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 of her music since 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.…

Arriving in Sicily

The arrival (Catania, August 2002) Arriving at Catania airport, my husband and I are hit by the blistering heat of August in Sicily. We are two sweaty zombies after an eighteen-hour flight from Perth, Western Australia to Rome, followed by another hour from Rome to Catania. It is hotter than hell. Our clothes are wet…

Moving towards Sicily

The Sicily of today is very different from the one my grandparents left behind; it has gone through a tremendous economic boom which saw it move from an agricultural-based economy to one based on industry, all in one generation. People in contemporary Sicily live as well as anyone else and barely recall the hardships of…

Immigration in their blood

My Grandparent’s generation in the 1950s wasn’t the first to have left the island; the inhabitants of this region have immigration in their blood. Sicily’s ancestry comprises generations of colonising Greeks, from conquering Romans, to tyrannical Normans, cosmopolitan Arabs and imperial Bourbons. Sicily’s timeline is made up of a long succession of dominations, thirteen different…

A lifetime of Sundays

My Sicilian grandparents have passed away, and their absence from my life has left me with a great sense of emptiness. Their stories and their Sicily is a comfort to me as my family’s connection to the island is vital and goes back many generations.  I married a Sicilian, a distant cousin in a strange…

All’s fair in love and Ferragosto

Italy has an abundant amount of public holidays, ranging from the usual stuff like New Year’s day and padded out with things like Liberation Day (25th April), International workers day (1st May) and Republic Day (2nd June). Not to mention a fine cavalcade of religious celebrations, including the Epiphany (6th January), All Saint’s Day (1st…

Sicilian Descent

Of Sicilian Descent is a diary about my experiences living on the island of Sicily. A series of essays, sketches and poetic observations that document a gradual immersion into the lifestyle, history and culture of an ancient Mediterranean Island. Life in Sicily is different from the rest of Italy; things are more intense, ancient and…

Words from Sicily: Disorientation

The mountainous landscape in Sicily persistently challenges me. The boundless slopes disorient me; they dominate the horizon. When I go hiking down steep hillsides, I am constantly holding on for dear life, grappling white-knuckled onto the flimsiest blade of grass in my reach. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve sprained my ankles or fallen’…

Words from Sicily: Sicilian mountains

Looking up at the lush mountains across from me, I realise that the road on our side of the valley must be a mirror reflection of what we see on the other side, the landscape divided in half by a river at its floor. I am suddenly terrified. The bluffs are menacing, and a strange…

Words from Sicily: D.H Lawrence

I’m always being asked about Sicily’s landscape; what is it like? The truth is Sicily is very mountainous and difficult to negotiate. In its interior, the roads are constantly under repair or filled with detours; a short physical distance can turn into hours of curvey mountaintop back roads and deviations. While at times I find…

Words from Sicily: 100 Sicilies

Gesualdo Bufalino wrote about Sicily’s many different faces. He was fascinated by the multifacited nature of the island, filled with many paradoxes and contrasting elements that often exist side by side. The complexity and instability of the island’s cultural history has created an engimantic place which is difficult to define. Bufalino says how there are…

Words from Sicily: a slice of life

I’ve been going through a bit of a creative lull lately. It usually happens at this time of year in Sicily; the summers on the island are generally so torrid and filled with humidity that my concentration is permanently shot. I typically go on holiday and forget about getting my productivity back. I try to…

Words from Sicily: Scirocco

Taormina, Messina It’s been one hell of a week in Sicily, literally. On Sunday, I was at my nephew’s first holy communion celebration, usually an elaborate affair in small-town Sicily. The festivities involve religious service attendance and rituals as well as some social requirements. These include buying appropriate clothing, some preening and grooming, followed by…

Words from Sicily: sunshine and the beach

I’m convinced the sunshine in Sicily has its own remarkable quality. Every time I find myself visiting my native Australia in the summertime, I remember how harsh and unforgiving the sun can be; there is a reason Australia is known as the sunburnt country. Summer in the Mediterranean is hot and humid but the sun…

Words from Sicily: Souvenirs

My brother and I used to have this game we played. Every place we visited, we’d seek out the tackiest souvenir we could find and take a photo of it. It was just about having a bit of a laugh and trying to outdo one another on family trips. It could have been a tacky…