• Azienda agricola: a business producing an agricultural commodity
  • Frantoio: an olive oil production facility
  • Baglio: an Arab-style farmhouse built around a central courtyard

Azienda Fontanasalsa is accurately described as each of these. Built around a beautifully, if unevenly, paved courtyard under the shade of a 200 year-old vine, surrounded by a land harboring untold riches of history, legends and ancient remains, it also offers hospitality in the form of a full-board inn and plenty of gracious space for work and contemplation. Fontanasalsa provided the perfect combination of retreat and inspiration for our poetic endeavours.

The Dottoressa

Maria Caterina Burgarella, who opened her ancestral baglio and olive farm to us: “I miei ospiti sono i miei amici.” (“My guests are my friends.”)

“Ad Musam”
Umbram tam gelidam da, Marica Musa, poetis
Ut fervor nobis non rumpat splendidus artus
Scribendi, ut rapido saltantes carmina versu
Dulcia pangamus, terrentibus absque lacunis.

“For Marica”
Marica, Muse of this abundant place
Grant us this week your hospitable shade,
So that our verse can be composed with grace,
Not overheated by the effort made.
We danced at night; our poems dance by day
Avoiding fearful gaps: or so we say.

Musa Marica chiediam umilmente
di stare un po’ protetti sotto l’ombra
del dolce baglio tuo, ché ’l sol fervente
le membra dei poeti non ingombra
mentre che sopra a noi danza la vigna
degli avi tuoi; così nella penombra
la musa possa a noi spirar benigna
per te, ballando in cerchio, antichi metri
senza lacuna, che ride maligna!

Latin composed by David Money ex tempore in class (with the assistance of the group); English version by David Money; Italian translation by Kristen Hook. N.B. She is addressed formally as “dottoressa,” but her friends know her as “Marica.”


Colette Rombouts held us all in thrall as she ran the daily operations of the inn.

“Ad Colettam”
O laudanda, boni fundi regis omnia recte
Et nos et suaves, cara Coletta, canes.

“For Colette”
Colette, you are the best,
You manage without fuss;
You can control it all,
Your lovely dogs, and us.

Noi ti lodiamo, del baglio e di tutto corretta rettrice,
di noi e di tuoi, cara Colette, dolci cani.

Latin and English composed (at Erice) by David Money; Italian translation by Alessandro Pagliara.

The Team

  • The chefs, Daniele and Totò (not pictured) who provided multi-course lunches and dinners: an unbroken stream of Sicilian delicacies with no repeats
  • The early morning staff: Dora and Alessio who kept the coffee flowing, the pastries fresh and the place tidy
  • Colette’s assistant, Anna, who smoothed every wrinkle, unperturbed
  • Peerless waiter, Domenico, who attended to our every need
  • Irene, singer and instrumentalist, who brought the art of the Sicilian canzone to dinner on a couple of occasions
  • Michelangelo and his drivers, who shepherded us all over the countryside.

The Dogs

  • Bianca
  • Nocciolina
  • Regina
  • Fritz
  • Michael
  • Maverick il trovatello, (the foundling)



We had planned our public reading and gala dinner on the last evening for the garden on the side of the house, but a wind blew up that was grounding flights at Palermo and Trapani. We moved into the shelter of the courtyard for the reading, and cleared out every trace of our classroom from the sala grande (great hall) for the dinner. We offered poetry and dedications, the management had music, feasting and a fascinating cassata demonstration in store for us.