Sicilian details: signs

I love taking photos of walls and signage; they have the same quality as an old postcard, like a memory of an ancient time. I took a photo of a fragment from a poem on a wall at Monreale. I liked the dirty paint, the lettering seemed like something from the Fascist period, and I…

Sicilian Details from Catania

While accompanying my husband on his work trips to Catania, I noticed how many little water pools dotted the harsh lava landscape. Since I spent most of my time standing out in the sun to help by holding up one of those measuring poles you see surveyors using on the roads, I didn't get much…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Sicilian saying: how to get rich

I think it's pretty endearing that most Sicilian sayings have an innate distrust of the wealthy. Quite literally, money becomes the root of all evil. In the once agricultural-based society of Sicily, money was less important; the focus was on work, family, friends, community and savouring the moment. Anyone with money was usually from the…

A Baron’s dominion

Deep in the kingdom of the hazelnuts, the Baron of Salleo’s family had wealthy agricultural patronage with many hectares of hazelnuts, olive trees, wheat fields, together with country properties, a residence at the centre of Sinagra and another in the nearby hamlet of Baronia, most probably named in honour of the Baron himself. The Salleo…

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:…