THE GODMOTHER of Sicily, and how to message her on the Auntienet

I’m excited to find, in mid-2013, that my blog is approaching 1,000 subscribers. I do hope you’re all enjoying it!

My readers come from exciting places all over the world. Their blogs are in many language and scripts, some of which I don’t recognise. I even have a subscriber called जागरण मिडिया सेन्टर, and I would love to know what this language is! Every time I get a new subscriber, I look at their blog, even if I cannot understand it. I wish I had time to properly follow all the blogs, but at least I feel we’re connecting into a friendly community, which I find very exciting.

I realise that I need to introduce my new friends to my mother-in-law, The Godmother, who features regularly in this blog. If I’m honest, she’s actually the star of this blog. She is also a major hub of the Auntienet. Old women in Sicily don’t need Internet connections like Twitter or Facebook or any of that nonsense. They have had the Auntienet for generations.

The Auntienet is a network of elderly female relatives and godmothers, which can convey interesting or scandalous information in “real time”. Sicilian children dare not swear in public or pat dirty stray dogs, as The Godmothers Are Watching and their parents will already have devised a punishment before they can get home. The Auntienet is social networking with spanking power.


Anyway, without further ado, let me present my mother-in-law and some of the other main routers and switches of the Auntienet.


Likes: Making children eat more than their body weight in food before she lets them leave the table

Dislikes: Priests who make mass last less than three hours

Special skill: Stuffing a chicken inside a turkey inside a lamb and roasting it on a spit

My mother-in-law is a fairly typical Sicilian woman of the older generation. She goes to church twice on Sundays and is godmother to seven children: The Godmother. Her mansize nose is usually poked deeply into other people’s busines whilst her mansize hands are usually busy flaying and massacring vegetables, scrubbing household objects to the brink of oblivion, or twirling rosary beads. They can also spank naughty children, or even a fully grown man, into geostationary orbit when necessary.

(Please note, to avoid risk of divorce I hired a model to pose for this photograph. I think I am safe because my husband only speaks broken English mixed with German, French and Expletive, and the only English word that The Godmother knows is “cuppatino”, which is a cappucino made using a teabag instead of coffee.)


Likes: Scrubbing children’s faces clean with a technique called “dermabrasion”

Dislikes: People who say “hello” to her when she is studying them from behind her net curtains

Special skill: Hanging her laundry up from a washing line strung between her window shutters and a nearby lamppost

Signora Anna lives in the flat downstairs from the Godmother’s, and they have some special means of communication so rapid it probably relies on telepathy.


Likes: Indoctrinating children in the ways of the Lord

Dislikes: People who say they are on a diet

Special skill: Hoisting loaves of bread up three storeys using a basket tied to twenty metres of rope dangling from her kitchen balcony

By the way, please note that Signora Maria just put on fancy dress to pose for the photo. She normally wears cerise, sequinned velour tracksuits and golden trainers, like Britney Spears when she was fat. It’s a total myth that old Sicilian women wear black all the time. They only wear it when they’re trying to look sexy.

Well, there you have it, a sampling of the good Godmothers of Sicily! God bless them, and long may they live to make sure the kids are brought up properly!




31 Comments Add yours

  1. Pecora Nera says:

    Very funny,

    I have a Zia in Syracusa who uses the basket on the end of 20 metres of rope, she lives 4 floors up. But she does not wear black 🙂


  2. Pecora Nera says:

    Ooohh congrats on the 1000 followers 🙂 and good luck in the UK


  3. This is highly entertaining! Great reading!


  4. Diane C says:

    That name is written in either Punjabi or hindi. This is one of your bestposts yet. Had me giggling over my breakfast.


  5. Marcella says:

    Auguri on the baby & good thoughts for your mom!
    The network exists… As an adult I walked to the edge of town to buy an Italian playboy magazine for my american husband. As I walked into the house my aunt wanted to know how I could shame them so…. Sigh
    The hoisting bread in a basket is a special skill & should not be attempted by foreigners


    1. Rosaria in South Florida says:

      And you’ll probably be reminded of your infraction for the rest of your life. After 46 years my mom is still grousing about my having brought shame to her by riding public transportation in Palermo. It was the late 1960’s and I was in my early twenties and had no idea that I needed a chaperon to ride a bus. Holy hell broke loose and I was not without an entourage wherever I went.


      1. Oh my goodness! Thank heavens Sicily has finally changed a bit (even though it still has a way to go!!!)


  6. Expat Eye says:

    Congrats on getting 1000 followers! Exciting! They have a similar thing to the Auntienet in rural Ireland. You could call it the curtain-twitcher network I guess 😉


  7. abu zar says:

    जागरण मिडिया सेन्टर –> Jagran Media Centre
    the language is hindi (Indian)


    1. Thank you!
      Looking forward to seeing the photos of Italy on your blog soon….and I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip. Can you drop me an email when they’re up? Or maybe a link here so others can find them too?


