What do Sicilians Look Like? Let’s dig into the DNA

What colour are Sicilians?

This seems to be the most controversial and provocative question one could possibly ask in relation to Sicily.

I receive a regular stream of distressed or outraged comments from people who cannot bear it when I mention that Sicilian skin spans a range of many tones. They are always Americans with Sicilian grandparents or great grandparents, rather than people who live in Sicily.

Some of them actually send me photos of Sicilians to “show me how white Sicilians are”. This is not necessary because I have lived in Sicily for eleven years. I see Sicilians wherever I go. I even see one in my bed every night. Explaining that Sicilians are white is like explaining that the Queen is posh. Why would you feel the need to mention it?

Shocking prejudice

I realised why, when a Sicilian-American friend told me recently about the staggering prejudice she had experienced, growing up as an American with a Sicilian surname. My mouth literally hung open when she recounted what people had said and done to her.

Here in Sicily, the people – obviously – don’t experience any of that nonsense. They have no reason to re-write the narrative of their own history or heritage. They are proud of every part of it.

In Europe we consider all indigenous Europeans to be white people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of something else in you too. We’ve been invaded so many times we probably all do.

Early Sicily... prototype for a Benetton advertisement?
Early Sicily… prototype for a Benetton advertisement?

What’s in the Sicilian gene pool?

We had our family DNA tested a while ago. I wondered what would turn up from this list of the people who have invaded and/or settled in Sicily:

Three original tribes called Sicani, Elymians and Sicels.  They were the first arrivals after Sicily rose up out of the sea, and ancient writers thought they originated from Spain, mainland Italy and Greece.

Carthaginians (Carthage is now called Tunis). They were Phoenicians (from what is now Lebanon) mixed with a few North African Berbers.



Jews, who were the only ones to migrate to Sicily instead of invading. Nobody knows exactly when they came but they were here before the Moors invaded.

Moors from North Africa (they were an ethnic mix of Middle Eastern Arabs and North African tribes)

Vikings (otherwise known as Normans or Norsemen)

Vandals (a Germanic tribe)

Ostrogoths (from the Byzantine Empire)

Swabians from what is now South Germany

Angevins from what is now France

Aragonese from what is now Spain

More French and Spanish and also Austrians

Bourbon French

And finally, Mainland Italians.

As you can see, the gene pool is quite varied.


My Sicilian husband’s DNA

Firstly I want to say that connecting people’s DNA with geographic regions or races is in its infancy as a science, and has a certaintly level ranging from 50% to 80% – so it is speculative and far from certain.

It’s still fun to look into it, though.

My own DNA results were so boring it was hardly worth the money. They just said British British British British British British British, 0.1% Broadly North European, British.

The only exciting part was 0.1% African. Wherever did that come from? Being one-thousandth African suggests you had one African ancestor in early medieval times. The mind boggles.

The kiddo was a bit more exotic.

For Hubby, we got 81% Italian, a lot of “broadly southern European” and a little “broadly northern European” (this means they cannot work out exactly where it comes from), a little bit of Spanish and a little more French and German, about 4.4% Middle Eastern and North African, and about 1% west (sub-Saharan) African.

Why so much variety among Sicilians?

There are plenty of national and ethnic groups in the list of invaders which did not make an appearance in my husband, but which might be heavily concentrated in other Sicilians. Based on Sicilian people who have told me their DNA, the variety is immense. Some had as much as 24% Middle Eastern DNA in their report. Some were 20% German. One was nearly a quarter Greek.

I think this lack of homogeneity is because Sicilians have spent centuries marrying people from the same village. If a village or town was a Greek town 2,000 years ago, chances are it pretty much still is. If it was originally Moorish, it may still have a major spike in African and Middle Eastern DNA.

It’s only very recently that significant numbers of Sicilians have started marrying people from other towns and begun seriously mixing up the gene pool. It will take many generations before they achieve the homogeneity that mainland Italians now have. (As a result of the Roman Empire, Italy with its slave economy was very multi-ethnic 2,000 years ago.)

Origins in Africa

One particular gene called a haplotype can tell you, if you’re male, who you father’s father’s father’s father was, going exclusively through the male line back to when you were only just human. Women can go back directly through the femal ancestry.

In this male line, Hubby’s haplotype evolved 23,000 years ago in Eastern Africa and then one of his ancestors migrated, along with others of his tribe, into the Mediterranean region at some point.

Hubby’s haplotype is still most heavily concentrated in Eastern Africa around Ethiopia and Somalia, where almost 100% of the men carry it.

The tantalising thing about genetics is that we can never know if this African male ancestor turned up in Sicily during the Moorish invasion in about 1,000 A.D., or 22,000 years earlier than that.

So, what colour are Sicilians anyway?

