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Allison Scola: News

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EXPERIENCE SICILY: Read my musings about Sicily and learn about my
boutique, small-group tours and creative travel planning. 

YOUTUBE: Watch videos of performances and see my favorites.

Like a Lion - March 13, 2017

I came home from a trip in Sicily from February 25 to March 8 thinking that I'd encounter spring weather, but boy, was I mistaken. Winter continues to growl at us here in New York City. That just gives me more reason to warm your hearts with some events this month! 

I hit the ground running with appearing on Saturday, March 11 at the Skylands Songwriters Symposium. Joltin' Joe Pszonek from Radio Nowhere and NEWT Radio invited me to talk about "being heard." I've been on the other side of the table so many times, it felt great to impart some of my years of experience with emerging songwriters. 

Then, yesterday, March 12, I hosted a decorative bread making workshop for St. Joseph's Day... getting ready for the big feast next weekend. Read on! 


On March 18, I'm thrilled that Villa Palagonia is part of A World of Women's Voices. We'll be appearing alongside Bev Grant and Sharon Goldman telling universal stories for Women's History Month. Our collaborations will get you moving. I hope you'll come out to Teaneck, NJ to the Puffin Cultural Forum for some rhythms and stories. 


Then, never a dull moment... on Sunday, March 19, we'll be at Cacio e Vino hosting a feast for San Giuseppe, AKA St. Joseph's Day! I love this holiday of thanksgiving and giving. There's a lot of food, and it will be sure to be a lot of fun socializing and enjoying each other's company. I hope you'll come for a fantastic afternoon of Sicilian cultural heritage! 

All the details are on the SHOWS page. I look forward to seeing you! 

Falcon Pack Podcast Interview - January 2, 2017

I was recently interviewed for the Falcon Pack Podcast about art, creativity, and living life as an artist. Listen at:


Coming up on January 16, 2017 Villa Palagonia will be on City World Radio at 7PM EST. Tune in online at: then click on Listen Live

We'll be talking and playing some songs live on the air. 

Time to Make Music - October 22, 2016

I've been working too much. Sitting for hours at my computer. Now it's time to get out off the office, to get to the music studio, to get into the crowd, and to share love. Won't you join me?

We've got two fantastic performances coming up that I hope you'll join us (Villa Palagonia) for...

October 29 in New Haven, CT--a house concert to which you are invited (you just have to RSVP for the details)

November 2 in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall

I really look forward to seeing you! 

Breezy - July 14, 2016

I hope you are having a breezy summer!

We are thrilled to be heading out to Woodstock, IL to perform as part of the Woodstock Folk Festival. 

Rhythms & Roots is slowing making its way through internet channels, and we look forward to hearing your feedback and your voice as you sing along with us.

In support of our friend Honor Finnegan, Villa Palagonia will be performing at a special concert celebration honoring the storm and survival. Come to the show on July 28 to learn more.


Featuring Honor Finnegan with friends ....
Sharon Goldman, Scott Wolfson, Addie Brownlee, Karen Dahlstrom, Villa Palagonia, Marci Geller, Bev Grant, and Karyn Oliver 
Performing songs by ...
Paul Simon
Patti Griffin
Bob Dylan
Joni Mitcheel
Jim Morrison 
and more ... 

It features Honor Finnegan with friends Sharon Goldman, Scott Wolfson, Addie Brownlee, Karen Dahlstrom, Villa Palagonia, Marci Geller, Bev Grant, and Karyn Oliver performing songs by ...Paul Simon, Patti Griffin, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jim Morrison and more.

Otherwise, Sicily is on the horizon when I host and lead two fantastic tours! At this time there are still a handful of spots left:

Stirring Sicily cooking experience, from 15 Sept. to 22 Sept.

Savoring Sicily boutique, small group tour, from 22 Sept. to 4 October. Ask me about the "insider rate" for a deep discount on the posted price. 

More details may be found on


Sending you breezes... 

