The eternally misunderstood melanzana

Melanzana, eggplant, aubergine or whatever you call it is the quintessential Mediterranean vegetable. Exotic, sumptuous, voluptuous and irresistible if cooked properly. Many people don't understand melanzana, they find it strange and hate the taste, but if prepared well, it can become the crowning glory of any dish. The Melanzana is a precious fruit of the…

The trials of raising a bilingual child in small-town Italy

I'm raising my child to speak English in Italy, not just anywhere in Italy but precisely in a small town in Sicily. Unlike the major cities on the peninsula like Rome, Milan, or even Palermo, with large ex-pat communities and English international schools, I'm the only English speaker in my local community. This is great…

10 irksome culture shocks in Italy

It's been a while since my last rant about the irksome parts of culture shock in Italy. I've learnt to adapt to most of the stuff I used to find bothersome; after all, you cannot pretend that an entire culture will change to fit your convenience. I take culture shock with a smile and try…

Hunting near Capizzi

Capizzi is clumsily spilt on a high hill; its stone houses have been plucked out of the Middle Ages. The streets are made of tightly paved stones and tiny dwellings like huts huddled together to create a mosaic in different shades of charcoal.  The road snakes up the hill to Capizzi reaching a peak at the head of…

Creativity and mental health

The last two years have been tough on everyone. Our lives were disrupted, and we were forced to scale down our lives. Many people lost friends and family. Others are still suffering from stress, anxiety and depression. I don't want to harp on the negativity, but I, too, have been struggling. I have had problems…

The Fertility of Sicily

An old Sicilian mantra says in Sicily there are only good or bad seasons. In a place of few subtleties, there is only the bountiful or frugal and little in between. Sicilians are born out of their land and are shaped by the seasons the landscape creates. A Siciliano will hibernate in winter and interact…

Burnt out and frustrated

Lately, I've been feeling a little tired, frustrated and burnt out. At the beginning of the year, I'd set myself the goal to post every day either on this blog or my creative writing blog. I've been maintaining this practice and have made a routine of preparing three posts here on Sicily Inside and Out…

Colours and tales from Sicily

I use my camera like I’d use a notebook. recording little details and notes, things I’ve noticed or want to remember. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern, something that is unusual to. It could be a texture that catches my eye or the way the sunlight hits a…

The story is always in the details

I use my camera like I'd use a notebook. I record little details and notes, things I've noticed or want to remember for later. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern which seems unusual. It could be a texture that catches my eye or how the sunlight hits a…

First and lasting impressions of Palermo: Sicilian conquerors

I pass by other places that I've vaguely heard of and seem familiar with yet are merely names like Tusa, Acquadolce and Finale. Then there is Cefalù, the famous beachside resort town from ancient Greek times. From the train, there are endless beachside villas, fishing boats and ruins left behind by long-departed Greek and Roman…

First and lasting impressions of Palermo: Midnight in Sicily

There is a book by Australian writer Peter Robb which has contributed to my ongoing fascination with Palermo. After reading Midnight in Sicily, I imagined wandering through Palermo's streets, exploring Norman palaces, experiencing the exotic food markets and discovering little hidden restaurants which cooked an endless array of seafood. Apart from being one of my…

The Art of asking

A couple of years ago, I read Amanda Palmer’s fascinating memoir titled the Art of asking. I’ve been a fan since her band, the Dresden Dolls, burst onto the alternative music scene in the early 2000s. Apart from being a memoir, The Art of asking explores creativity and how to make it a career. Above…

Life in the classical underworld

I sometimes feel as if I am a modern Persephone, abducted by my husband to live in the underworld. An underworld in the classical sense, the ancient Greeks' afterlife, the place where Hades, the ruler of the spirit realm, abides and where mythology finds its home. I wasn't kidnapped but somewhat constrained by my love…

Living a Sicilian life

I’m not sure how it happened, but it was a gradual transformation. I didn’t even notice it. After many years of living in Sicily, I have become accustomed to its rhythm, to small-town living, and at times it infuriates me, yet I find I have achieved a certain comfort with life on the island. I…

The end of summer

Sicily at the end of August is a fiery ball of heat, humidity, mosquitoes and desert winds whipping up from Africa. We arrive in Sicily in the final month of Summer; my husband decides to take a couple more weeks off work; to rest and get over jet lag. Italy shuts down at this time…