Let’s go back to those Sicilian Americans and the question of what Sicilians look like. The short answer is that there’s no such thing as a typical-looking Sicilian. There’s just far too much variety. You get tall ones, short ones, sturdy ones, dainty ones, very dark ones and very pale ones and even a few gingernuts. There’s one boy in my village with platinum hair and freckles, who looks Swedish.

When Sicilians have a baby, the question on everyone’s lips is, what carnagione do they have? Carnagione means skin tone, and in Sicily, you never know what you’ll get. Dark like Nonna Pina? Blonde and green-eyed like Nonna Anna? Deep olive skin like uncle Danilo? I have a brother-in-law who is extremely dark but his son has platinum blonde hair and blue eyes.

Meanwhile the photos I am sent from America always look like Sicilians in winter. Of course Sicilians are pale in winter. But what about summer?

Most Sicilians spend as much of the summer as possible on the beach. I have never, ever seen a Sicilian buying or applying sunscreen; they just don’t need it. How dark they go is partly a result of their genes and mainly a direct measure of how much leisure time they get. Very white people get lots of pity and commiseration, whereas the dark ones attract slightly envious admiration.

I’ve seen Hubby looking the same colour as me, and I’ve seen him after a lot of time on a yacht looking, I swear, as dark as an African. Except for his buttocks, which were so white they glowed in the dark.

I expect his backside is his 2.5% German part.


Feel free to say anything you like about this post but, if your comments are rude to me, or to anyone, or ranting, or designed to provoke, I will not publish them.

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302 Comments Add yours

  1. Ian Senior-morrison says:

    Its wonderful to see that the post has not been removed as the previous two were. On the question of gene pools, race and phenotype, a rule of thumb to follow is. The closer a population is to the Arabized North Africa, the more that population has in common with these Arabized peoples. It’s always been so; a matter of geographic proximity, not foreign input .So Sicilians and indigenous Grenada Spaniads are very similar to their North African neighbors. As one goes north, in the case of Italy, to what was once the ‘other Sicily’, people would have a lot in common phenotypically with Greek Cypriots, Syrian -Lebanese and post Helenic types. North of these parameters, A distinctive Alpine /central European phenotype is usually discernible. Around Rome however one might well expect inputs to the gene pool from all over the regions that constituted the Roman Empire.


    1. Donna Giardina says:

      My Sicilian grandparents immigrated to Ellis Island probably around 1910-1012. Thank God they were not made to change their name like Guy Feirri’s grandfather was made to do. Glad Guy took the name back. My grandparents came with the Sponsoring of my grandmothers brother in PA. It was an arranged marriage, they married and then came to live in MD. For years I believed I was Italian. Then I was told my grandfather was a wine maker and barrel maker for the wine in Cefalu, Sicily. I have his tools passed down to me. Yes I was also called names but took it as my father being made fun of. My grandmother could not speak English as my grandfather could. I only new my grandmother, grandfather passed at 67, she at 84. I’m proud to be Sicilian and don’t care about my DNA except my mother was mixed, German, Irish and American Indian I was told. I have a issue with the German part, as I know what the Germans did to the Jews. So I will remain believing I’m Sicilian and leave it at that. My Dad didn’t have much education, but he left my mother a bankful when he passed. Some people never acquire that much with a couple degrees. Thank you for your article that I stumbled onto. A proud Sicilian American. Ciao. Donna Giardina

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Anonymous says:

        All 4 grandparents come from the same town in Sicily..we all look different..some very white/blonde and some Olive/brunette…sicily was Invaded by 19 different cultures..I have not done a dna test because it doesn’t matter..my grandparents were awesome people..thats what matters

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rob DiPaula says:

        That’s awesome!!! My father’s entire side is from Sicily!!! My Grandfather’s family is from Cefalu and my Grandmother’s family is from Palermo!!! 👍😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Anonymous says:

        My 4 grandparents are from Vizzini, a province of Catania


      4. foxxifrog says:

        I enjoyed your article about Sicilian DNA. I just found out my grandpa is Sicilian on my dad’s side and my mother’s side is Icelandic. Haha so i am one of the blonde hair hazel eyed white yet i tan to perfection people. My entire family have dark brown hair and brown eyes except my dad who has hazel eyes. They have beautiful olive skin and tan extremely dark. I always thought i was the mailmans baby but your article helped clear up we are all different shades and all the same too. 👌

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Darlene says:

        I loved hearing the story about Sicily and Sicilians, thank you. I don’t know much about my ancestors but know my grandparents (paternal and maternal) were Sicilian, I’ve always said I was Italian until my grandfather corrected me one day and said, “No, you are Sicilian”! Oops, sorry gramps. But he was born in or around Palermo and was very proud of his heritage as am I!


      6. A J says:

        You can be proud of being German too. There is more to German heritage than WWII, and it definitely doesn’t have anything to do with you. Your ancestors’ wrongs are THEIR wrongs. If someone looks down on you for what one of your ancestors did, they are in the wrong, not you.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Anonymous says:

      I am proud to be half Sicilian, and enjoed this post emensily!

