Mata and Grifone

  Sicily is famous for its ceramics, designed in the classic Maiolica glazed style with delicate baroque patterns. The most original pieces and those who stimulate the most interest from visitors are the Moorish head designs, which consist of pairs of pots, cups or jars which depict a fair-skinned woman and a man with distinctly…

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…

Leonforte

Goethe once said to have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy, for Sicily is the clue to everything. But to understand Sicily, you need to go to its geographical centre because the key to the island's identity is there. The province of Enna is known as the belly button…

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…

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…

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 humble olive harvest

There is something humbling about participating in a traditional olive harvest. Every couple of years, I get to help my husband, and his family gather olives to make oil for our own family. Everyone loves the taste of good high-quality oil, and I refuse to do without it. I grew up eating olives, and I’m…

Saint Leo’s Festival day at Sinagra

Today Sinagra celebrates its Patron Saint Leone Bishop of Catania, born at Ravenna during medieval times. He was famous for his compassion and works of charity for the poor. But above all St Leo was a conqueror of false religions and idolatry. In his sermon at Sinagra today, the Catholic Bishop of Patti Guglielmo Giombanco…

For the love of Sicilian markets

It’s no secret I’m a fan of open-air markets. I love trawling through every stand exploring what I can find. My blog is filled with photos of African wood carvings, crafty jewellery and fun discoveries, endless market randomness and textures. I enjoy the colours and the unexpected. A Sicilian market contains everything from fresh produce,…

Springtime postcards from Sicily

I've been spending my Easter break here in Sicily with friends and family trying to find a spark of energy to keep me going after a particularly devastating start to the year. I'm slowly getting back into things, trying to find a new routine. Easter for me was about day trips to the Nebrodi Mountains…

The Giudei of San Fratello: part 2

During the Giudei's procession, I am introduced to a local academic and former mayor of San Fratello, Professor Salvatore Mangione. He offers me a drink at a small bar, together with other acquaintances. This gives me a chance to get off the crowded street and out of the confusion. I stand at the bar for…

The Giudei of San Fratello: part 1

San Fratello is perched high up in the rambling Sicilian highlands, nesting itself in the crown of the Nebrodi Mountains, which run along the Tyrrhenian coast towards Palermo. The road on the way to the town negotiates its way through the mountains like an elaborate obstacle course; every car is climbing up navigates hairpin curves…

Rebuilding Messina

  The most powerful recorded earthquake to hit Europe struck Messina at about 5:20 AM local time. Its epicentre was under the Strait of Messina, which separates the island of Sicily from the province of Calabria, the “toe” of Italy’s geographical “boot.” The main shock lasted for more than 20 seconds, and its magnitude reached 7.5 on the Richter scale. Ten minutes…