The New Wines of Etna

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash Ben Spencer is a journalist and professional winemaker who lives and works near Mount Etna. He explores the Mount Etna wine-producing area in a mixture of culinary history and guide book in his excellent new book The New Wines of Mount Etna. Spencer’s passion and knowledge of wine make…

The lessons we are learning

Photo by Gabriella Clare Marino on Unsplash I’ve always had a problem with the way Sicilian's trivialise the outside world while dissecting every minimal aspect of their own daily life. The world beyond Sicily has little significance, yet you can live out your life before a local community, with a microscope pointed firmly at you.…

A quick tutorial: Peeling a prickly pear

Last week I posted a story on Instagram about eating a prickly pear for breakfast and I got a few questions about this typically Sicilian delicacy. So I thought I'd do a quick video tutorial to give you a close look at this extraordinary fruit. Hope you enjoy it. And be sure to follow my…

How to peel a fico d’india

The exotic prickly pear (fico d’india) is a delicacy in Sicily and thrives around the entire island. Known also as the Barbary fig (opuntia ficus-indica) it is a species of cactus cultivated throughout the world in arid and semiarid areas and is thought to be native to Mexico. It is best to taste them after…

The prickly situation of the Fichi d’india

Mountains of prickly pears cactus plants line the roadside spreading out into the uncultivated land, they thrive in the lava soil and produce a much-loved fruit, in Sicily. The flat, irregular, leaves of the fica d’india are oval-shaped, a little bit bigger than a table tennis racquet. The fruit of this cactus ripens gradually around…

Walking from Palermo to London during a pandemic

I've been following the story of Romeo Cox an eleven-year-old boy who has managed to walk from Palermo Sicily to London, to visit his Grandmother. He is also raising money for disadvantaged children and refugees in Sicily. I was so taken by his story that I sent him a few questions, which he managed to…

Sicily in the time of Coronavirus

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash In March of 2020 things changed rather quickly in Sicily and overnight as Coronavirus began spreading in Northern Italy. Children went from celebrating the final day of the Carnival in the usual fancy dress party atmosphere with their classmates, into a complete home lockdown. Big cities and little towns…

Italian Song Challenge Day 30: Heather Parisi

https://youtu.be/99YyIr6YJmU Once again, I wasn’t listening to Italian music in my childhood, nor did I spend my childhood in Italy. So I choose this song which is something everyone in Italy grew up listening to. A cute song from the 1980s which was also used in a famous Italian cartoon series. Heather Parisi is an…

Italian Song challenge Day 29: Måneskin

https://youtu.be/GWVMcigVt48 Maneskin totally decimated the 2017 edition of the talent show X factor with their irreverent style. The energy of their stunningly original lead vocalist Damiano David, allowed them to finish in second place. They mix together contemporary rock, with folk, shock rock and 1980’s disco. The unique groups sound, attitude and presentation, has made…

Italian Song challenge Day 28: Noemi

https://youtu.be/HPVSB8kOWrM Veronica Scopelliti, known by the stage name of Noemi, is a highly successful singer-songwriter and television personality. After several years working in the music industry with only moderate success, she decided to participate in the 2009 edition of X Factor Italy. Even though she did not win the competition, the program showed off her…

Italian Song Challenge Day 27: Laura Pausini

https://youtu.be/FpOEN93LX-E Laura Pausini became famous after being discovered as a child while performing in a local piano bar. Pausini's incredibly powerful voice brought her television stardom, and her recording career has made her famous all around the world. Pausini rose to fame in 1993 when she won the newcomers section of the 43rd Sanremo festival…

Italian Song Challenge Day 26: Gianna Nannini

https://youtu.be/llt3K3dJuaM Gianna Nannini grew up in the Tuscan town of Siena. She spent her childhood learning music, she studied piano at the Conservatorium at Lucca and worked in the family business as a pastry chef. At the age of 18, Nannini participated in a music festival at Montecarlo, coming in fourth place. The following year…

Italian Song Challenge Day 25: Lucio Battisti

https://youtu.be/FBKE86YmS6w Lucio Battisti (1943 – 1998) was a hugely influential Italian singer-songwriter and composer who was widely recognised for many of the songs that defined Italian pop in the 60’s and 70’s. Battisti released 18 albums from 1969 to 1994, with many translated and released in other languages including Spanish, English, French and German. He…

Italian Song Challeng Day 24: J-AX & Fedez

https://youtu.be/yKT_euhimTk Officially J-ax and Fedez were not a band, the two irreverent rappers were collaborators over several albums. They both have a gift for fast-paced, acidic, funny lyrics and parody. Together they have created many immensely popular Italian pop songs over the last few years. It’s sad to see that they will no longer be…

Italian Song challenge Day 23: Ermal Meta

https://youtu.be/4WMejmcT9ZY Ermal Meta is a fascinating artist originally from Albania he literally fled civil war as a child, arriving in Italy on a boat. His work reflects the point of view of migrants to Italy, the oppressed and marginalised. His songs, far from being harsh or dark, are filled with hope and joy. After becoming…