Sicilian details: Taormina

Walking around Taormina, one of my favourite places to visit in Sicily, I came across an impressive lawyer's office. It was a few hundred meters down the road from the Anfiteatro; the ancient greek open-air theatre still used today for summer concerts. I imagined the lawyer closing his office late one summer night and strolling…

The story is always in the details

I use my camera like I'd use a notebook. I record little details and notes, things I've noticed or want to remember for later. I photograph small things that catch my eye, a particular design or pattern which seems unusual. It could be a texture that catches my eye or how the sunlight hits a…

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…

Bitesize pieces of Sicily

There are many ways of exploring Sicily, from visiting the bigger cities and tourist centres, food and winery tours or seeing the major historical sites, from Greek temples to endless museums.  Logistically moving around Sicily is difficult simply because of the mountainous landscape, poor infrastructure, lack of reliable public transport and confusing or absent signage.…

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…

Impressions of Palermo: Mafia

  Palermo is a place that has always created many different pictures in my imagination. Palermo is the city of the Mafia, a word I've never really understood until I came to live here. The Mafia is not a Hollywood stereotype; it is a tangible form of organised crime that has grown and developed together…

Exploring small Sicilian towns

When people come to Sicily, they tend to go along the well-followed tourist road, sticking to the main cities like Palermo or Catania or visit coastal resort towns like Taormina or Cefalù, which are all beautiful and worthwhile. Still, the island offers many more unique experiences.I always advise people to go and explore smaller towns,…

Life in the classical underworld

I sometimes feel as if I am a modern Persephone, abducted by my husband to live in the underworld. An underworld in the classical sense, the ancient Greeks' afterlife, the place where Hades, the ruler of the spirit realm, abides and where mythology finds its home. I wasn't kidnapped but somewhat constrained by my love…

Sicilian saying: Nothing ventured

Taking a look at the world of Sicilian sayings I'm constantly being reminded of the Sicilian down to earth nature; they say it how it is without mincing words. I love their honesty. Once again, I am reminded of my Nonni's persistent words of advice in each of these Sicilian sayings posts. My Sicilian grandparents…

The end of summer

Sicily at the end of August is a fiery ball of heat, humidity, mosquitoes and desert winds whipping up from Africa. We arrive in Sicily in the final month of Summer; my husband decides to take a couple more weeks off work; to rest and get over jet lag. Italy shuts down at this time…

Sicilian saying: Education

I know my dearly departed Sicilian grandparents always placed a lot of value and importance on education. Even though they didn't have the opportunity to have a lot of schooling, they were constantly learning new things. They managed to navigate a new country and language with great success. I always considered them a great font…

Sicilian Status Quo

In my search to understand the character of Sicily, I discover the work of the Sicilian writer Giuseppe di Lampedusa. His novel, The Leopard, is set in the period of the Risorgimento when Italy violently transformed itself from a collection of principalities into a unified country. This masterpiece is filled with insightful observations on the…

My Father in law and his lawyer

My father-in-law looks like the classical Sicilian Mafioso. When I first met him, I found him intimidating, with his mumbling voice, imposing figure and well-kept moustache. As I spent more time with my new family, I discovered a doting grandfather. He helps his family in any way possible. He has a commanding presence over his…

Sicilian sayings: angels and devils

One of the most vital attributes of Italians and Sicilians is their sincerity. In general, Sicilian's are very honest; they don't like people who put on a false face. Hence this week's Sicilian saying, which gives us a warning about the fraudulent nature of some people. With the church-attending tradition at the foremost of our…

Slow paced but dangerous

Life at the in-laws is slow-paced but pleasant. Their house is a few kilometres out of Sinagra, following the river inland. Taking a left turn up from the road parallel to the seasonal river bed brings you to a steep climb where the road turns left again abruptly on a terrifying hairpin curve. The steering…