Become part of Rhythms & Roots! - March 22, 2016

Villa Palagonia's debut album, Rhythms & Roots, is recorded and packaged and ready for you! However, we hope that you’ll not only buy the album, but also join our Pledge Music “Become Part of Rhythms & Roots” campaign.

Your participation–your pledge and contribution to our campaign–will enable us to hire music industry professionals who have the connections and the knowledge that will help us position Villa Palagonia and promote the joys of Rhythms & Roots.


Please Join us! Your participation will help us…

  • Obtain radio play for songs on Rhythms & Roots
  • Schedule Villa Palagonia into performance venues and at festivals around the country
  • Garner media coverage about Rhythms & Roots and Villa Palagonia


Watch our video and learn more at 

Become part of the music! 


It's a Party, and You're Invited! - March 6, 2016

We're having a party, and you are invited! 

Please join us to celebrate the release of the debut album of Villa Palagonia, "Rhythms & Roots!"

Villa Palagonia: Rhythms & Roots Album Release Party
Sunday, March 13 
6 PM Villa Palagonia takes the stage
First Unitarian Church | 116 Pierrepont St. at Monroe Pl.
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201
(718) 288-5994 |
Price: $10
Parking Garage on Clinton Street. 
Brooklyn Heights is very well served by the New York City subway system. The 2, 3, 4, 5, N and R trains all stop at COURT STREET/BOROUGH HALL. From Court Street/Borough Hall, walk north on Cadman Plaza West one or two blocks. Turn left on Pierrepont Street. Walk west two blocks to Monroe Place and you are there!

Villa Palagonia: Rhythms & Roots Album Release Party
Sunday, March 13 
6 PM Villa Palagonia takes the stage
First Acoustics |
First Unitarian Church | 116 Pierrepont St. at Monroe Pl.
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201

Reservations: (718) 288-5994 |
Price: $10


Rhythms & Roots | Villa Palagonia


This exciting release party for the new Villa Palagonia CD, is part of the First Acoustics Second Sunday Supper and Song Series. On the Second Sunday of every month, First Acoustics hosts an Open Mic, with a supper that can be enjoyed with a free-will donation. For all of you musicians who are looking for a place to try out new material, or celebrate your craft among friends, this is the place for you.

$10 gets you in the door, and you can pay what you wish for the vegetarian/vegan-friendly supper that we offer.

The evening's events start at 4:30 PM with a sign-up for an Open Mic that will take place from 5PM - 5:55 PM. 

A light, vegetarian supper will be available for a free-will donation. 

At 6:00 PM Villa Palagonia takes the stage!


Full Band, including...

Allison Scola, Vocals, guitar, clarinet, Italian frame drums

Joe Ravo, Guitar

David Mancuso, Percussion

Greg Maker, Bass

And special guests! 


Parking Garage on Clinton Street. 

Brooklyn Heights is very well served by the New York City subway system. The 2, 3, 4, 5, N and R trains all stop at COURT STREET/BOROUGH HALL. From Court Street/Borough Hall, walk north on Cadman Plaza West one or two blocks. Turn left on Pierrepont Street. Walk west two blocks to Monroe Place and you are there!

The Countdown is On - January 31, 2016

February marks the start of our campaign to release Rhythms & Roots. After a year of recording, mixing, mastering, designing, and planning, Villa Palagonia is very excited to release our debut album out into the world. Keep your eyes on this page to learn the details of how you can get your hands on a copy.


You too will soon be feeling the rhythms! 

I Can Feel the Rhythm! - November 29, 2015

"Rhythms & Roots" Villa Palagonia's debut album is done! Now, we're working on releasing it. Stand by for details in the days ahead. 

In the meantime, please join us for a special afternoon of feasting and music for the Feast of Santa Lucia at Eolo Seasonal Sicilian Kitchen in New York City. We will be playing a short concert and I'll be presenting a discussion about Santa Lucia, or Saint Lucy, the patron saint of eyes, sight, light, and wheat. 

