Postcards from Sicily: Winter

This winter has been disappointing for me, no snow for Christmas or New Years. Less money thanks to the Economic crisis and new taxes to pay in 2014. Cloudy times in wintry Sicily.

The fantasy of Cinepanettone and Fantaghirò

Apart from the usual annual preparations for Christmas like the tediousness of gift buying, yuletide menu planning and gift wrapping there is the tradition of the Christmas movie. Everyone has their favorite whether it be a black and white Jimmy Stewart classic, a kitsch Father Christmas tale, the Grinch that stole Christmas or endless tired…

The Sicilian art of the incomplete

It is common in Sicily to see people living in unfinished houses or apartments with exposed bricks, cement and reinforced steel poking out dangerously like rusty modern sculptures on roofs left behind as it to say: ‘I could build a second storey if I feel like it, ora vediamo ...' Yes the quintessential loitering phrase…

Postcards from Sicily: Funky winter fruit

One funky winter fruit common here in Sicily are these gorgeous fruit called Corbezzoli in Italian or Mbriaculi in Sicilian. They are fuzzy little slightly spiky balls of sweet goodness. Apparently when animals eat too many of them they ferment in their stomachs making them slightly drunk. According to Google translator these are Arbutus fruit,…

Secluded Sicily: San Marco d’Alunzio

This curious itsy-bitsy place attracted my attention when I first saw it from a train heading from Palermo to Messina. I blinked my eyes in amazement to witness a town literally camped up on the top of a mountain. San Marco d’Alunzio seems tightly compacted up there on Monte Castro some five hundred and forty…

Literary Islands: Giovanni Verga

  Most language students who study Italian at university level are familiar with Giovanni Verga as his short stories in the simple realist style are a perfect introduction to Italian Literature as they are easy for first year students to follow. Verga’s short tale Cavalleria Rusticana was made into an opera libretto which together with…

The inspiration of Etna

  I’ve been wanting to post about my visits to Etna and how the volcano has always been a rich source of inspiration for me. Her latest eruptions have given me the motivation to get to writing about her.   Yes to the Sicilian’s Etna, is very much a ‘she,’ a strong female symbol of…

This month in the garden: the Kiwi

  I’ve never been a green thumb, actually I’m the direct polar opposite. If you name a plant I’ve probably killed it. One time I even managed to liquidate two cacti whom I had named Iglesias and Beniamino, they strangely rotted to death after I over watered them (yes I managed to over water a…

A coffee temptation

I’ve always been a coffee drinker. I started off with instant stuff, then graduated to frothy cappuccino, milky latte and now I live in Italy it’s one hundred percent hardcore espresso. I briefly flirted with tea drinking in my youth, in the anglo saxon tradition of taking afternoon tea, so common in England loving Australia…

Five reasons not to book your holiday to Italy in August

  Some friends have told me they are finally coming to Italy next year and I’m over the moon to get to see them! They are coming in August, a time of year I’d really encourage people to avoid. I don’t understand why travel agents encourage people to book holidays to Italy in August or…

Literary Islands: Salvatore Quasimodo

If I could take only one emblematic book with me from Sicily, I’d defiantly choose Salvatore Quasimodo’s complete poetical works. One of Sicily’s Primo Nobel’s in Literature, Quasimodo illustrates all the colours of his native island. His lifetime’s work, themes and forms span from: sparse expressive poetry, experimental pieces, poems inspired by mythology, politically charged…

I morticini Halloween in Sicily

According to the Roman Catholic traditions in Sicily the first two days of November are known as ‘All Saints day' and 'All Souls day' (respectively dedicated to  the churches’ canonized Saints and the deceased). As with most traditions they have become colourfully interpreted by popular culture and anticipated by the thirty first of October, good…