Ten ways to tell you’ve been living in Sicily too long

1. You wear an anorak when it is 25 degrees centigrade and you don’t even feel hot.

2. You sometimes give your child an octopus to eat for dinner.

3. Whenever you get in a draught you just KNOW you will have a cervicale the next day. This is an exclusively Italian type of headache caused by draughts, being a woman, and being over thirty. To suffer from cervicale you have to fulfil all three conditions.

4. You park diagonally on zebra crossings, half up the pavement, in front of the police station. If a policeman tells you off, you ask him what’s his problem?

5. Most of your clothes have sequins or diamante on them because it’s so hard to find anything in the shops without them. This problem even seems to afflict the men.

Office shirt for Sicilian men?

6. You do your supermarket shopping in high heels, a necklace, and of course sequins.

7. You are not remotely surprised when you happen to bump into an acquaintance in the street and he gives you an armful of broccoli from his garden, or possibly a bottle of his own home-made olive oil.

8. You drive with one hand permanently resting on the horn, ready to hoot at all the pedestrians and vehicles which will spring in front of you.

9. You feel guilty about not ironing your husband’s jeans, socks and white vests. (In extreme cases, maybe you do iron them?)

10. When you go back home you find the coffee undrinkable. And you sneer at the olive oil. But the tea is a real treat.

"It's the taste!"
“It’s the taste!”

27 Comments Add yours

  1. dorsetdaze says:

    Brilliant. Spot-on!


  2. pecora nera says:

    I am married to a Sicilian and I have found octopus on my dinner plate, when I was expecting roast beef, mash potatoes and carrots. I refuse to eat the black squid spaghetti, the only Black food I will eat is burnt sausages.


    1. Ah yes! I remember your ink and tentacle aversion 🙂
      We had squid for dinner last night (six squids, if I dare say it) and my son complained that there was not enough black ink coming out of his.

      Meanwhile I think I have had a worse experience than you: I decided to do a roast dinner with all the trimmings, and my husband insisted on having a giant octopus on the menu AS WELL, so it ended up nestling in among the roast spuds and dangling its tentacles into the gravy boat. I have never been able to fully relax over a roast dinner ever since, for fear of what might turn up.


      1. pecora nera says:

        No no no, not Sunday Dinner Yorkshire puddings and an octopus in the gravy boat.

        I think I would need years of therapy if Mrs Sensible did it to me


  3. Giusto! I love your writing. Alas, I have no fancy sequined costumes.


    1. Karen Jones says:

      Haha very well observed! We came back from a friends yesterday with 2 grape fruits, a piece of home made bread and a vegetable and chicken panino!


      1. Buon appetito! 😀


  4. Just for interest – if you’re a woman (and only if you’re a woman), does sitting on the bare ground also instantly rouse some dreadful malaise? Even if the ground is in full sunshine and has heated up to above your actual body temperature?


    1. Gosh, an interesting conundrum.
      I’ve never been warned against doing that in Siicly, but I must say the teachers at my school were simply obsessed with stopping us from sitting on the heaters or perching on the radiators, always rushing (with apparent pleasure) to tell us it would give us piles. Sitting on anything too hot or too cold caused piles, apparently.
      Could this be the English answer to the cervicale?
      Have you ever been banned from resting your nether regions on the ground?


      1. It was frowned upon in Bavaria when I grew up, particularly sitting on cold surfaces, like stone steps. It was meant to cause cystitis,I believe, which I’d never experienced until twenty years later in the UK, caused not by a nefariously chilly surface, but antibiotics. I remember Polly discussing this urban medical myth on her blog once, and it’s the same in Russia.


      2. If we start with cystitis from sitting on the ground, piles from sitting on heaters, cervicale from draughts and – my personal Sicilian favourite – obesity being caused by taking vitamin pills, I think we could make a pretty impressive list of medical urban myths!


  5. You make me laugh as usual 🙂 I had heard about the cervicale, and seen many of these things when I was visiting Sicily. With the regards to the octopus, is it a whole octopus? I ate a one kilo calamari in Sicily in a restaurant (I swear I thought it was only half a kilo) and was sooooo sleepy afterwards…


    1. Well, most of the octopuses (I think I should say octopi but that sounds strange) our local fishermen catch are quite small and, yes, my son is very happy to eat the whole thing!
      I don’t know how he would react to a kilo of calamari, though. Congratulations on your valiant performance! I am not surprised you had to sleep it off afterwards! 🙂


      1. Yes, when the bill arrived, it was the price of a full 1kilo. So I queried it, and the waiter pointed out that indeed, I had just eaten a full kilo 🙂 (it was big…)


  6. Patricia says:



  7. T. Franke says:

    Living in paradise requires some sacrifice … 🙂


  8. ann mccabe says:

    you made me laugh as usual and want to go to Sicily again.


    1. I still laugh about the time you and hubby had my little lad out on the balcony and both agreed it was time to come in: only once safely indoors did we realise that hubby wanted to come in because he thought it was too cold, whereas you wanted to withdraw because you were worried about sunburn!


  9. beba says:

    My Sicilian grandmother and her daughter (my mother) both had a great fear of drafts (draughts). They were always bundling themselves and us kids up to protect from drafts, especially our necks (cervical area, cervicale!). This was, of course, an uphill battle in Chicago – famously known as “the windy city”.


    1. I’ve heard about the wind of Chicago….. I am surprised they ever risked leaving the house at all!!!!!


  10. Bumblebee says:

    Wow, you are wooing me to Sicily for sure! It sounds fascinating!! Sarah


  11. I’ve only been to Sicily once, but I suspect you are absolutely correct in your observations! Well done:)


  12. I had a long conversation with of of PF’s students about cervicale – he is a Palermo boy, and always had a scarf around his neck. Feeling guilty about not ironing socks? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I only iron shirts and tablecloths, and I only do that after I’ve been threatened with repudiation.


    1. I actually never iron anything at all. That is why I feel so guilty.
      I keep the proper tablecloths hidden neat and clean in the cupboard and have a wipey plastic tablecloth thing on the table instead. I hide hubby’s shirts in one end of the wardrobe and sooner or later I get a cold or something and my magnificent mother in law comes over to help out, and irons the whole lot for me.


      1. I feel better. I hope your hubby has a good stock of shirts, though:-) My mother in law never did any of my ironing for me; must be a Sicilian thing 🙂


  13. ramblinann says:

    Oh octopus on Christmas Eve is a very special memory for me. It may not be the same as what you get in Sicily and it is only available around here at Christmas. Still a great memory of my dad.


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