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 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…

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…

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:…

Sicilian saying of the day: Bad habits

  U sceccu chi si mancia a fichera u viziu si lu lava quannu mori. The donkey who eats figs is only rid of the habit when he dies. The humble donkey used to be the work animal of choice in Sicily, able to carry heavy loads and negotiate the mountain terrain common on the…

Sicilian saying of the day: Learning

  U lignu si torci quannu e’ virdi   Literally the wood is moulded when it is green. Sicilian wisdom is practical, true and often uses metaphors from the natural world. This phrase is symbolic of the islands basic ‘folk wisdom.’ In fact habits and character are best moulded in youth.    

Sicilian word of the day: Scirocco

    The scirocco is an infernal African air current from the desert who whips up the heat in the Mediterranean to unbearable levels during the summer . If this hot wind is still the day is pleasant but if it is on the prowl it makes the air too hot to breathe. Someone who…

Sicilian’s flare for uttering profanities

When I was a child I had an Uncle who was terribly capricious, a real joker (he still is until this day) and he took great pleasure in teaching my brother and I all the colourful Italian swear words possible.  My Uncle thought it was all terribly funny and hoped we’d use them in front…

Picking up a Sicilian vocabulary

Lately, I’ve noticed a new development with my language skills. I think I’m going native. Many missionaries from past centuries wrote of how after years of living with a foreign culture and language they have felt like a constant outsider until the day when they realise their tongue has somehow assimilated elements of the local…