Political intrigue in small town Sicily

Small town life is always insidious, the reality in Sicily is ever more so. Not only do you find everyone knows about everyone else’s business but they have been sticking in their noses for generations and so if you are a newcomer you will be a target for gossip. I’ve been living here for a…

Postcards from Sicily: The humble wood pile

Every Sicilian has one of these in the winter. Either neatly arranged, stored in front of their door or covered up in a secret nook. I'm loving the wood stove right now. Brrrrrr!! Thank god for the wood pile!

Literary Islands: Vitaliano Brancati

I stumbled upon Vitaliano Brancati quite by accident in a bookstore at Messina. I was attracted by the title of one his books, I discovered after he was quite a prolific novelist and later his most famous novel Il Bel Antonio was developed into a movie staring Marcello Mastroianni, which became a classic of Italian…

Postcards from Sicily: Winter

This winter has been disappointing for me, no snow for Christmas or New Years. Less money thanks to the Economic crisis and new taxes to pay in 2014. Cloudy times in wintry Sicily.

An Expat’s Open Letter to Babbo Natale

    Dear Father Christmas,   As you know every Christmas I experience away from my family and friends is always tinged with guilt and melancholy. Even if the blessings of my children and new friends distract me from dwelling on negativity. Such is the life of an expat.   I don’t particularly want any…

The fantasy of Cinepanettone and Fantaghirò

Apart from the usual annual preparations for Christmas like the tediousness of gift buying, yuletide menu planning and gift wrapping there is the tradition of the Christmas movie. Everyone has their favorite whether it be a black and white Jimmy Stewart classic, a kitsch Father Christmas tale, the Grinch that stole Christmas or endless tired…

The Sicilian art of the incomplete

It is common in Sicily to see people living in unfinished houses or apartments with exposed bricks, cement and reinforced steel poking out dangerously like rusty modern sculptures on roofs left behind as it to say: ‘I could build a second storey if I feel like it, ora vediamo ...' Yes the quintessential loitering phrase…

Postcards from Sicily: Funky winter fruit

One funky winter fruit common here in Sicily are these gorgeous fruit called Corbezzoli in Italian or Mbriaculi in Sicilian. They are fuzzy little slightly spiky balls of sweet goodness. Apparently when animals eat too many of them they ferment in their stomachs making them slightly drunk. According to Google translator these are Arbutus fruit,…

The inspiration of Etna

  I’ve been wanting to post about my visits to Etna and how the volcano has always been a rich source of inspiration for me. Her latest eruptions have given me the motivation to get to writing about her.   Yes to the Sicilian’s Etna, is very much a ‘she,’ a strong female symbol of…

This month in the garden: the Kiwi

  I’ve never been a green thumb, actually I’m the direct polar opposite. If you name a plant I’ve probably killed it. One time I even managed to liquidate two cacti whom I had named Iglesias and Beniamino, they strangely rotted to death after I over watered them (yes I managed to over water a…

A coffee temptation

I’ve always been a coffee drinker. I started off with instant stuff, then graduated to frothy cappuccino, milky latte and now I live in Italy it’s one hundred percent hardcore espresso. I briefly flirted with tea drinking in my youth, in the anglo saxon tradition of taking afternoon tea, so common in England loving Australia…

10 books to read instead of visiting Sicily

I’m big on reading and the journey books can create in your life. If you can’t travel a book can give you an authentic experience without leaving your armchair. Sometimes travelling isn't always possible but this is no reason not to experience a place through its literature. Sicily has inspired many locals and foreigners with…