The Joys of Summer - September 12, 2015

You know me, I love summer. I love it so much, that this year, I'm extending it into October with a tour of Sicily. From September 24 to October 8, I'll be leading a small-group on a gastronomic and cultural adventure--with of course some music mixed in (It's a must when you travel with me!). Follow our journey at and on Facebook (My personal page or Experience Sicily), Instagram (@experiencesicily), Twitter (@allisonscola), and Tumblr ( Also on, you can see the tours I'll be leading to the Mediterranean island in 2016. One is focused on music and revelry... you might like that one!  

Although I haven't sent too much email to you, good stuff has been happening that I want to share! 

In early July, Joe Ravo and I were in Sicily were we spent some time with my cousins and visited Villa Palagonia, our namesake estate in Bagheria. My cousin Filippo Buttitta, a talented photographer, took photos of us. We had so much fun! Here's a shot of us in the garden:


In late July/early August, Joe and I went to Falcon Ridge Folk Festival where we hung with good friends and enjoyed great music for the weekend. It was really hard to leave after a beautiful few days in the countryside with kindred spirits. We played a few pop-up performances, and one of them was filmed. Thanks to World One Video! Check it out here:

We had a great time performing at The Budgiedome. Thank you Gordon Nash for inviting us! 

In mid-August, we were featured once again on City World Radio with AC Lowe. AC Lowe, aka Anthony LoFaso, traveled with me to Sicily in June. It was for me, a wonderful experience to visit Anthony's ancestral town, where he found kindred spirits who spoke his familiar Sicilian language. (Tears flowed!) Much of our appearance on the show (in addition to performing some songs live) was spent talking about our time together in Sicily. Check out the archive at: 

Allison Scola & Joe Ravo | Villa Palagonia | on City World Radio | AC Lowe Show, August 17, 2015

Villa Palagonia on the AC Lowe Show on City World Radio (Photo Credit: Bill Russo)

On August 24, I was so excited to be featured by the National Organization of Italian American Women in their Member Spotlight. You can read the article on their blog at NOIAW Member Spotlight

NOIAW Member Spotlight: Allison Scola

And now, I'm gearing up for more wonder and magic coming this fall. I feel so blessed to have so many terrific things happening. I hope you'll join me for the journey both in Sicily and here at home in New York City. 

We'll be live on the internet via on September 13 at 8PM, then at the Italian Feast in Tappan, NY and the Feast of San Gennaro in NYC on September 20, and live at Caffè Vivaldi at 8:30PM on Tuesday, October 20. Please join us as we prepare to release our debut Villa Palagonia album, Rhythms & Roots! We've been working on it for many months... and we look forward to releasing it to you!

June Radio & More - June 20, 2015

June 2015 has been busy and continues to be! 

On June 8, I was on the AC Lowe Show on City World Radio! Along with an interview, Joe Ravo and I as Villa Palagonia performed two songs live. You can listen to the archive of the show at:

City World Radio

In addition to getting ready for a trip to Sicily, Villa Palagonia has been performing whenever possible this month! We were in New York City's Inwood neighborhood for the Uptown Arts Stroll on June 6, on June 14, we performed at the Positively 8th Street Festival in Greenwich Village, and on Sunday, June 21, we're performing as part of Make Music New York at Pera SoHo. Additionally, I'm bringing Italian folk dance to the World of Colors Celebration in Danbury, CT today.

Meanwhile, we're working hard to get Rhythms & Roots done so we can have a few samples to bring to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival at the end of July. Come to Hillsdale, NY for a family-friendly, fun-loving music festival. We're looking forward to it.

It's summer tomorrow! Let's celebrate!!

The Next Level - May 16, 2015

I am very excited to have received the latest issue of Rochester Review magazine, the magazine of my Alma Mater, University of Rochester. The cover story, "The Next Level," covers the progress the university has made over the past 10 years across many fields: data science, neuroscience and neuromedicine, humanities and the performing arts, and the revitalization of the greater Rochester community. All making it "among the leading research universities in this country." 