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Tony Venuti says:

      anyone have a Sicilian mate with warm/hot to the touch….like real warm.

      My Father was like that, I am..according to my Pamela

      My nephew’s wife experiences that with him.


      1. VDG says:

        Ha haaa!
        This sounds like my son. When he was little and wanted to get in bed with me, it was like having a hot water bottle!


      2. Alexis Schiffer says:

        My mom roots are in Sicily (and Calabria too) while my dad is Ashkenazi Jewish (from Germany) and many people have always told me how my mother is much more “warmer” then my dad LOL! 🙂

        I also agree with your bottom comment though. “White” and “black” aren’t colors. And no one is actually “white” or “black” in skin color. And their are people with all kinds of skin tones all over the world. You add in other labels like “Asian” and “Arab” (which denote people from vast and diverse areas) and It’s all really just a front to divide everyone even further.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Nina says:

    I am half Sicilian, according to my dna test, from my father’s side. I agree with you about the variety of Sicilian coloring. My dad looked Arab (his parents came from the western side of the island from Campobello di Mazara) with olive skin and black hair, but his father had fair skin, blond hair and hazel eyes. His nickname growing up was “Tedescho”, the German. My dad looked like his mother, and I look like her, but my skin is fair. My dna covered every possible area all around the Mediterranean, so you never know what the next generation will look like as the genes make their own mix. My son looks exactly like my dad, but with ivory skin, and my daughter looks exactly like her paternal grandmother who was born in Rome. And even though my mother was a blend of Northern European (German, Irish, Scottish, etc.) None of us (my siblings nor my kids) look like that particular blend. You just never know. By-the-way, I was never hassled in my life about being Sicilian, except for the occasional Mafia remark, and I’m nearly 70 years old. I have always been proud of all my heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. RoseMarie says:

    This was a very interesting article…and yes it is very well known that Sicilians are totally a mixed breed due to all the invasions over the centuries…I’m very proud to be an American of Sicilian/Calabrian descent…one more thing to ponder is this….is anyone aware of the old Southern Italian custom if a woman is widowed at an early age…if her husband had a brother who is still single, she would have to either marry him or go back to her mother in laws house to live…this was very shocking to hear…as it happened to my maternal grandmother…which was the best kept family secret…she had gotten married to my grandfather as a widow with one child, as she had previously married his younger brother who died at age 30…she had a child after marriage to my grandfather (who was my mother)…and then she died at the age of 28..when my mother was a year old….the story gets better…less than a year later my grandfather marries her cousin!!….I found out all of this thru geneology research long after all had passed on…it was explained that in those times, they wanted everything kept “in the family”….unbelievable..RoseMarie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Anita Fontana says:

      My 4 grandparents are from Vizzini..I can explain to you why they did that…when a girl gets married her family gives a dowery..can be $$ but also a donkey or two .she now becomes dependant of her husband and his family..also she has little chance to get married again because she is not a virgin…so the brother takes responsibility for her…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. VDG says:

      This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest as it’s still very common in Sicily to marry cousins, though finally dying out at least in the larger cities. I had a very dear friend who had dated the love of her life as a young girl, but had been separated from him as his mother forced him to marry one of his cousins.
      My friend said she might have been able to accept it a little if the girl had been pretty or clever, but she never passed an exam in her life and “looked like a mattress”.
      I also had the hilarious experience, when being admitted to hospital for the birth of my son, of being asked by a doctor if my husband was my first or second cousin. I laughed so hard I nearly fell off my trolley, till Hubby said his parents were cousins. That was the first I’d heard of it!


    3. This practice is more than likely taken from Leviticus and Deuteronomy in the Bible. Was the family of Jewish ancestry?


      1. VDG says:

        No. It used to be very common throughout Sicily, among the Catholic families. It was also common throughout the Middle East as far as I know, and was extremely common in North Africa too in the past.


    4. archer61 says:

      Yet in my family there was a huge scandal when one cousin decided to marry another cousin! And when my great-uncle wondered whether my sister would marry his son, my parents went berserk! It may not be all over Sicily – definitely not in our village. I do know however that it is common in the Middle East – very common.


      1. VDG says:

        I suppose this goes to show how varied attitudes are, maybe by village, maybe even by family.
        I also think that when cultural attitudes are evolving, some families change faster than others.
        Thank you for sharing your family’s story – it’s always interesting to hear from different people to get a fuller picture and better insight.


    5. Melanie says:

      I am not shocked. Many Sicilians were actually Jewish before the Inquisition when they were forced out of Sicily or converted (conversos). Marrying the brother of your husband, once widowed, is a Biblical law in the Old Testament.


