Sicilian Builders and their Bottoms

I have a mild dispute going on with my husband. He wants to get a sun-roof constructed over the open-air roof terrace, so we can have barbecues up there without getting slow-roasted in the sun before our food does, and developing skin cancer before lunch is over. I don’t. My reason is simple: it would…

The Arabic Cathedral of Monreale

Just outside Palermo, in the charming little town of Monreale, lies possibly the most beautiful – and certainly the most exotic – cathedral in Europe. Monreale Cathedral was built by King William II of Sicily in 1174. The architecture is Moorish Arabic, the interior is late Byzantine, and the layout is a fusion of Catholic…

The Villa of the Monsters in Bagheria

We have a very bizarre tourist attraction in our town. Villa Palagonia has been nicknamed the Villa of the Monsters locally for centuries. It is absolutely crammed with caricature stone sculptures of bizarre creatures, deformed little men, goblins, and ugly hybrid “manimals”. It was visited in the 18th century by multi-talented German writer, politician, lawyer and…

Do you iron your socks?

Sicilian housewives do. They iron all their towels and underpants as well, apparently. My mother-in-law, aka The Godmother, dropped in yesterday afternoon. Despite our tense relationship, we have found an uneasy truce, based on the fact that she finds ironing so relaxing she is willing to do mine when she has run out of her…

The Villa Romana Del Casale, Piazza Armerina

This post is about a UNESCO world heritage site in Sicily! Classy or what? There are altogether 44 UNESCO world heritage sites in Italy. The criteria are that World Heritage Sites can be “natural” or “cultural” places of general wonderfulness. That’s my handy summary of a long and tedious paragraph. Interestingly enough, the UK only…

Manna from Heaven? Or from Sicily?

This summer we went for a day trip to a town called Castelbuono. If you speak Italian you’ll know that this means “good castle”. The place is well named because there is a castle there, and it is pretty good actually. It’s medieval, huge, has a scary portcullis and a massive dungeon, a secret undergroud…

A Terrible Boob

After returning from our exciting trip to England, I have to admit this Summer has dragged somewhat. To break up the monotony of my little boy’s three-month school holidays, I used ice cream. Do you think I’m a bad mother? We’ve been to the beach and got sunburn, we’ve collected every size and shape of…

Questionnaire: How Sicilian are you?

I have been delighted over the summer to learn how many Sicilians are enjoying my blog. It seems those who live here, and the expats who have fled to the USA and other places, are equally happy to be mocked mercilessly. Some of them have indicated that they now straddle two cultures and feel nostalgic…