It's pretty big stuff! It certainly makes me proud--especially because I'm a proud alumna, and I donate regularly whatever amount I can in order to support current students who are seeking to reach "The Next Level" themselves. 

I'm also proud because in this same issue, I've been featured talking about my work with Villa Palagonia and my tourism business Experience Sicily. There's something to this, "The Next Level" stuff. I too have been working diligently for the past 10 years--making music professionally, steeping  myself in a brew of tarantella and southern Italian folk music, practicing marketing and communications (an ever changing field) to support myself, learning to speak Italian fluently, soaking up everything I can about Sicily, and traveling to Italy at every opportunity. I've been laying a strong foundation for my "next level," and now, I'm taking it there! It's been my dream to combine all of these loves and skills together in order to "live the life [I've] imagined" (to quote Thoreau). 

University of Rochester's motto is "Meliora," which in Latin means, "Ever Better." I have to say, I live my life by this motto. While savoring each moment and counting every blessing, I seek to bring more love and more radiance to the world around me. To make it a better place. And that means doing it through Villa Palagonia and Experience Sicily. 

Over the past two years I've focused on dramatically changing my course towards this "next level." Because I couldn't bear to not be on the path that I'm meant to follow. I'm trusting my gut, as hard as that is at times, and I'm grateful for the support I'm getting from family and friends and fans. 

So, one step at a time. Right and then left, and then right again. The results are starting to show themselves. It feels good. 

Read the article at

I'm So Fortunate - April 11, 2015

On Thursday, I returned from spending a week Sicily, and every time I go through customs after such a visit, I never quite know how to respond when the officer says, "Welcome home." Truly, I am American, and very proud to be so, but at the same time, my heart is open and huge when I am in Sicily, and this makes it feel like my home too. I am so fortune to have this sensation--one where I know I have a home to come back to in New York City with supportive loved ones and friends and another in Sicily that doesn't consist of a physical building, but does consist of family and now friends who make me feel so loved and scenery and culture that makes me feel so alive. That feeling is one of "home" too.

It's that feeling that I want to share with you, through the music and performances I make with Villa Palagonia and my blog posts and tours through Experience Sicily. It may seem like my two career paths--performance and tourism--are divergent. But really, they are both about creating experiences and inviting you along, so that you'll feel loved and alive too. Music opens your heart and tourism opens your soul in ways that make you feel truly alive. That's a sensation I want everyone to feel! 

Cooking with Gas - March 16, 2015

Things are moving swiftly into 2015! Villa Palagonia is putting the finishing touches on our album "Rhythms & Roots," and we are planning a release campaign for the spring. We're very excited to get it to you!

In the meantime, I'm planning two small-group, boutique tours of Sicily in 2015. One in June and one in September! Please visit Experience Sicily for the details. Join me! It's going to be fantastic!

This March Villa Palagonia will be performing on the Global Beats Stage at the Philadelphia Travel & Adventure Show. I hope you'll come to the show to hear the music, dance a tarantella, and say hello at Booth #624, our Experience Sicily booth!

Then, in April, we are going to be at a very special event co-produced by Majella Home Cooking! "Bedda Sicilia" is a celebration of Sicily's food, culture, and music! Tickets are limited, so make your reservation for this very special evening (Friday, April 17) right away. All the details are on the Shows page. 

There are wonderful things happening! I look forward to you being a part of the excitement! 

New Record: Rhythms & Roots - February 1, 2015


There's been a lot of activity behind the scenes here at Soul Window Productions... a new record is in the works, and I am very excited about how it's coming together. It's been many years since I've put out a recording, and this one is especially sweet because it's a project with my husband Joe Ravo, an incredibly talented guitarist. Joe keeps me honest--which means that this album of songs has a lot of pep and a spirit to it. Our duo, Villa Palagonia, is a different sound than my solo work, and I think that's a great thing!

