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.

Greeks

Romans

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.

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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.)

Out of 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.

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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. This 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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191 thoughts on “What do Sicilians Look Like? Let’s dig into the DNA

  1. I’m not going to assume I’m only, 1/2 Sicilian and 1/4 Irish 1/4 English. I have been told that all my life. My grandfather on my fathers side was born in Santa margarita Sicily. I know I probably spelled the town wrong. My grandmother is Sicilian decent born in Brooklyn New York. My maiden name is calderone. My mother is English on her fathers side born in garrison beach Newyork and my grandmother was born in county cork Ireland. My fathers father was fair skin with blue eyes. My father was dark skinned Sicilian. When he was in the sun he could pass for a black person. I got the black Irish look. Light skin, that’s burns and thick dark brunette hair and big Italian hazel green eyes that go brown. I get all the time, you look like a map of Italy with your big hips and skinny waist, dark hair and beautiful skin. Then I hear you look just like your mother who is Irish English. I was so confused on who I looked like when I was younger. I was conflicted. As I got older I realized I looked very much like my mother. My father being Sicilian born in 1926 was called black Sicilian. Or the “n” word by the Italians. Italy looked at Sicilians as trash back then. And it carried to New York. The Sicilians stayed with their own. Now most of my friends who are Italian or Sicilian all their dads married Irish. They make gorgeous kids. Lol. I love this article and all your comments. I too want to have a DNA test to see what I really am. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was Greek in my heritage.

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    1. But they still mix basically with Europeans or Arabs only. That’s why the diversity. It’s not like America or the U.K. Where people mix with Asians, Hispanics, Pakistanis and blacks and obviously from that on all of their descendants will never be white again as it’s recessive. Once they go Asian or black or Hispanic there’s no way back as their genes are very strong and dominant.

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      1. That isn’t true really. There were huge numbers of black people in Italy in ancient Roman times who were brought in as slaves. As time went by and the empire broke down they gradually mixed with everyone else, and now in Italy you can’t see if anyone has any black ancestry, even though lots of people do.

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      2. That’s not true at all. I believe, in this day and age, no one is so called of pure blood.
        I’m 100% Sicilian… born in Australia. Both my parents migrated here in 1970.
        I’ve lived in Catania. And what this woman (mama,wife) said in this blog about what we look like is so spot on, and how Sicilian, who actually live there, don’t really care. We are to busy, living our lives and loving life to stop and feel ashamed of what genetic markers we may have from thousands of years ago. We are Sicilian and proud. We are the most invated island in the world.
        The most cultural diverse.
        How can we be so diverse, if we are only mixed with Europeans and Asians only? Makes no sense.
        As it was stated in this blog. If a town in Sicilia, was of a certain background thousands of years ago, most likely the people living there today will have genetic markers, related to that culture. And ancient one, that most likely isn’t 100% the same today. And personally, I wouldn’t feel ashamed of being related to such a diverse range of people from so many nations. I seriously need to get tested, how exciting 😍
        P.s I love ur blog!!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you Francesca, you are absolutely right about this. It would be fun to find out how your DNA compares with the history of the towns or villages your ancestors came from. Let me know if you find out anything exciting!

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      4. All 4 grandparents came to America from Vizzini, Catania…I am Sicilian and proud..I am curious about my DNA, but in the end of the day..I am Sicilian which is a large mix…I look Greek with an Arab nose..olive skin, aqua blue eyes and lots of think hair…family members look very different …all I know is my family worked hard and had good family values. I wouldn’t change a thing…

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  2. Reblogged this on The Anthropologii Lady and commented:
    Truth! I’m a Sicilian Italian with a smidge Irish, Scottish and English. I turned out dark olive with dark hair and dark eyes. The diabetes I got from the English part. Nonetheless- my family has suspected we are part African in our Sicilian roots. Truth be told we are a lot of things!

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  3. Hey, I live in Sicily and as far as i know i’m 100% sicilian (if this can be even considered an ethnic group lol). I agree with you with all the crazy variety of the gene pool we got down here in Sicily. Infact my mother has olive skin, dark brown hair and amber eyes and she’s very short; my father has pale skin, grey eyes and dark blonde hair, also he’s quite tall (almost 6′ 3”).As a result i have dark brown hair and brown eyes and pale skin which doesn’t go really well with the sun ( i burn instantly and i’ve been always nicknamed “mozzarella”). I guess i’m in the minority of those who buy sunscreen.