      1. abu zar says:

        the Italy trip was almost a dream trip..thank you so very much, again, for all your recommendations and specific inputs that helped with planning !

        I haven’t got a chance to run through the photos as we are still on vacation, enjoying the heat, the monsoon and power cuts in India, with very and flimsy and medieval net connectivity. I will definitely share the pics as soon as I get a chance to upload them.


  8. ottominuti says:

    Congrats on the growing audience, you deserve it! I loved the fat Britney Spears attire description! Have a wonderful holiday!


  9. I love, love, love your blog! I wish you pleasant holdiday, good health to your mother and all the luck in the world for the new baby girl! 🙂


    1. Thank you! She is SOOOOO gorgeous!!!


  10. Diane C says:

    Reblogged this on My Sicilian Home and commented:
    A couple of posts back, I told the story of the chicken dinner. It seems we were the subject of the “Auntienet”. Enjoy this post from the Dangerously Truthful Diary…


  11. Just love the Godmothers. I grew up with a few of them myself in America. We called them Commares. Enjoy your holiday. Love your posts.
    If you have a moment, view my trailer:for my novel: Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing


    1. I looked at the trailer – very moving.


  12. I Looooooooved this post, it’s a real howler! All the best for the time out with family back in Blighty, and hope to see you back on line soon!


  13. redcactus says:

    I guess all Italian grannies seem to think that children are to be stuffed (and baked, in some instances) 🙂
    Great post!


  14. jules says:

    Perfecto – except the bit about back dresses….
    When I have more time i’ll tell you the rules of The Sicilian Code, for how long you have to wear it, dependent on who has died, and the exceptional circumstanes when you can return to normal dress out of respect on who who has deceased, and your relationship connection to them – sometimes very special events allow a quickchange of colour, but some have to return to black until they die- obviously this is a different generation, but respected throughout Sicily, of the generations and offspring, who remember Sicily became independent before Italy, after WW2… You are lucky to be on hol, I’m nearly there…
    best wishes


    1. That’s interesting about the wearing black – another east-west divide I suppose. In Palermo I’ve (unfortunately) been to a lot of funerals, and even the immediate family were not wearing black. I was very surprised about that!
      Though there are still just a few old women who wear black for the rest of their lives once widowed. It seems to have become a question of personal choice.
      I am enjoying England! Lovely weather!


  15. They are wonderful! Remind me very much of The Lawyer’s Greek YiaYias (grannies).


  16. beba says:

    Enjoy your much-deserved time in the UK. Hope all goes very well with your Mom’s surgery. We all look forward to your return to Sicily, however, because that is where the real fun lies!

    And kudos to the meddlesome, village aunties who won’t let sleeping dogs lie or lying children sleep! It does “take a village to raise a child” (African proverb?), and now we know those villages are still quite active – in Sicily! I know some kids who could use more scrutiny. Hmm.


  17. Our Adventure in Croatia says:

    LOL great post!!!!! I was in stitches. Signora Anna is the best. hope all is well with family in UK .


  18. Very funny, though they sound impossible to live with. My neighbour is like Signora Anna, always nosing throughout the curtains but horrified if you greet her (which I make a point of doing now).


  19. Angela says:

    LOVE your blog…love this post! I have a French Auntie network…utterly ferocious! My French grandmother-in-law and French mother-in-law know more about my life than I do…luckily, I now live in Iowa, with only the occasional visit to make it through. There’s nothing more entertaining…and disturbing, than the matinal ritual cafe meeting among the retired “commeres” of the village. The favorite topic; one’s daughter-in-law and her failings. I do not even dare wonder what they talk about when I’m not there!!!


    1. Oh my goodnes, I didn’t realise they were so scary in France as well!
      Good for you escaping back to America. 🙂
      I’ve been plotting my escape to England for years now….


  20. cutekumquat says:

    Hey, I at first thought जागरण मिडिया was in Bengali but looked a bit closer and thought it seemed more like Hindi. So when I was in Queens (NYC) I asked this woman I know from India, and apparently it’s pronounced “jagran media”. So now you know!


  21. ScorpionGlow says:

    This cracked me up!


  22. Chiara Oeser says:

    Hi I was just wondering what the Godmother uses for warding off illness? I read your post about the evil eye and it took me back to my childhood at my nonna’s house in Australia and all her superstitions.
    I have a very ill friend and wondering what I can take into the hospital to help her like the pendants and things for the evil eye. Please if you could email me I would be forever grateful as all of that generation of my family (nonna, nonno, biz zia and zio’s) have all past on so I have noone left to ask.


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