  4. Pinstripe says:

    This article is one of the only true and respectful threads I’ve seen written about Sicilians/Italian Americans. I’ve had identity issues a lot in my life about where I belonged, Looking for answers I found a lot of white supremacy forums basically obsessing on Sicilian dna makeup. I hate that I had to see that. Im 17 and because I’m a guy I can see both maternal and paternal lines on the 23andme kit I got for my birthday. Both my parents already did it. My dad is mostly British. My mom is 60% Italian and broadly Southern European, the rest is a mix of North African, Egyptian, Asian, and a bit Sub Saharan African. My mothers father is a dark skinned 100% Sicilian. He and I both tan very easily. He is dead sadly, so we can’t see his results, but my mothers brother also is a very tan Sicilian. Both my mothers parents were 100% Sicilian; and my grandparent’s parents came to America in the early 1900s right before they were born. I am not going to mention my fathers side of the family since I’m focusing on the Sicilian side. My grandmother and mother are not very tan at all, but my grandfather and uncle are. My family on my mothers side is so Sicilian it has relatives who’s surname is an actual crime family that does not operate anymore. Here’s my main frustration: Sicilians are always lumped in with Italians, and Italians are lumped in with northern Italians, and then lumped in with Europeans. In the state I live it is very politically extreme, White people are considered bad, even white kids say “I ****ing hate white people” and my problem was when I was called white. I was called white before and I didn’t care. Hell, I wanted to be whiter when I was a little kid. I envied my paler cousins. Italian culture is very similar to Hispanic and Black culture, like solid family values. I had long hair growing up and putting it in a pony tail was so thick you couldn’t even feel your other finger when you pinched it. My moms hair is super thin, and so is my dads. I don’t understand. People have actually asked if I was adopted once. I am constantly mistaken for being Latino or in rare cases, half black. My cousins are mostly whiter than me, they were jealous of me going outside for five minutes and getting more tan than they did all day. The only cousin that resembles my skin tone is part Native American and Mexican. And some distant cousins I rarely saw growing up. I just hate when Italians are generalized into one category when we’re a lot similar to Puerto Rican’s with having a massive gene pool. Hell, my Puerto Rican/Black girlfriend and I shared facial features. There are even ignorant articles on the Washington Post saying “Italians were always white” which just isn’t true. I understand the oldies deny having any black dna, but it’s a proven scientific fact that people blatantly ignore. People choose when to call me white and when to call me brown to make their argument that I’m racist or who was to blame for smoking weed. It pisses me off. I got a bad rep. Most my friends are Mexican, black, or middle eastern. I used to make off color jokes in the name of comedy and for the most part my friends defended me. There are plenty of documented lynchings of Italian Americans because they weren’t found guilty of crimes they didn’t commit. And people assumed a lot of innocent Italian men were gang members when they weren’t. Sound familiar? Our #1 slur is based on an African country just like the n word, “guinea”. And I’ve heard a lot of people throw that word around in a racial context acceptably. In reality Sicilians are a mixed race. Asian DNA is common, and North African/Egyptian DNA is almost always there, sometimes over 25%. we don’t get any validation for any of that. Dark skinned Sicilians had to write “black” on the census until the 40’s when the US declared middle eastern people and Italians to be “white”. Trying to find answers about my heritage led me to a lot of nasty comments about Sicilians. Hispanic/latino countries, all get social validation, middle eastern countries, yep. But who cares about Sicily, right? Literally if we spoke Spanish we’d be “non-white” In America everything is about race and I couldn’t avoid it. I’ve had a lot of identity issues and if anyone here has had the same issues I recommend sharing your story too. Too different from white people but not enough to be accepted as a minority. I felt stuck in between the lines my whole life, skimmed over and never seen. Thank god for the most part I’m accepted, it’s just the times a close friend assumes that I haven’t experienced racism or Italians in general never did. To clarify in my opinion northern Italians aren’t even Italian cus they hated Sicilians so much historically.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anonymous says:

      Your story is literally almost identical to mine it’s not even funny. I’m the same situation my moms whole family is italian(calabrian/Neapolitan) and my dad is British/Irish/ little Eastern European. People only occasionally treat me as white, but most of the time they don’t. I did 23andme and found out I was about 12% middle eastern, and little amounts of sub Saharan African and East Asian. Literally everything you said was me. I can sometimes pass as maybe half black, or definitely Latino if I’m tanned, or I have my curly hair grown out. Calabrian DNA is almost identical to sicilians as they have a huge amount of middle eastern DNA. I’m always going through identity issues because I feel I don’t fit in to anywhere. White people domt treat me white, hispanics sometimes see me as white/don’t because I don’t speak Spanish. It’s funny because I’m darker than them. Everything you said i feel the exact same way, like 100%. My mom gets so defensive if I even bring up the fact that she’s part black or middle eastern, when it’s pretty obvious it’s there. She straightens her hair, never goes into the sun, and tries to sound extremely white at all times. I can’t blame her for how she was raised, but it seems lots of Italians were very white washed, which breaks my heart. On top of that she married a white guy and had me and I still don’t even look white! That just shows how strong the Middle East/African gene pool is that Italians have. It’s not like Italians have a huge amount of sub Saharan blood, but it has been proven that it’s there in various amounts. Also it is everywhere in southern Italy, not just specifically Sicily. The middle eastern bloodlines are also very significant, I have cousins who are full Italian(Calabrian) who get up to 40% west asian(middle eastern) on 23andme. I’m just glad someone is in a similar situation as me and I hope there aren’t other out there as well like me.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Tony Venuti says:

        white, black…not even a color….a ruse….to separate, divide….easier to divide two “non colors” than over two dozen ACTUAL identities….