If you haven't checked out our website or Facebook page, I hope you'll take a moment to do so, because there's a story in it, and it's one we're excited to share with you. 

Stay tuned for more details about "Rhythms & Roots" coming soon. 

Cleaning Out the Old and Bringing in the New - December 14, 2014

I've hit a stride. A quick one, it seems. I'm cleaning out old files, getting old "to dos" done, and next I'll be tackling the closets. All while preparing to go into the recording studio with Villa Palagonia. It's sort of like preparing for a new baby to arrive--but this baby is a new record! 

We've been writing new songs for this project too. There's still more to do to get everything ready, but it feels great to be taking these steps, both the cleaning-out and the recording!

So, lots in store for 2015. 

Work-Life Groove - October 17, 2014

2014 continues to be a year of change for me. I'm not sure where I am in this process, but I'm pressing on with faith in my heart that the new routes I am taking will continue to reveal magic and joy each day. Villa Palagonia, my duo with my husband, guitarist Joe Ravo, continues to be just that, and I hope that you will find it equally entertaining. Joe and I have written some fabulous songs (and are writing more!) and are determined to present an engaging show. We want to get you singing and dancing! 

We've just had a photo shoot with the very talented photographer John Saponara (John not only took the photo of me dancing and playing tamburello in the forest, but he also photographed the cover of the book Eat, Pray, Love!). Look for new photos of us soon. We are also embarking on recording our songs for a forthcoming CD. We are very excited to get it out to you!

I've recently returned from running my first tour in Sicily for my new business (my other business) Experience Sicily. It was an absolutely incredible experience. I had wonderful clients with me, and together we explored Sicily's divine feminine and sacred sites as well as encountered some inspirational musicians. It was a dream come true for me to meet percussionist and songwriter Alfio Antico at his home-away from home (he lives in Northern Italy now) in the tiny village of Carletini, Borgo Nocchiara. What a spirit he is! He feels the earth through every breath and every pulse on his drums' skins. It was out of this world to be in his presence after soaking up his recordings for many years. 

Then, incredible in a different, but just as enthralling way, we met Fratelli Mancuso. I met Lorenzo and Enzo Mancuso when they were here in New York in February 2014, but this time, to meet up with them in Sutera, their hometown (again, they live in Northern Italy, so this was just amazing!), in the heart of Sicily, it left me breathless. To hear them sing, 5-feet away from me brought me to tears! I've loved their records for more than a decade, so to have such a meeting with them... thinking of it weeks later, still leaves me with awe. I truly appreciate their beautiful spirits and extraordinary musicianship. Wow! I am not the same after that! 

So, now, back in New York City I have a different reality and a different view of the world. Meeting these artists along with the wonderful folk trio that we had a private concert with in Bagheria--members of Gruppo Folk Soluntum--was inspirational and then some! 

It's now time for me to apply all I've soaked up and bring it to you--both through music and through my Experience Sicily posts and tours. I am aiming to get into a happening work-life groove, and I hope you'll come along for the dance! 

Come to Sicily with Me! - July 14, 2014

I am so thrilled to announce this tour... 

** Experience Enchanting Sicily! September 19-28, 2014 **
Join me, Allison Scola, and my Sicilian cousin Filippo for a small group journey through Sicily! Trip highlights include an afternoon and evening at the International Cous Cous Fest: an annual food and music festival in San Vito Lo Capo, a tour of Europe’s largest active volcano: Mount Etna, a winery tour and tasting, a cooking class, visits to world-renowned historic sites in Agrigento, Siracusa, Trapani, and Palermo, and to charming towns such as Taormina, Noto, Erice, Monreale, and Cefalù, and much more. If you have been enjoying my daily posts about Sicily, you will love visiting the island with us at Experience Sicily! 

Trip cost is $3,900 for hotels, most meals, transportation by private van, excursions and tours. 

If you deposit by Tuesday, July 15, receive $400 off your trip cost. 

