A Sicilian feast

The feast starts with the still-warm bread from the village bakery at Floresta. Sliced into thick pieces, they are quickly snatched up to fend off the growing hunger. A bundle of serviettes, plastic plates, knives, forks and glasses are scattered around the table, enough for a rustic meal. Two large four-litre bottles of wine, one…

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…

The good volcano

Etna is an absolute monster, a living, breathing part of the Sicilian landscape. Its sixty by forty-kilometre base is the heart of the island. The three thousand three hundred meters tall shadow has given birth to the fertile Sicilian land, rich in mythology. The volcano is different things to different people. For the ancient Greeks,…

Wintertime

During my first winter in Sicily, I visited La Pillera, an idyllic place near Montalbano, buried in the depths of the forests of the never-ending Nebrodi mountains. It is a place where time stops, and the outside world is forgotten. Here, amongst the hazelnut trees, a decomposing villa camouflaged in the folds of the sprawling…

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…

My Grandmother’s eyes

In the mirror there I can’t see myself.  I see my grandmother’ eyes looking back at me  and remember how I made them cry. She is the strongest person I know  and in one mad moment, thinking of myself  I made her weep. I was distracted worrying about overweight baggage  and departure times  I forgot…

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: a slice of life

I’ve been going through a bit of a creative lull lately. It usually happens at this time of year in Sicily; the summers on the island are generally so torrid and filled with humidity that my concentration is permanently shot. I typically go on holiday and forget about getting my productivity back. I try to…

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: Rambling around Taormina

My love of Taormina runs deep. It’s the first place I’ve ever taken any friend who has visited Sicily, and I simply adore exploring the town. I’m a little tired of visiting the Greek amphitheatre but not totally adverse to it, especially if the weather is excellent. You can see Etna (which hardly ever happens,…

Words from Sicily: A stroll with St Leo

The 8th of May marks the big festa patronale at Sinagra, the Sicilian village where I live. Each town in Italy has its own patron Saint who is celebrated during the year according to traditions. Every place has an intimate bond with their saintly protector and gradually through the years they have become a part…

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…

Words from Sicily: Fichi d’India

Driving through the countryside outside Catania, under the shadow of Mount Etna between the lava rocks and the dark soil dotted with olives and pistachio trees. There is an introduced plant that thrives and has been claimed by Sicily the fico d’india literally the Indian fig. The prickly pear is a natural survivor of everything…

The New Wines of Etna

Photo by Josh Bean on Unsplash Ben Spencer is a journalist and professional winemaker who lives and works near Mount Etna. He explores the Mount Etna wine-producing area in a mixture of culinary history and guide book in his excellent new book The New Wines of Mount Etna. Spencer’s passion and knowledge of wine make…

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…