        Look at a DNA report…no mention of white or black…nor gray…a global RUSE…”globalism”..

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Alexis Schiffer says:

      HI! I’ve mentioned it several times but my dad is Asheknazi jewish and my mom’s Southern italian (Sicilian and Calabrian roots). My dna test showed that I’m about half Ashkenazi Jewish and the other half is a mix of Italian/Southern European and North African/West Asian (Middle Eastern).

      I am very brown skinned. I have full lips, curly hair and big, brown almond eyes. Most people don’t “know” that I’m “white” until I say my ancestry and then they call me a “white girl with a tan”, even if I look at myself and I wouldn’t describe myself as being “white”. I don’t really care about what my “race” is. I am who I am and ancestry wise, I am very “mixed” like basically everyone else.

      Many of my Fathers Jewish ancestors weren’t considered “white”, obviously not by the Nazis and according to my grandparents and great grandparents, people in America and Europe have called them “swarthy” and “other”. A similar story happened to my mothers darker skinned grandparents/relatives when they arrived in English speaking countries. It’s silly. The idea of “whiteness” is silly because any “race” or ethnicity can have light and dark skin and everyone is so diverse in looks that you can’t put people in boxes. But sadly, it is what it is


    3. Domanique says:

      I get you, I’m 23 and went through the same thing. I’m from Jersey and grew up with mostly carribean kids. Im Sicilian from both parents. My dad was born in Lercada Friddi, Palermo and my mom’s parents are from Cammarata and San Giovanni Gemini, Agrigento. I have light skin that tans easily, hazel eyes, and brown hair and I always get mistaken for Puerto Rican in the clubs, half Dominican and half spaniard, or even half white and half black when my hair left curly and smooth the frizz. My youngest sister has hair like me but darker skin and my middle brother and sister have curlier jet black hair and more ethnic noses and Fuller lips than me. They are beautiful! Anyway I’m always spoken to in Spanish and I even know Spanish now because I’m always mistaken for it on the street. I speak fluent Italian and Sicilian too. So once I tell someone I’m actually Sicilian they start making white girl jokes which makes no sense to me. I grew up in Elizabeth and newark, I barely even see northern Europeans and when I do I’m usually in shock by the way they sound like people on tv. I don’t dress like them or look like them but the second I tell people I’m Sicilian they change with me sometimes. When hispanics they think I’m Hispanic, they are usually friendly to me until I tell them and then they seemed to exclude me alot in school. This happened though mostly with south Americans, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, and Haitians usually don’t change up with me and still accept me. West Africans and middle eastern people get along with me as well. But once I meet an Irish or polish person, they usually act stuck up. I did take the 23andme test and I got back 82% southern Italian, 2% Greek and Balkan, the rest was a little Sudan and South Sudan which is east African and then all West Asian and north African, which is middle eastern. It mentioned Lebanese, Mesopotamian lol, and Egyptian especially.


  5. soccermom0920 says:

    This article really hit home for me! My father’s parents are from Palermo and Naples. I was always amazed at how fair my dads skin was in the winter (still had brown eyes, dark hair and eyes brows) with an olive undertone, and could get SO DARK in the summer. He never wore sunscreen and his arms compared to his stomach, looked like 2 different people. You story was fun to read and make a connection with.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. 😀


  6. Alexis Schiffer says:

    Hi! Your article was an interesting read. But I want to say that it is foolish to assume that “every” ethnic/”Native” European sees themselves as “white”. The concept of “whiteness” and “race” is a social construct that was masde specifically to put certain ethnic groups down and divide everyone even further then just Nationalistic/Cultural/linguistic background. I have met Europeans who look at their skin and call themselves “brown” not “white”. I’ve met Southern Italians who saw their DNA tests (and scored a lot of West Asian/Middle Eastern and North African dna) and while they viewed themselves as being “European” also see themselves as being “mixed” in ancestry. I have Jewish friends who don’t view themselves as “white”, despite “looking” it and have told me stories about how their ancestors weren’t seen as “white” either.