For more details and to join us, visit

67 Degrees Outside - May 17, 2014

My whole mood changes when the air is crisp and the sun is shining on my terrace. I am full of hope and excitement for what's ahead. I imagine that you might feel the same way. 

For the first time in many years, I have to admit, I didn't mind the long, cold winter. I'm turning this ocean liner of my life in a new direction, and these things take time and incubation. The winter months have enabled me turn inward for such reflection, and I am appreciative of that. I think this ship is almost pointing in the direction I want it to go; these last few weeks of spring will help me get there. 

At the beginning of May, I spent four glorious days in Michigan and Chicago with the Chicks with Dip. We presented our Joni Mitchell's Blue celebration concert at Michigan's The Ark in Ann Arbor and The Acorn Theater in Three Oaks, as well as on Chicago's WFMT Folk Stage (a live 2-hour broadcast!) and at The Old Town School for Folk Music. Wow! What supportive and fabulous audiences we had, and what a wonderful time we all had together making music for people who showed us so much love. I'll never forget those very special days and evenings spent doing what I love with people I love. Thank you everyone who heard us, and thank you Chicks and Roosters for an inspirational weekend! 

The Joni Mitchell's Blue tour has been a heartfelt and important project for me these past two and a half years. Before we embarked on it, I was seriously contemplating no longer performing music. I was tired and heartbroken about my career and ready to put my energy into something else. The Blue project and working with the Chicks gave me a new outlook on making music. Looking back over these two+ years and how I feel today after our mid-west trip, I'm so blessed that I had the opportunity to rediscover something that is part of my DNA. I would have wilted without music, and I have the Chicks and the audiences we've had to thank for saving this priceless part of my life. So, again, THANK YOU!

Now back in New York, Joe Ravo and I are scheming about what's next for Villa Palagonia. Have you seen our website? It's at We've got ideas and plans, and hope to start setting those in motion in the weeks and months ahead. That includes recording an album of songs... all in the initial stages. 

Tomorrow I'll be part of a celebration of spring's arrival at the Feast for the Senses at Bar Eolo (See Shows for more info.). Together with my music and life partner, Joe Ravo, we'll be presenting some traditional Sicilian folk songs as Villa Palagonia and then, along with my dance partner, Peter Di Geronimo, we'll be dancing some southern Italian tarantella for all to enjoy. Making music and dancing always wakes up my spirit and body, and I think after so much time thinking and processing this winter, I'm ready to celebrate all that life presents us! I hope you'll join us for this joyous occasion! 

We've got some fantastic opportunities coming up to hear Villa Palagonia and to get you singing with us, so, check out the Shows page for details! 

Saint Joseph's Day: Thanksgiving and Payers for Abundance - March 11, 2014

Next Wednesday, March 19 is St. Joseph's Day or La Festa di San Giuseppe. In Sicily this is a major holiday--especially in Bagheria where my family lives because San Giuseppe is the patron saint of the town. 

I'm fascinated by Sicilian traditions and feasts, so I wrote an article explaining its origins and the significance of the food and deserts. Here's a teaser and link to read more...


[La Festa di San Giuseppe – March 19]

by Allison Scola

At this time of year, New Yorkers are starting to see a lot of green in honor of Saint Patrick’s Day. Yet in Sicily and southern Italy during these last days of winter, Sicilians and Italians are wearing a lot of red in honor of La Festa di San Giuseppe, or Saint Joseph’s Day, a Christian holiday that is celebrated annually on March 19.

Saint Joseph was the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the guardian-father of Jesus Christ. A carpenter by trade, he is regarded as the protector of all men who earn their livings through laborious work. He is also the patron saint of fathers. (March 19 is also Father’s Day in Italy.) Legend is that in Sicily and southern Italy during the 10th century, a drought caused a severe famine. The faithful prayed to Saint Joseph to bring rain, and in return, they promised to hold a feast in his honor. Rain and recovery from hunger ... [read more]

Demeter and Transitions - January 5, 2014

I mark transitions with the change of seasons: spring equinox, summer solstice, autumn equinox, and winter solstice. The long nights and cold days of winter solstice tell me it's time to slow down and enjoy staying at home resting and incubating. Like the ancient people of Sicily, I follow Demeter's lead.