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    1. Oh wow! I thought I was the only person in Sicily who got called Mozzarella!!!! Even my son’s best friend, who has bright ginger hair, blue eyes and freckles, manages to get a little bit of a suntan in summer….

      It makes me feel a bit better there’s someone else suffering the same 😉
      But tell me, do they tease you when you are applying sunscreen on the beach?

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    2. My father came from villa Frank’s and my mother was from missouri Italian . I always said I was full blooded Italian now I’m not so sure. Never did the dna. So I could have black. Lebonesse etc. But I know I’m Italian so I guess I will live with that.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Both of my late grandpa’s grandparents were from Sicily. Both born near Palermo. So, naturally, he thought he was sicilian, and my dad thought himself half Sicilian. My grandpa had dark olive skin and black hair, and my dad also had black hair and olive skin, and would get very dark in the summer. So there wasn’t much of a question. But low and behold, I took a DNA test from Ancestry and found I’m only 3% Italian. Just as much as I am Jewish. And to my complete surprise I found I am 7% middle eastern, as well as 7% Spanish. I’m also 8% French, 65% British. The latter two do not surprise me. But the rest is a complete surprise. My Sicilian grandfather isn’t as Sicilian as he thought.

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    1. But everything you have listed is found in Sicilians, apart from the British part. Obviously the French DNA, to take an example, could be from a French ancestor, but could equally be from a Norman ancestor of 11th century Sicily. DNA can only give a snapshot, not a timeline. But any or all of that 35% of your DNA could have come from a Sicilian… And You would only get 25% from a grandparent. So grandad could definitely have been fully Sicilian!

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    2. as for the British , they also had a mix from the Vikings and Normans. which actually were Vikings themselves and also french and other groups like the Romans, which also were mixed, some may have also been from Sicily, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact location

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  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article! My mother is 100 percent Sicilian, both her parents immigrating from a mountain village called Lucca Sicula in western Agrigento province; my dad born in England and thinking he is British, just found out his great-grandfather was from eastern Sicily, near Catania! Mom is olive skinned, dark hair, almond eyes; dad is blonde, fair, and blue-eyed. Both are small and slender. I love my ethnicity!

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  6. Beautiful , I’ve got my parents from Pakistan.
    I was born in Italy in the Emilia Romagna region, near Modena city beautiful.
    I look like an Arab guy when Italians people look at me and see me speaking Italian they get shocked.
    North people are more complicate and south are simple people.
    And … Finally now I live in Manchester.
    I liked your post , Unfortunately there are some mafia people there but with this we can’t judge all the Sicilians , doesn’t matter just peace.
    Sogni d’oro.

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  7. All 4 grandparents are from Vizzini, a small province of Catania… so I assume lots of in-breeding..I am darkest in my family..olive skin, and aqua blue eyes..yes, when I was younger I stopped traffic.
    My brother and cousins have similar features..same eyebrows and eye shape, but hazel eyes…i am sure they hate me..lol..I spent lots of time in Greece and everyone assumed I was Greek.. they say, “one face, one race”.. I know alot of sicilians but none from the same town..I have never been to Vizzini cause I a. Afraid I won’t come back..hahahahaha..I assume I am big mix..my fathers family is very white and look Austrian..i look identical to my mom’s father..Seems he could be from the knights of Malta..I am very happy and proud to be Sicilian..the fact of my mixture makes me interesting.

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    1. I think you should visit Vizzini! So what if you never come back? 😉
      Have you tried tracing your family? It’s easy with Sicilians because you just need to find one relative in Sicily and they can introduce you to everyone else! 😃

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      1. You are soo cool ! A sicilian mother-in-law..wow..you have courage !!.. i miss my grandparents..they seemed so content with a simple life..so many things i didn’t ask them..like how they made wine, or canned tomatoes, or how they managed to take a knife to a piece of fruit and create a piece of art like a widdler.. its funny they came here in 1915 wanting to be in New York, and I would love to be in Sicily..but back to my roots..it is my mom’s parents I want to trace…my grandfather’s sister adopted a daughter and my parent’s visited her. I know she would help me
        .They say I look and act like his sister..his other siblings went to Argentina and Australia … I think spending time in the greek islands I felt a similarity to sicilian women..especially the elder widows all in black..aah, life is good.. its so cool that you jumped right in to this unusual culture

        .
        .

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      2. Thank you!
        Sicily is so beautiful and I feel very lucky to have lived there for so many years. It is such a pity Sicilians are still leaving the island in droves. A hundred years on, you still can’t get a job. Such a loss of talent for the island.