    I am of German Jewish and Calabrian/Sicilian ancestry, living in New York right now but grew up in London and spent some of my years in Berlin, Paris and Rome. My Jewish ancestors have been living in Europe for a LONG time and although they can vary in looks, with some looking very “Semitic”, and others looking “Nordic” There were times in History when people didn’t see them as “White” and as “inferior”. The Nazis in WW 2 sure as hell didn’t see my paternal Jewish ancestors as being “white”. And for a while European Jews were considered “West Asian” in the American census until recent decades. There were many instances in history where Europeans did view Europran Jews as being “other”.

    The problem is “White” skin color is for many, synonymous with people of European ancestry but that is not true. no one ever mentions about how many East Asians have pale “white” skin.

    And for some reason, if you have very olive skin and are of European heritage, you can never be called “brown”. I have a teacher from Southern Italy. She has very curly hair and brown skin. Though for some reason no one calls her “brown”.. she gets described as a “tanned white girl” even though she’s darker then so many “non-white” people I know.

    The concept of “race” is nonsensical and silly. For example: Many people say that “Asian” is a “race” but we are taught that Asia is a continent and Middle Easterners are Asian, They are “West Asian”. but for some reason many people don’t consider them “Asian”. In some countries like the USA census, they are actually considered “White people” but we’re also taught that “Asians” aren’t “White” so what’s the truth? “White” people are suppose to be “Caucasian” but the “correct” “racial” terminology literally has the world “Asian” in it.


    1. VDG says:

      I think you are seeing this through a US filter.
      I still remember a group of Spanish friends coming back from a study course in America and telling me they had fill in an ethnicity form. They checked “white European” and were then gobsmacked to notice further down a box saying “Hispanic/Spanish origin”. Why did they have a separate box just for one country? they asked, and were told they could check that one as well if they wanted to. Eventually they decided they were white Europeans and Americans just complicate things needlessly.

      I agree with you that the way we categorise races is just a cultural convention and quite pointless. It’s clearly done at random, since different cultures divide races differently.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Josh at FoundationsOfIron says:

        The thing to understand about “Hispanic” is that in US usage, the word does *not* only refer to Spain, but instead to any and all Spanish-speaking countries and cultures, with Spain itself probably being rather far down the list.

        So “Hispanic/Latino” is included as a separate ethno-cultural category to include people from all over Central and South America (and also Spain), who may also happen to fit into one of the other racial categories, or who may *not* neatly fit into the racial categories generally conceptualized by Americans.


  7. lukewilson2005 says:

    I am about 40% Sicilian and 60% N. European. I was born and raised in England and am basically considered a foreigner in my own country. White supremacy is still a big problem in Europe and I never realized just how bad it was until I started being called racial slurs, getting hostile stares and treated like I wasn’t even human, as an adult. It’s got much worst since brexit. In my last job I even had people doing Nazi salutes as they walked past. I get verbal abuse in the street as well.

    Race is a social construct, And it was invented to justify colonialism and the “inherent” superiority of Northern Europeans, who are some of the most violent peoples in history. You can categories people in anyway you want, and if you want to do it over height, skin tone, hair colour, eye colour, build, nationality, attractiveness then you can. But normally there is some agenda behind it.

    Don’t let the racists make you think you’re less than them. You might live in a country with inherent structural racism, but you don’t have to accept the premise, or play along with their fantasy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      I’m sorry I only just found your comment to approve – I don’t know why WordPress didn’t show it before.

      I was shocked and amazed to hear about the horrible xenophobic experiences you have had in England. This is just horrible and I hope it doesn’t go on very much. I’m relieved to say my husband and son haven’t experienced anything like this even in the the heart of Brexitland… though of course that doesn’t make it any better for you. As you say, there’s normally some other agenda behind such behaviour and above all, people who behave like this are saying a lot about themselves but nothing about the person they are trying to insult.


      1. Mona says:

        This hurt me reading this I am so so sory to read this.


    2. Tony Venuti says:

      tha’t’s “my line”….social construct…i.e. “Each to their own”…simply illustrates natural law….FAMILY familiar…all that good stuff….salute


  8. I am half Sicillian, my Mother was also born in Sicily. I loved my Grandparents, my Grandmother would kiss me on the mouth until i was about 14. My Grandfather had two Barbershops, and my Great Uncles were Shoemakers. I can burn in the sun, but if i am a little careful i can get pretty dark.


  9. I’m of Sicilian heritage. My father was adopted by his parents, but it said that he was Sicilian on his adoption papers. My skin is olive and my eyes are a hazel green, though sometimes blue. Not to mention that my hair is a little curly, all the features inherited from the man. I have yet to do a DNA test as those are expensive. However, I had to deal with racism when I moved to West Virginia due to the ignorance of the people in my area. I was called all kinds of slurs, ones meant for Hispanics from south of the border, ones meant for Iraqi people, and Arab (which is possibly accurate). I’ve even been called the N-word before. When I tried to explain that Sicilians were basically southern-Italians, no one believed me because the one guy who had an Italian last name was fair-skinned.

