A taste of local politics

This year it is election time in my small Sicilian town. I've never been one to follow politics on any level unless it has to do with a particular issue or social problem. I can never muster the energy to pursue it. Yet, I am constantly surprised at how deeply political everyone is in Italy.…

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…

Italian coffee culture shock

  The last time I was home in Australia I became a victim to reverse culture shock. It’s a very strange affliction for an ex-pat living in Italy as usually every day you are battling tiny little moments of friction between yourself and your new home, but slowly you begin to adjust and don’t think…

Saint Leo is back

May is usually the month when the inhabitants of Sinagra have their annual appointment with their Saintly patron of St Leo. It has been two years since the festivities have been allowed to occur, thanks to Corona, so this year's 8th of May celebrations were filled with emotions for the Sinagrese. I can honestly say…

Italy’s cheating heart

An emailI recently got an email from one of my readers with an interesting question. After reading a book by British historian and aristocrat John Julius Norwich, she thought that she might have to worry about the Mafia. My reader is thinking about buying a house in Sicily, and a flippant throwaway line from Norwich…

Flamboyant Italians: Cicciolina

Italy has a history that encapsulates many elements of the Roman Catholic Church; Rome is at the centre of its origins and development and is the point where the religion began to establish and disperse itself through Europe. So it is only natural to assume Italy is a staunchly Catholic country. Right? Like many other…

Flamboyant Italians: Vittorio Sgarbi

Sometimes, living in Italy is like being inside an awful soap opera; it's a vibrant, quirky, melodramatic place filled with controversies, corruption, and paradoxes. Italy is a place of great beauty, creativity and unique experiences, overshadowed by equally abhorrent ugliness, criminality and hypocrisy. The Italian people themselves manifest these conflicting traits. I have come across…

An introduction to Flamboyant Italian personalities

Life is always a challenge for an ex-pat living in Italy. There is a constant struggle with the language, continually being reminded of an outsider by snide remarks and condescending quips about your accent. Yet ex-pats develop a thick skin and put up with many frustrations so we can soak up the beauty, way of…

Cinepanettone: A comedic celebration

It's the end of another shaky year for the world as many countries are stepping back into restrictions after various surges of Corona cases; with vaccines and boosters all around the globe and new mutations in the news, it's still a difficult moment in history. This year seems to be a little more hopeful than…

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…

Words from Sicily: Tabacchere

One of the most sumptuous fruits of the Sicilian summer has to be the Tabacchere, a strange little squashed furry peach packed with enormous flavour. I first saw these seemingly insignificant mini fruit at the fruit and vegetable stalls at the open air markets and took them as an inferior version of regular peaches. I…

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: 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…

Secluded Sicily: Longi

Longi is a tiny mountain village perched literally on a precipice with one road in and one road out in between the two other rugged mountain towns of Galati Mamertino and Frazzano' Every time I visit I am amazed at how Sicilian’s were able to build a town in such an unwelcoming part of the…

Italian word of the day: Mangiare

Every once in a while I thought it would be fun to feature a single Italian word of the day and list associated phrases and vocabulary in a sort of themed Italian language post. There are many language blogs which will give you heaps of Italian verbs and words to study but the idea of…