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      3. Sorry so many are leaving…also wondering about refugee problem..sicily is vunerable just sitting out there.. I read the “mafia” has sworn to keep sicily safe… Did you ever go to Vizzini ? Just west of syracusa..it is the home of the story of Cavaliere Rusticano Opera.. my grandfather took me to see the opera and said he knew the family of the real life story.. so much culture… so excited to read your blog…soo cute how you met your husband..still laughing about your mother in law and her chemicals..my mom was the same..I had to go outside when she cleaned…she even wiped down my school books..and it still smelled in school..lucky I had strong lungs..I only clean with vinegar and now realize why…but I must say you are a great story teller..I so enjoy you..my grandparents were born late 1890’s, they never went back.. sent their $$ to italy and Musillini came to power.. they told me I was crazy to go there..now that everyone’s gone except my mom, (93 with dementia) I find myself soo curious.. and no one to ask.. but I am the keeper of all the photos, documents, etc..

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      4. I don’t think Sicilians feel “vulnerable” to the refugees, but rather, just wish they had more to give them. My impression is that people’s sympathy for refugees diminishes the more distant they are from their suffering – both in terms of geography and of personal experience. Sicilians see their suffering with their own eyes and on the economic side of things, they share part of it too. I have never heard anyone in Sicily say anything negative about refugees. And that is one of the things about Sicilians that I deeply admire and try to take inspiration from.

        I had forgotten how the Mafia used to claim they were protecting the common man. It was part of their clever PR machine at one point. Nobody falls for that rubbish these days so they have stopped saying it.

        I haven’t been to Vizzini but I have been to Siracusa and explored that area a bit. I absolutely love it.

        Have you found my blog post about the sulfur mines yet? If you search sulfur you will find it. The farm workers and salt miners lived similar lives close to slavery. I think it is quite moving and an eye opener for people whose ancestors left Sicily and who don’t really get why they did, or why they were so certain they never wanted to go back.
        Although life has moved on, you still need to be a courageous and deeply resilient person to cope with what Sicily can throw at you.

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    2. OMG “Una facia, una razza”! Drives me NUTS when the Greeks say that because they think we made it up, but it was actually them lmao.

      Wouldnt be surprised about the inbreeding. Its super common in Southern Italy. Both my parents families have been traced back to living in the same towns they immigrated from in 1200 for my dad’s side, and 1600 on my moms side (my maternal grandparents are also 1st cousins and my paternal grandparents’ last names are derivitives of each other, so thats obvious enough lol).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Did you see the blog post where I discovered that my husbands parents were cousins? When I was about to give birth to our son. The conversation developed in such a way that I nearly fell off my hospital trolley laughing!
        But Einstein’s parents were cousins too, so we’re in good company! 😀

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      2. Not a surprise… my grandparents are first cousins also … Now really think about this one. Every other generation, I’m talking about from your’s or my family ok? Usually the first born … A large % male. Did any one put 2 and 2 together yet? Then it skips and starts again. I’m not going to say until someone tells me they have noticed it also.

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      3. My grandparents came from the same town, in fact all 4…but my mothers father was in love with a girl & his father wouldn’t give “the donkey” instead took him to Argentina to work on the railroad..he became a bon vivant party boy&danced the tango all night..still in love with that girl..came to NYC & there was grandma, older, widowed & had $$$..also his 2nd cousin..she supposedly couldn’t have children..married had 2 children and 3 grandchildren & here I am.
        Took me years to find the whole story.

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  8. Well, I stand with the refugees..its horrible what has happened. Here I am helping with safe houses since our new Government is rounding up Mexicans like crazy. I lived in Mexico a few years..and I won’t let them down..I have been a busy activist at the moment and will not stop
    .my local sheriff says he will not participate in any round ups..Our recent election has stunned most of us..I live in Palm Beach, so Trump is my neighbor.
    No one feels secure, our democracy is slipping away…a dictatorship is on his agenda..but you just witnessed Brexit….lucky I have a strong faith and come from good strong people…as of today a group of 10 have supplied 22 safe houses that illegals can run to. On a better note I am sure your husband has funny experiences living in UK…about DNA. Do you suggest ancestry or the new one..i think 123& me ?