    Basically, I used to hate my skin. However, it’s part of who I am and I’m proud to be of Sicilian heritage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      You should always be proud of your heritage. Sicilians have given so much culture to the world and have so much to be proud of.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Mona says:

        DNA tests go on sale. There is a DNA day and prices last year were $79 with Ancestry and 23andMe. I could only imagine how living in WV is. My dad was born there and lived there for part of his childhood. I’ve been a few times with my parents. Try your best to ignore them ignorance is all I can say. Best of luck.


  10. Eric Vaughn Smith says:

    Mi Papa and his Brother emigrated to the US via the port of New Orleans after the 2nd Word War like many Sicilians and Southern Italians because the climate was identical. According to famiglia lore they were mixed Egyptian and Austrian, and I speak Sicilian, German and other European languages and have traveled the world and when in Sicily and Egypt I blend in! I also was fair when a kid and have darkened with decades of sun. The Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Spaniards and Dominicans accept me but also comment I look a little exotic? Sicilians and Calebrese accept my appearance whilst Egyptians on the streets of Aswan never solicit me to purchase souvenirs!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      I love the idea of having so many different nationalities that you can blend in with. 😀


  11. Stacil says:

    I wish I can show you pictures that I found but my mother she has kinky hair that I get Black people asking if my mom is mix and she Sicilian yet she very fair undertone but a lady with a shape of black lady and very tight wooly hair that I don’t really see with most white European lol but I have found very old picture on AncestryDNA some look kinda black and North African like. Very interesting. I always believe Sicilian got a little bit of African. No wonder we have a hot temper. Lol love being Sicilian. It’s beautiful and magical to me.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. joe says:

    Wife and I are mostly Sicilian. Her grandparents (both sides) were from Sicily. My grandparents (dad’s side) were from Sicily, my mom’s mother was Sicilian, but my mom’s dad was Barese. We took one of those DNA tests and found that she had a small percentage of Greek, a small percentage of North African, and mostly Italian. I had a small percentage of Balkan, smaller amounts of North African, Lebanese, and French, but mostly Italian.

    Interesting side note. My grandfather (dad’s side) came to this country in 1916 with his father and two of his siblings (the remainder of the family was still in Palermo because my great grandfather couldn’t afford to bring them all at once). They recorded his last name incorrectly and it is spelled that way today. It was only after my great grandfather had worked in mills for a few years that he was able to go back and bring the remainder of the family. Unfortunately the U.S. had placed a moratorium on immigrants, so my dad’s grandparents and remainder of the family were sent to Argentina instead. I’m wondering if any others reading this post had the same thing happen to their families?

    We did have a reunion in 1968 with our Argentine relatives, and it was so sweet to see my grandfather reunite with some of his younger brothers and sisters who were still alive that who he had not seen since his departure from Sicily.


    1. VDG says:

      I love your family reunion story. Although it’s so sad they were split up like that.
      I’m interested in the misspelt name too. That even happens within Sicily! My husband’s family are half called Di Grigoli and half called Di Gregoli because his great uncle’s birth certificate had a spelling mistake which named him differently from his brothers!!!


  13. ellie says:

    This is actually a great look at sicilian people. My dad’s grandparents were both sicilian and they are both very dark. Every person in our family where the sicily genes are the strongest have dark thick curly hair, dark skin, and very not stereo typically european features. When I did my DNA test turns out I am about 25% sicilian and 10% middle eastern (I inherited more genes from my father than mother) finding out that one of my great grandparents (or both) had one or both grandparents immigrate to sicily from Iran/turkey and then marry into the wonderful sicilian people. My cousin, who people often think is latino, married a sicilian girl who is not as dark as us but not light either. Both of their daughters are fair with blond hair. You can’t put an island with such a vast history into one group. Yes, there are white sicilians, but also there are sicilians who no one will ever think are white and face discrimination in america due to that. We are a great and beautiful people who are diverse in color and aesthetic appearance but still seem to have very similar core values which is really what matters.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Michelle Fiore-Berg says:

    This is a great article. I enjoyed reading it. I think the reason so many Italian-Americans want to know what Sicilians look like is they are hoping to find some similarities with themselves. I am a 3rd generation Italian-American. My grandparents moved here When they were young and I grew up hearing about the old country, learning about the food and the culture. Being Italian is very much a part of who I am and I think my grandparents would want it that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anita Fontana says:

      If your grandparents came from Sicily then you are 2nd generation italian-american just like me…I grew up being very close to my grandparents and they were incredible decent people..the traditions are still with me…I still make pizza dough just like my grandma…


