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…

Earning a nickname

There are no skeletons in the closet in small-town Sicily, as the broader population identifies every individual member with distinct soprannome or nicknames. These simple and often coarse caricatures have existed for generations and can pinpoint members of a particular family, or are earned after a significant event, distinctive physical feature or personality trait. A…

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…

A tasteful introduction to Sicilian cuisine

Italy is a foodies paradise, and each town has its own particular specialities. From region to region and city to city, each place has its form and interpretation of pasta, typical seasonal ingredients, wines, cheeses, and desserts. It would take months to work your way around the boot and taste everything. Without the luxury 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…

To panettone or not to panettone…

I fondly remember growing up in Western Australia: every year, my Sicilian Grandmother would proudly pull out and slice some sweet panettone bread after Christmas lunch. For Nonna, the fluffy mushroom-shaped loaf was a fine treat filled with candied orange, citron, lemon zest and raisins. As a fussy teenager, I hated it. I was usually…

Slipping in from the window

Sitting at my kitchen table at my Sinagra home, I open the window on the balcony from the kitchen, which peers out onto a dirty grey wall. The wall is of another house which I can see directly in front of my window. There is another balcony jetting out of the smaller place, basically three…

Sicilian detto of the day: Fools

This week’s Sicilian saying is the quintessential mixture of astute observation, wisdom and crudeness. Symbolic of the Sicilian erudite, down to earth no-nonsense approach to life. And I love it. So the saying says: Lu minchiuni ‘un si conusci quannu nasci; si conusci quannu cresci. To break it down a little, my literal translation is:…

First Days living in Sicily

During my first days living at Sinagra, I noticed people had a strange way of treating me. It is as if I’m a novelty. I am a new plaything, a foreigner whom people regard with curiosity. I quickly became the subject of local gossip. Walking out into the main square in town with my husband,…

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: Seraphim

I recently was working on revising a poem I’d written many years ago which reflects on the nature of human nature and language. The poem titled A Babel of words uses the biblical story of the tower of babel from Genesis as a metaphor for the over-reaching ambitious nature of humanity. I’ve been obsessed with…

Words from Sicily: Details

I use my camera like I’d use a notebook. recording little details and notes, things I’ve noticed or want to remember. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern, something that is unusual to. It could be a texture that catches my eye or the way the sunlight hits a…

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…

How to peel a fico d’india

The exotic prickly pear (fico d’india) is a delicacy in Sicily and thrives around the entire island. Known also as the Barbary fig (opuntia ficus-indica) it is a species of cactus cultivated throughout the world in arid and semiarid areas and is thought to be native to Mexico. It is best to taste them after…

Italian Song Challenge Day 30: Heather Parisi

https://youtu.be/99YyIr6YJmU Once again, I wasn’t listening to Italian music in my childhood, nor did I spend my childhood in Italy. So I choose this song which is something everyone in Italy grew up listening to. A cute song from the 1980s which was also used in a famous Italian cartoon series. Heather Parisi is an…