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    1. I am on AncestryDNA, FTDNA, and 23 and Me. They all have there good features but if I could only buy one- AncestryDNA. They have a lot of users on there and they also have a nice family tree feature that I prefer over the limited tree on 23 and Me. Make sure if you do a DNA test that you upload your raw data to Gedmatch. It is a free DNA service that has really cool features as well and you get direct emails to other users. The best part is Gedmatch is Free! It contains several DNA services under “one roof” so to speak. You can connect with others from AncestryDNA, 23 and Me, FTdna and a few others on that website.

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  9. Is anyone here Sicilian and Finnish? My father was born in Castellamare di Golfo and immigrated to NY in the 1960s. My mother was born in Finland and also came to NY. They met, married and had me and my brother. Its an unusual mix – my mother is very fair skinned, blonde and kind of quiet. My dad is one of the very dark Sicilians and he is kind of a tough guy. The Sicilian side of my family is generally very loud, they eat a lot, curse a lot, big on hand-gesturing, and are very huggy-kissy. The Finnish side is very nice, quiet, they eat bland foods, and are pretty reserved people. My grandmother was very bossy and my mom was pushed around a lot but my parents love each other very much and are still together to this day. They were married in 1972. Anyway, anyone know anyone with this combination? I’ve NEVER met anyone except my brother. Curious to know….

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    1. This story reminds me of an Italian film I saw when I had just got married, about a Scandinavian woman – I am pretty sure she was Finnish – who married a Sicilian and ended up living with the children in his very backward looking village. She had a terrible time and was never accepted by the locals, who regarded her as a loose woman for breaking a few social rules she had no concept of. I just wish I could remember the name of the film! But it was terribly sad, so maybe it’s better you don’t see it 😀

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      1. I have only seen some of the film, but could it be Stromboli by Rossellini? The protagonist is played by Ingrid Bergman, but I don’t think she portrays a Scandinavian character.

        I have only started reading your blog, but I can relate to a lot of what you are writing. My parents are Italian, my father was born and raised in a small town on the northern coast of Sicily. I spent a few years living there when I was a child and I go back every now and then.

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      2. I have seen that film, I think she is meant to be a north Italian? Can’t remember.
        Mega depressing anyway!
        I have been trying to Google search for the film I was talking about but I can’t remember the name of a single actor and haven’t jit upon the right search words! But I will let you know if I track it down.

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  10. I enjoyed this post. On my father’s side, his mother’s mother was from Palermo Sicily. She was a very short, dark, robust woman whose cooking would make your eyes water and stomach rumble. 🙂 I recently sent in my DNA to ancestry.com. I am anxiously waiting for my results. I love hearing about people’s history, it’s fascinating! Thank you for all the comments! I don’t know what I am expecting, it’s just nice to research where my family came from. 🙂

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    1. I did the ancestry test and it showed Italian, Arab, Greek, among other things. It’s very interesting! Since your great grandmother was a dark Sicilian, you may come up with some Arab and/or African.

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  11. My father was and his family were known as 100% sicilian, and my father was much darker than I am. Several friends have been shocked to see us in photographs together, because the difference is so large. Here he was with dark olive skin and black hair, and here I was looking like the palest thing to walk out of Iceland either longer haired and bright blue eyes (I actually had white hair growing up). I’d love to sometime soon test my DNA to see what kind of diversity is hidden within.

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  12. Thank you for your history lesson in Scilian genealogy. Very informative.

    My dad is 100% Italian/Sicilian. His mom was from northern italy, red hair, blues. We called her, Big Red, with great respect and admiration.

    In the summer time here in south Florida, my skin tone is, let’s say, deep brown. I seldomly sun burn or peel. I just leep getting darker. Sun screen? What’s that?

    Even when I’m not exposed to sun, i keep getting people asking me about my tan. In reality, it’s my natural pigment.
    I suspect Italian or Mediterranean genes are typically the dominate ones of a persons genotype and expressed by phenotype.

    I am proud of my ethnic heritage, regardless of all the derogatory comments i’ve been exposed to all my life.
    Thanks again for your insightful webpage. Nice job.