Demeter was the ancient goddess of the earth and harvest. When her daughter Kore, better-known as Persephone, annually goes to the underworld to be with her husband Hades, Demeter loses all lust for life and she lets winter take over. When Persephone returns to the earth's surface, Demeter brings everything back to life. We all know this is, of course, spring. All this is to say, after a very fruitful autumn season of wonderful concerts and tarantella workshops, I am now in an annual quiet phase of hibernation and transition.


I am making some big changes in my life with regards to my careers, and during this winter of 2013-14, I am using the time to regroup and refocus. I'll announce more information as I am ready, but important to note, is that guitarist Joe Ravo and I are quietly working on Villa Palagonia. We're crafting some new songs and ideas for this project, and we look forward to bringing it into the light during the springtime.


Until then, I wanted to share this beautiful video with you that my friend Bill Russo put together from footage he took using his smartphone back in October. It really captures the spirit of what was a wonderful day we had at the Marco Polo Festival, a marvelous event that the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council produces each year that brings China Town and Little Italy, two significant communities of lower Manhattan, together to celebrate their cultures.


I was thrilled to have received this fabulous preview of the event from the New York Daily News:

One performer sure to dazzle, Allison Scola, will dance the Italian tarantella. “She pulls kids up and teaches them some aspects,” said Elisa Espiritu, director of development for the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. “That should be really fun and educational as well.”

I think folks really enjoyed the workshop (see the video!), and thanks must go to Hong Tao Sun and Vin Sciala for helping me make it a success, and to Two Bridges Council for inviting me to participate!

And of course, thank you Bill Russo for recording and editing this footage! Enjoy!


Introducing Villa Palagonia - September 14, 2013

Villa Palagonia is a Baroque villa located in Bagheria, a town in Sicily, Italy near Palermo. The villa was built to be the country home of the fifth Prince of Palagonia, a baron under the realm of the King of Spain. In 1749, Ferdinando Gravina, the seventh Prince of Palagonia, commissioned over six hundred statues of monsters, fantastic characters, imaginary animals, knights, ladies, peasants, and musicians in order to decorate the outer walls and grounds of the estate. Goethe visited Villa Palagonia in 1787 and noted that it was remarkably unique, commenting that the statues were a menagerie of egos.

Today, only 72 of the peculiar statues remain. Each one seems to hold its own story or represents a caricature of someone we each may know.

As musicians, what fascinates me and guitarist Joe Ravo are, of course, the statues of musicians—specifically the instruments they are playing and the combinations of them. Not only do the players represented possess a lute-like mandola/bouzouki, a chitarra battente, a flute, and a tambourine—instruments common in Western European folk music of the 17th century, but they also hold a double bass-like violone, an early clarinet, some kind of eastern-Mediterranean bowed lyre, Persian and Asian drums, and maraca-like shakers—further-afield and rhythmic instruments that tell us that there was more to the parties the Prince hosted in the villa’s Hall of Mirrors than our history books lead us to believe.  

My paternal grandmother, who immigrated to New York in the 1920s, grew up in the shadow of Villa Palagonia in Bagheria. It’s a place I’ve visited many times; a place that I find intriguing and inspirational. Bagheria is at the crossroads—between barons and peasants, between lemon orchards and fig orchards, between mountains and sea, between Europe and Africa, and between ancient mysteries and modern realities.   

Eclectic, acoustic pop brushed with hues of Mediterranean folk is the avenue on which our new band Villa Palagonia perches—yet the side streets and dusty alleyways that we travel offer engaging timbres that are woven together by songs imparting tales of the old world and the new.

