprecedented experience. It has emerged as one of the most colorful and expansive Quests, and it’s been a pleasure to speak to Sicilians and experience their own interest and delight in eras rarely addressed in depth by visitors to their island.

The location of the conference is the serene, beautiful and atmospheric Isle of Ortigia, site of ancient Siracusa; home to Archimedes, sacred fountains and temples of antiquity; birthplace of Ibn Hamdi, Sicily’s most famous Muslim poet; and site of one of Frederick II’s many castles. Each day we will meet in a small conference center in the foreground of the Maniace Castle, the blue waters of the Mediterranean below and around us, and the delightful lanes of Ortigia with their cafes, restaurants and monuments within easy access during breaks.

We hope you can join us!