    I’d love to visit Sicily. I believe the village/town is Valedomo (sp?).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your skin sounds like the same kind of skin my husband has, which I am so envious of!
      Maybe the area was Valledolmo? It’s a near Palermo. If so, there’s a genealogy website specifically dedicated to people from there which has put all the church records online.
      Valledolmo-genealogy.org

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  13. Great article! I’ll make it read to some Irish and American people I know, so stick to stereotypes that think that all Sicilians are short and dark (Even if I tell them that we have had invaders from everywhere!). There is to say (a personal thought based on history and experience) that those Sicilians who emigrated to the US over a century ago must have looked so dark because they all came from poor environments and were used to work in the sun the whole day and the whole year (farmers, fishermen, etc). That’s why many people were born fair of with an olive complexion but then their carnagione turned dark (I was surprised, for example, to hear that my grandma was called “Shirley Temple” when she was a child). In fact, now that the situation has changed, we see less very dark people in Sicily. As regards this genetic variety, I can see it in my family. My three female cousins on my father’s side are all different: the eldest has a pale-pinkish complexion with light brown hair and grey-blue eyes; the one in the middle is pale-(less)pinkish with blue eyes and fair hair, the youngest is really dark like her mother. My uncle is ginger with freckles. From my mother’s side, my female cousin looks like a Tunisian girl, while her brother like a Pole. I’ve been to NY and people thought I came from Iran/ Turkey (even people from those countries!) due to my carnagione, dark hair and facial features. Such a mess!

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    1. I bet you’re right about people looking darker because they were out working in the sun all the time. The fishermen all have a year round dark tan actually, even the blonde ones.
      After a year in England my poor Hubby looks so pasty, I shall have to start planning a nice holiday 😀

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  14. My Grandfather was sicilian and I think calaberes from what my Mom use to tell me. He Had extremely dark skin throughout the year but My Mom has light color skin and blonde hair; However, when she goes outside for a couple of days she gets extremely dark skinned. I am Very similar except My father is norweigen so I have brown hair that turns blonde in the summer and blue eyes. I am usually pale during the whole winter which is typical for norwegians and people of scadanavian descent but I get fiarly dark during the summer and fairly easily; Although not as much as my mother. This was a very interesting read for sure, I am a big history buff so I am familiar with the different occupants of the times but I picked up a few things I didnt know as well.

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  15. I am half Sicilian and half Irish, but people tell me I look 100 % Sicilian. I have dark brown hair with slight red highlights slightly olive skin and light brown, almost amber eyes. My Sicilian grandfather came from Leonforte in central Sicily, and my grandmother was from Castrogiovanni (now Enna) also in central Sicily. I have been to Sicily six times, and I have never seen a black, or very dark skinned Sicilian. Sicily has a lot of Norman and French blood. But, my wife’s family is 30 % Middle Eastern in their DNA. They were from Palermo Province, which has more Arab than Central Sicily has.

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    1. Interesting that you’ve never seen the dark Sicilians – whereabouts do you go in Sicily? In some areas I’ve never seen very dark people, notably the south East. But in and around Palermo you see a few very Arabic looking people – the girls usually stand out with their huge eyes and really fantastic hair.

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    2. I was just reading that the Celts brought a great deal of their DNA from southern France–that is, Mediterranean, characterized by dark hair and eyes, so, it’s not surprising you look “100% Sicilian.”

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I’d like to comment on something someone commented on earlier–but, like, last year–when they said: ” and interestingly enough, the Napolianos looking down on the Sicilians as barbaric in comparison.” The family stories I heard report that my great-grandfather, (De Gregorio) who was from Naples, married a Sicilian woman (Virzi) and then his family disowned him! I think this might be why he left for San Francisco! I was surprised though. My question to anybody is, is it still like this? That was, after all, a hundred years ago.

    Like

    1. I remember growing up and hearing my 4 Sicilian grandparents say stupid things like, well, he is from Calabria so he must be stubborn..or Italians from the north don’t know how to cook..they were just nieve..never traveled & didn’t know other cultures..I married a Sicilian American, but he was from Palermo..that still wasn’t good enough..oh well..

      Like

  17. First…the “controversial” aspect was again brought up because of false history propounded by Quentin Tarantino to send an insult to southern Italians in one of his ultra-violent blood-porn movies. Since he has been called out on his closet racism by several writers, he has been making movies to placate Hollywood money sources (Django and Basterds for example).

    He simply doesn’t like southern Italians. He is mostly Irish and nothern Italian and like many northern Italians, feels a need to distance himself from the poor south. They are akin to Republican types: people who get some money for the first time in their lives, move up north to get away from their roots and then disparage them to appear above them.

    His bigotry is obvious, because in his movie, which often distorts history, claims there was a “negro invasion” of Sicily. There was never a “negro invasion” of any part of Europe. There was a dark-skinned general named Hannibal that invaded the NORTH through the Alps, but was about it.