Joe Ravo is a versatile guitarist who has performed alongside the likes of Dave Brubeck and Stanley Turrentine and traveled around the world as a cultural ambassador for the US Department of State. Greg Maker has appeared on multiple Broadway stages, composes music for the theater, and performs regularly in jazz clubs throughout New York City. Percussionist and drummer Dave Mancuso has been heard throughout the US in The Lion King, in the orchestra of Broadway’s Spamalot, and as a member of various New York ensembles.

I’ve performed at venues as grand as Shea Stadium and as intimate as my cousin Evelina’s patio in Bagheria—a place where North and South and East and West collide.

Experience Sicily - August 7, 2013

Taste pistachio gelato. Examine ancient mosaics. Swim in a secret spot by the sea. I recently returned from a 17 day trip to Sicily. I am so fortunate to have had this very special visit with my family there--who continue to prove just how incredible they are and how blessed I am to have them in my life!

Sicily holds a profound place in my heart, and while there in July, I kept a blog so I could share my experiences with you and inspire you to come with me to visit the ancient Island of the Sun.

This is only the beginning!

In invite you to Experience Sicily with me.

A Cause for Small Celebrations - June 1, 2013

It's June! Definitely cause for celebration. Even a small one.

I say small, because as I travel through life, it's clearer to me that the seemingly small successes are what bring us joy. You may remember a song I wrote with Janie Barnett years ago, called "More to Life." I made a simple recording of this with Charlie Greene that we released as a single in 2006 for, a pioneering MP3 store. Basically, "More to Life" documents the joys that one can get from seemingly common moments that are easy to miss in our every day shuffles. 

I've been pushing myself to focus on these elegant moments because lately, life has felt like just a series of shuffles. That needs to change.

Today when I woke up, I looked out onto my New York City apartment's terrace to see a beautiful stream of sun falling on the herbs and flowers that I planted in the last couple of weeks. It's so rewarding to see the seeds that I planted turn into little leaves poking out of the soil. In a few weeks I'll have 2-3 foot sunflowers smiling at me and fresh basil to fill my tummy. How wonderful!

Author Tama J. Kieves wrote this week on Facebook, "We live in a society where only 'big success' is acknowledged. We don't care about the small steps--or hear about the stumbles. But it takes outrageous courage to be on your own journey."

I'd like to continue that sentiment with the thought, ...Winning quietly, accomplishing small successes--all for your own satisfaction--is something to be celebrated. And something we need to learn to help others recognize and celebrate.

As I wrote in "More to Life," "Oh, don't tell me there's more to life than this. The simple circumstance of day to day bliss."

It's easy to focus on big stuff like weddings and graduations. It's easy to believe that an appearance on American Idol or having a hit song is what makes a performing songwriter a success.

Let's not forget that success can be small too--like when I get an email from someone that was given my album, and they are inspired by a song that pushes them through the shuffles of their days--That is a success too. That is a cause for small celebration.

Or success can be my own garden's yellow flowers blooming and green leaves shining in the morning sunlight.

It does take tremendous courage to be on your own journey, unrecognized, and quietly winning for your own satisfaction. So, today, it's June 1. We made it. Let's celebrate this small success together.

Genie in a Bottle - April 17, 2013

I am thrilled that this week The Inquisitive Eater published my article Genie in a Bottle: Colatura tradizionale di alici di Cetara.


Genie in a Bottle: Colatura tradizionale di alici di Cetara

By Allison Scola

Packaged in a delicate glass bottle with a long, thin neck and cork seal, a bottle of colatura resembles an alchemist’s ancient potion or my grandmother’s favorite perfume. It is an amber colored liquid with the consistency of soy sauce, and crudely explained to be “salted anchovy sauce” or “anchovy syrup.”

I heard whispers of colatura from various cooks, but because it can only be found in specialty Italian food stores, I hadn’t tasted it or cooked with it until this week. Food historians trace its origins to an ancient Greek and Roman condiment known as garum—giving colatura even more.


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