Sicilian saying of the day: gossiping

A pirnici canta tri voti io iornu e sempri a danno so The partridge sings three times a day and always to his own disadvantage. Another beautiful natural image, this time of a wild bird widely hunted throughout Sicily and seen as a metaphor for the unattractive habit of malicious human gossip. Any suggestions for…

Postcards from Sicily: the spirit of things

    There are literally hundreds of water fountains all over Italy gushing with water, Baroque details and sculpture. Often we are mesmerized by the immense works of art without seeing the cute little details. This grumpy little water god got my attention when he blew in my ear as I walked by the old…

Sicilian saying of the day: the humble jackass

  U sceccu porta sempri u barduni A donkey always carries the load. Yet another folk saying to do with the humble donkey, a symbol of hard work and stubbornness. Simply put, a jackass will always be an ass. Hummmm, a leopard doesn’t change its spots, simply doesn’t have the same directness does it!?!? For…

Sicilian impressions: beauty in the details

    Often beauty is in the fine detail. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the immense works of art all over Italy, yet while trying to take in the whole you often miss the subtle aspects. This detail above the main door at the Duomo of Messina is as magnificent as the entire…

Window shopping in Sicily

Italy is a place where fashion comes alive. Italians have a real flare for it whether it be elderly ladies dressed in colorful silk tops and high heels, or the latest shop window display from Dolce and Gabanna there is an astounding level of creative expression happening deep within the Italian psyche which is inspiring.…

Sicilian saying of the day: Bad habits

  U sceccu chi si mancia a fichera u viziu si lu lava quannu mori. The donkey who eats figs is only rid of the habit when he dies. The humble donkey used to be the work animal of choice in Sicily, able to carry heavy loads and negotiate the mountain terrain common on the…

Postcards from Sicily: Fiat 500

    The Fiat 500 is an enigmatic symbol of Italy. I’ve lost track of the amount of people who say this is their dream car. I am constantly coming across these cute Italian creations, which are easy to park in cramped car parks all over Italy. The cinquecento is featured on endless tourist souvenirs…

Sicilian saying of the day: Learning

  U lignu si torci quannu e’ virdi   Literally the wood is moulded when it is green. Sicilian wisdom is practical, true and often uses metaphors from the natural world. This phrase is symbolic of the islands basic ‘folk wisdom.’ In fact habits and character are best moulded in youth.    

Postcards from Sicily: Discovery

  Even if I dislike shopping around touristy type shops I am often surprised to find stunningly original items in amongst the tacky kitsch. Working my through I heart Sicily post cards, every possibly shaped lava sculpture, bamboo flutes and knickknacks I saw these little babies. A series of handcrafted tools used to pick those…

Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities

When I was a child I had an Uncle who was terribly capricious, a real joker (he still is until this day) and he took great pleasure in teaching my brother and I all the colourful Italian swear words possible.  My Uncle thought it was all terribly funny and hoped we’d use them in front…

Picking up a Sicilian vocabulary

Lately, I’ve noticed a new development with my language skills. I think I’m going native. Many missionaries from past centuries wrote of how after years of living with a foreign culture and language they have felt like a constant outsider until the day when they realise their tongue has somehow assimilated elements of the local…

Ten ways to tell you’ve been living in Sicily too long

1. I unashamedly buy my underwear at the markets. I used to be embarrassed at the prospect of buying undies and bras from market stalls, the idea of everyone observing me was once crippling. Now I don’t blink an eye and happily rummage around the lingerie stand. I also occasionally buy fruit and vegetables from…

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!

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,…