    Second…North African tribes were all mediteranean stock or Arab caucasions. The sub-Saharan influx did not happen until FIVE-HUNDRED years AFTER the Moors invaded Italy, Spain and France when the slave trade took off.

    It’s also why the there is more African DNA in the peoples that controlled the slave trade (British, Dutch, Spanish, Irish-American, German-American) from four-hundred years of inter-breeding with slaves. White-looking descendents of slaves often married into white WASP, Irish or German families throughout American history.

    The Moors stayed in Spain and France for TWO-HUNDRED years and in Italy from Rome to Sicily (one half of the Italian peninsula) for approximately FIFTY years and were at constant war. This is why you barely see a Moorish influence in Sicily.

    Like

  18. Great article, thank you. Both my parents are born and raise from Sicily, then move to Belgium, my 2 older sons are born in Sicily, one in Houston (TX) and the last one in Brussels (Belgium) I just did my DNA test, waiting on the result… so exited about it!!! Will see.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Great post to find–thanks! My Italian parents were Sicilian (mom) and Calabrese (dad). Several years back, I had my maternal DNA tested through the company (forgot name?) that Ancestry.com more recently bought out. I liked especially the “DNA map” feature they returned with the results several weeks later. I took everything with a grain of salt, of course, when looking at the purple-colored highlighting that was supposed to indicate where around the world my mom’s DNA had been not only most concentrated, but the journey that this route appeared to have taken. Seemed to indicate the highest concentration in Iceland (Iceland?!), with the other end beginning in extreme southeastern Asia–and in between, the route meandered some along southern Asia, then northward to northwestern Asia, across Scandinavia and Iceland, and then finally down through Italy to Sicily. My reaction? Well, first off, I chuckled to myself that it made sense if my highest maternal DNA concentration started in Iceland and went south, rather than the other way around–I thought, ‘Now what Sicilian with any common sense would’ve gone the other way, that is, decided to migrate north across Europe and the sea to freezing Iceland?!” :j Pretty interesting stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Woops–correction to above–meant to write that the southern end of the DNA testing results indicated an origin in extreme southWestern, not southEastern, Asia. 😮

      Liked by 1 person

  20. ARE THE SICILIANS, CALABRIANS etc GREEKS?
    ANSWER: Yes and No.
    Yes, because they have GREEK origin and purely GREEK genes derived from:

    A) The first colonization with the Minoans of Crete From 2.000 to 1.600 b.C.
    B) The Second colonization. Aeolian settlements from the Aegean islands in the 12th century b.C., after the destruction of Troy.(Among them, the “Sicalaya”, possibly the Sicilians).

    C) The third colonization of Achaeans and Pelasgian tribes from Epirus, Acarnania, Aitolia etc, in the 10th b.C. century, after the Dorian invasion from Macedonia to the Peloponnesus, which pushed the Achaeans in exit to the west (Iapyges, Oenotroi, Leukanoi, Brettioi, Messapioi, etc).

    D) The Great fourth colonization in 8th century b.C., who brought GREEK population in Sicily and southern Italy to exceed than 5 million.

    The Greek colonization continued unabated in the Late Roman and Byzantine mainly years.

    E) In 7th century a.C., the Sicily and the south Italy (under Byzantine rule until the 12 century) received huge waves of Greek “ iconolatres” and later “iconoclasts”, to escape the massacres of the one hundred years civil discord in the eastern (Balkan and Asia Minor) Byzantine territory.

    St) The invasions of the Arabs in Asia Minor and other Islamic tribes from Asia, pushed more waves of Greeks to their Western homeland.

    Z) The latest Greek waves arrived after the conquest of Asia Minor and the Balkan from the Turks (from 14th to 19th century).
    — The famous English Humanist Roger Bacon, in a famous letter, which he sent to Pope Nicola 3rd Orsini in 1280, when browsing in Sicily, describes the Compact Greek-speaking regions of the island.

    —- The German emperor, King of two Sicily’s, Frederick II, wrote (in 1231) his famous laws in two languages. In GREEK, to be understood by the people and in Latin* (Public at., Thea von der Lieck, Buyken, Koln-Wien 1978).

    *(In Latin, because the scholar language for Lows and the terminology was the ancient Latin).

    *In the II and IV chapter of his Lows, provides measures against the Greeks and heretic Orthodox Church in The Kingdom of two Sicilys, with many measures against them, like forbid property, forbid heritage property, forbid studies in Constantinopolis, but only in the Napolis University, who Founded in the year 1224/ 5/June… and many other hard measures).

