Arriving in Sicily

The arrival (Catania, August 2002) Arriving at Catania airport, my husband and I are hit by the blistering heat of August in Sicily. We are two sweaty zombies after an eighteen-hour flight from Perth, Western Australia to Rome, followed by another hour from Rome to Catania. It is hotter than hell. Our clothes are wet…

Moving towards Sicily

The Sicily of today is very different from the one my grandparents left behind; it has gone through a tremendous economic boom which saw it move from an agricultural-based economy to one based on industry, all in one generation. People in contemporary Sicily live as well as anyone else and barely recall the hardships of…

Immigration in their blood

My Grandparent’s generation in the 1950s wasn’t the first to have left the island; the inhabitants of this region have immigration in their blood. Sicily’s ancestry comprises generations of colonising Greeks, from conquering Romans, to tyrannical Normans, cosmopolitan Arabs and imperial Bourbons. Sicily’s timeline is made up of a long succession of dominations, thirteen different…

Sicilian DNA

Poetry is and will always be my first love. My poems come from my dreams, imagination and emotions. They appear in my mind unexpectedly. An idea comes in a phrase or an image that keeps repeating itself. Something will pester me to the point I cannot ignore. I write it down and it leaves my…

A lifetime of Sundays

My Sicilian grandparents have passed away, and their absence from my life has left me with a great sense of emptiness. Their stories and their Sicily is a comfort to me as my family’s connection to the island is vital and goes back many generations.  I married a Sicilian, a distant cousin in a strange…

Words from Sicily: Disorientation

The mountainous landscape in Sicily persistently challenges me. The boundless slopes disorient me; they dominate the horizon. When I go hiking down steep hillsides, I am constantly holding on for dear life, grappling white-knuckled onto the flimsiest blade of grass in my reach. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve sprained my ankles or fallen’…

Words from Sicily: attracted to the details

I’ve mentioned many times how I’m often drawn to the little details that escape most people. Rather than being overwhelmed by a detailed artwork, building or historical site, I will take a step closer and try to break it down to see how it’s been made. I guess it’s the logical part of my mind…

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…

The one time I went to Etnaland

Every year a group from my small Sicilian town of Sinagra organises a pilgrimage to the Etnaland amusement park at Belpasso outside of Catania. In the summer months, the waterpark is open until the early evening, and the connected theme park rides are put into motion as the locals spend their evenings spinning, dipping and…

How history shapes Sicily’s character

  The weight of Sicily’s history makes it an inherently sad place, like all places with long human histories she laments her past glories which in turn give her a unique melancholy. Yes, Sicilia is defiantly as feminine as her beating heart, Etna. Sicily’s infinite stories shape her own sorrowful character which are absorbed into…

Sicilian Patron Saints

  Sicilian people have a unique rapport with religion and superstition which binds the two seemingly conflicting doctrines together. The connection between the two can be traced back to the struggle the early Catholic Church in Sicily had against pagan religions. The Roman Catholic Church always had a tremendous amount of power over Sicilian’s spiritual, cultural…

Drawn to Sicily

All Sicilians have this blinding obsessive love of there Sicilia which exists beyond any hardships, lack of education, lack of economic betterment or even famines which have occurred on the island, everyone holds onto their beloved Sicily despite everything. Of course until they were pushed away from their homeland when things on the island became…

Secluded Sicily: Raccuja’s ghosts

I live a few minutes drive from the hometown of my maternal grandparents who migrated to Australia in the 1950’s. Visiting Raccuja is like seeing ghosts pass before my eyes, it’s a strange visceral experience. I grew up hearing my grandparents stories and it is emotional to find myself passing upon their footsteps. Even if…

Blackbird days

It’s a bleak time of year here in the mountain villages of the Nebrodi. The intermittent rain and hail is interrupted by tiny specks of sunshine quickly smudged out by the billowing charcoal clouds. The chill makes me want to shut myself up inside. My lips are chapped and my hands are rough and sandpapery…