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…

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…

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…

First and lasting impressions of Palermo: Sicilian conquerors

I pass by other places that I've vaguely heard of and seem familiar with yet are merely names like Tusa, Acquadolce and Finale. Then there is Cefalù, the famous beachside resort town from ancient Greek times. From the train, there are endless beachside villas, fishing boats and ruins left behind by long-departed Greek and Roman…

First and lasting impressions of Palermo: Midnight in Sicily

There is a book by Australian writer Peter Robb which has contributed to my ongoing fascination with Palermo. After reading Midnight in Sicily, I imagined wandering through Palermo's streets, exploring Norman palaces, experiencing the exotic food markets and discovering little hidden restaurants which cooked an endless array of seafood. Apart from being one of my…

The Art of asking

A couple of years ago, I read Amanda Palmer’s fascinating memoir titled the Art of asking. I’ve been a fan since her band, the Dresden Dolls, burst onto the alternative music scene in the early 2000s. Apart from being a memoir, The Art of asking explores creativity and how to make it a career. Above…

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…

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…

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…

Sicilian Descent

Of Sicilian Descent is a diary about my experiences living on the island of Sicily. A series of essays, sketches and poetic observations that document a gradual immersion into the lifestyle, history and culture of an ancient Mediterranean Island. Life in Sicily is different from the rest of Italy; things are more intense, ancient and…

Words from Sicily: D.H Lawrence

I’m always being asked about Sicily’s landscape; what is it like? The truth is Sicily is very mountainous and difficult to negotiate. In its interior, the roads are constantly under repair or filled with detours; a short physical distance can turn into hours of curvey mountaintop back roads and deviations. While at times I find…

Words from Sicily: sunshine and the beach

I’m convinced the sunshine in Sicily has its own remarkable quality. Every time I find myself visiting my native Australia in the summertime, I remember how harsh and unforgiving the sun can be; there is a reason Australia is known as the sunburnt country. Summer in the Mediterranean is hot and humid but the sun…

Words from Sicily: Souvenirs

My brother and I used to have this game we played. Every place we visited, we’d seek out the tackiest souvenir we could find and take a photo of it. It was just about having a bit of a laugh and trying to outdo one another on family trips. It could have been a tacky…

Words from Sicily: Taormina

Taormina has long since been Sicily’s most favourite resort town, perched on a coastal bluff that looks out to the Tyrrhenian Sea between Messina and Catania in the north east of the island. Its ancient narrow streets are full of little specialist shops, cafes and restaurants, which are an invitation to step into the spell…

Sicily in the time of Coronavirus

Photo by Matt Seymour on Unsplash In March of 2020 things changed rather quickly in Sicily and overnight as Coronavirus began spreading in Northern Italy. Children went from celebrating the final day of the Carnival in the usual fancy dress party atmosphere with their classmates, into a complete home lockdown. Big cities and little towns…