    And NO, because:
    The GREEK language disappeared from the South Italy from 1.500 to 1.600 a.C, when two ecclesiastical sessions (1585 in Otranto (gr. Hydrunta) and 1588 in Messina) required by the Orthodox Greeks in Sicily and southern Italy, to follow the Roman Catholic Church, or leave the country. So the south Italian population (1.500 churches and monasteries, almost) forced to except the Roman Catholic dogma and Latin language in the ceremonies and missed Greek language. In the year 1579, the Vatican force also the “Basilican” Monks, to except his jurisdiction, and organize them in orders, who transform them in Franciscan and Jesuit Monks many years later.

    The last hit was given by the Bourbons. King Francisco 1st ended with a decree, the latest 19 Greek churches and Monasteries (13 of them in Calabria) in the year 1821-1830 and force the last Greeks to except the Roman Catholicism.
    —Whenever the Greeks of Sicily and southern Italy, have lost their language, faith and conscience, definitively after 1580. They became something else. They continue to exist in southern Italy, Calabria, Apulia,Basilicata, Sicily etc, not as Greeks, but of Greek origin and ancestry, creating a new, different culture, based in to the Roman Catholic faith, in a version of a modern Latin language (similar to northern Italian) and customs similar to many Catholic conquerors (Spanish, German, French …), who ruled the area.

    ***

    LUIGI PIRADELLO

    *The most Famous Greek of modern Sicily was the Luiggi Piradelo.

    “… I do care the Hellas in my mine. Her spirit is consolation and lighthouse for my soul. I am from Sicily, in other words from Greater Greece and there still exists a lot of Hellas in Sicily. The measure, the harmony and the rhythm lives on her. I am the same of Hellenic origin. Yes, yes, don’t be surprised. My family name is Piragellos. The Piradello is the phonetic alteration of it, Piragello-Piradello…”

    Luigi Piradelo to Costas Ouranis. The whole interview in the magazine “Nea Estia”, No 191, December 1934. Costas Ouranis Foundation, Plaka, Athenes Greece.

    I suppose you Know that and the famous lows of Frederic II of Swabia, were wrote in Greek (to be understandable from the population of Two Sicily’s) and in scholar, for lows, Latin. . And the lows has very strong measures against everything Hellenic and Orthodox in two Sicilys.

    Fredrick Nitze, the German Philosopher wrote that the First attack against Hellenism, from the Germanic west, began from The Normans in southern Italy and Sicily, in 11 th century. See next Why!………………………………………………………. In the second half of the thirteenth century Roger Bacon (English Humanist) wrote the Pope From Sicily, concerning Italy, “in which, the most places, the clergy and people were purely Greek”

    (1). An old French chronicler stated of the same time that the peasants of Calabria spoke nothing but Greek (1)

    (2). In the fourteenth century, in one of his letters, Petrarca spoke of a certain youth who, on his advice, is to go to Calabria: he wished to go directly to Constantinople, “but learning that Greece abounding once in great talents now lacks them, he believed my words…; hearing from me that in our time in Calabria there were some men thoroughly ac¬quainted with Greek literature… he determined to go there.” (3) Thus, the Italians of the fourteenth century did not need to appeal to Byzantium for elementary technical acquaintance with the Greek language and the be¬ginnings of Greek literature; they had a nearer source, in southern Italy, the source which gave them Barlaam and Leontius Pilatus.(2)

    (1) Nec multum esset pro tanta utilitate ire in Italiam, in qua clerus et populus sunt pure Graeci in multis locis; Roger Bacon, Compendium studii philosophiae, chap, vi; Bacon, – Opera quaedum hactenus inedita, 434.
    (2) Et par toute Calabre li paisant ne parlent se grizois non. P. Meyer, “Les premi è res compilations françaises d’histoire ancienne,” Romania, XIV (1885), 70, n. 5.

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    1. Wow…I am impressed with your knowledge..I am 100% Sicilian from Vizzini, Catania..born in New York..spent many summers on the Greek Islands, everyone thought I was Greek..they said One Face, One Race…I went to Greece for work, doing styling & make-up for magazines & fashion shows..I was on 5 Greek Fashion magazine covers because I looked more Greek that the local models…however, I have an slight Arab nose & agua blue eyes…have not done a DNA yet..I am expecting a big mix…most importantly..I am very proud to be Sicilian & proud of the family I come from….but back to you..are you Sicilian?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The Greek people do have quite a varied look, though. Some are really pale and others dark. They were invaded from the north by people they called Dorians in very ancient times who brought a lot of blue eyes and light hair (plus a major lack of civilisation) into the country!