  15. Trevor says:

    This short article perfectly describes my Sicilian heritage. I am split down the middle German and Sicilian. My wife is German, Sicilian and Hungarian. My wife and I have dark brown hair and brown eyes and yet my son has dark blonde/light brown hair and beautiful green/blue eyes. WHERE DID HIS EYES COME FROM! They are so greenish blue!! And fortunately both my children share the blessing of “no sun screen necessary” (though we do anyway, skin cancer is real people whether you burn or. It. )

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Antonio La Micela says:

    100% Sicilian I am… I’m 6’2”, 225lbs, brown hair, brown eyed, both my parents are blue eyed, light skinned as I am also but, can tan pretty dark, my parents can also… There both below 5’8”, my father had black hair in his early days, my mom, blonde… Both sets of grandparents came from Sicily, Catania to be exact… My dads dad, was blue eyed and stood at 5’4”… My point goes to show, as mentioned in this article, Sicilian’s, as in every other bloodline and background out there, are always stereotyped wrong… “Love the article”…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Michele Sammartano says:

    My Mother’s side is from Palermo and my father’s side is from Marsala.
    I always say I am Sicilian and sometimes Sicilian Italian American.
    I am proud of my heritage and dark skin. Whenever I have to fill out doctor papers and it ask if I’m Caucasian, African, Hispanic, Native American or Other, I always check Other and add Sicilian. Why is it that we don’t have our own check box? I also don’t consider myself white. I’m Sicilian! We are in a class all our own. Northern Italy says we aren’t real Italians. Sicilians are made up of Africans, Arabs, Greeks, etc. That’s what makes us so unique.
    All 4 of my Grandparent’s were from Sicily, yet my maternal great grandmother had 4 daughters, 2 very dark, and 2 white skinned, blond and blue eyed. (I wonder what my great Grandfather was secretly thinking!!) My grandmother was so blond and white, she was thought to be Albino by doctors.
    She wasn’t.


  18. Lisa Marie Campisi Mcfarland says:

    I as well stumbled across your article and thoroughly enjoyed it. My grandfather and his family were from Siracusa. Their name was changed when arriving in the U.S. Campisi to Campise. I have taken the original name back. They were shorter, olive skinned and had dark hair and eyes. I am a mix. Slavic, Sicilian and Dutch. You can tell I have the Sicilian skin tone in summer for sure. We researched the Campisi’s back to Israel and we found out they fled to Sicily in the 1600’s. Interesting! Thank you and caio!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Noel Sal says:

    “When Sicilians have a baby, the question on everyone’s lips is, what carnagione do they have? Carnagione means skin tone, and in Sicily, you never know what you’ll get” in mexico this also happens because we are a mix diferent native americans culture, europeans and africans, in a dna test I made recently the results said I was 28% Mediterranean islander (sicilian, cypriot and maltese) more than spanish (southwestern european 15%).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VDG says:

      I wonder how many other countries are like this too. There must be lots of places around the world where people are mixed like this. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Nicholas Cagnole says:

    Great article which I thoroughly enjoyed! Explains my Sicilian grandmother’s red hair and my lighter skin and green eyes. Who knew my Sicilian ancestors were Vikings! I am looking forward to sharing this with my parents. They will be thrilled!

    Thank you,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VDG says:

      I’m really glad you enjoyed it! 🙂


  21. A RODRIGUEZ-RICH says:

    BEAUTIFUL….no WONDER my Ethnicity has often been admirably questioned……BORICUAMORENA!


  22. Angelina Catucci says:

    I love this brings back memories as our family went from deathly pale to a beautiful deep tan all yr round ! My Great Great Grandfather Catucci left Italy mid 1860’s (62 now and hard to remember exact year ,Rome his father Titus was a professor at the college of Roma. I remember growing up my grand father who was USA born ,made a comment 1 time in front of me and grand ma changed the subject while looking at him wishing she was holding cast iron frying pan .Her hubby knew that look and he never brought it up again lol.They were talking about my dad and he said what do you expect he is Calabraze , now he also had a problem between the North and South the village he came from was somehow better then Guardia Sanframondi in Campania region where she came from , Me I saw 2 sets of grandparents who were 100% Italian that I loved dearly.My dads family came from Sinopoli in Sicily.And that was their last name as well.I will be visit to read this great blog after grandson goes home lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. VDG says:

      Ha haaa I love your anecdote about the Calabrese! This reminds me of lots of people in Sicily, who thought even someone from the next village couldn’t be trusted! LOL. 😂


  23. Anonymous says:

    Well… Sicilian father and Ashkenazi mother… both sides of my family were olive to medium complexion… dark brown to hazel eyes, and not a blonde/blond in the bunch… it wasn’t usual for my Italian relatives to be assumed Jewish, and my Jewish relatives Italian.
    Many of my just cousins have married out of their ethnicity, so there’sa bit more diversity at our family reunion’s these days… looks a little different than the get-togethers in the 1950s, 60s. But that’s ok, too.
    I suppose there is a prevailing appearance in both groups, but it doesn’t haf’to be hard and fast.


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