        Like

      2. So now I am just more impressed..Thanks for all your info.. and what is fascinating is that my family looks sooo different from each other..A Grandmother looks French, A Grandfather looks Austrian..but I look exactly like my Mom & her Father…Dark, lots of hair & aqua eyes…we even have the same hands & walk the same way…but Sicily being an Island had easy access .. Again, thank you sooo much..

        Liked by 1 person

  21. I would like to know, are there many Cocco(s) in Sicily? I was raised by my hungarian mother (100%) and only saw my father a few times. I have always been told he was Sicilian. I would love love love to know this.
    Thank you!
    God bless
    Mrs.O

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have met a few Coccos in Sicily but more in Sardinia. Lots in fact.

      Just looked it up on Cognomix. There are 35 Coccos currently in the Palermo region and a dozen around Marsala.
      http://www.cognomix.it/mappe-dei-cognomi-italiani/COCCO/SICILIA

      Meanwhile in Sardinia there are 1,672 with that surname.
      http://www.cognomix.it/mappe-dei-cognomi-italiani/COCCO/SICILIA

      I think we can safely say the Coccos in Sicily originated in Sardinia.

      And I am quite impressed that my random meeting of friends was such a good reflection of the official statistics!

      Like

  22. I loved reading this article, thank you. My grandfather was 100% Sicilian and very North African/Middle Eastern looking -beautiful, black curly hair, deep olive skin, and a prominent, aquiline nose – with a relatively rare surname that I have found to have a possible Persian connection. I recently sent away for a 23&me kit, so I’m super curious what comes up since we’ve always wondered.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I just loved reading about this. I’m 1/2 Sicilian through my father, and my mother’s a blend of Northern Italian, Irish, and German. I have thick very dark brown slightly wavy hair, blue/green eyes, a slightly olive skin tone that’s pretty pale in winter but that tans rather dark if exposed for awhile, and what many people describe as “Greco-Roman” facial features (a prominent nose, roundish eye shape, thick eyebrows, a long broad face and with somewhat fuller lips).

    It’s funny because I look a lot like my father but my father’s slightly more olive-complected and has hazel/brown eyes. My mother has blue eyes and yet my father’s father (Sicilian) as well as several of his siblings had blue/green eyes too, and one or two of them were blond as well. I’ve been guessed as everything under the Caucasian sun so to speak, from “Black Irish” on one hand to Palestinian/Lebanese on the other, with the average person thinking I’m either Italian, Greek, or vaguely “Eastern European” (like from the Balkans) when they have to guess my background. I’ve had people tell me I don’t look Italian at all (though sometimes saying I look Greek or something – kind of paradoxical in a way as they’re both Mediterranean), that I look very Italian, or kind of or a little Italian. I personally think I look it, or at least significantly Mediterranean, esp. since quite a few people (both white and minorities) make a point to ask me about my heritage, which I’m sure many other Southern European-descended Americans have probably experienced. It seems like in the U.S., when someone is white but not very WASPy-looking, people are curious about that person’s ancestry.

    All of this prompted me to take the Ancestry DNA test, and my results were quite interesting to me and revealed that, not surprisingly, I’m quite a mutt! It turns out that I’m 48% Italy/Greece, 17% Scandinavia (this can be both my maternal ancestry as well as some Norman influence in Sicily), 10% Caucasus (West Asia here – as I discovered common in Italians/Greeks), 8% Iberian Peninsula (Spaniards and Italians are quite similar so not that shocking), 5% Great Britain, 4% Middle East, 3% Jewish, 2% Irish, then very minute amounts of Europe West/East. Interestingly, there was no North African ancestry – so much for the Moors I guess! Guess I’m descended from the people who fought them haha.

    I also think that there’s a great deal of ignorance that abounds about Sicilians, at least in Americans but also even amongst other Italians or Italian-Americans. Many people think that every Sicilian is super dark or even that they’re part-black (usually citing the Moorish invasion – never mind the fact that Moors were North African Arabs and Berbers), and yet I’ve met so many full-blooded Sicilians (well if there can be such a thing lol) who would have little problem blending in say, France or central Europe, as well as of course anywhere on the Italian mainland or Greece. I do have have some relatives who look Arab/Middle Eastern no doubt, but in my experience, Sicilians like these are the minority and the fact is, North Africans tend to stand out in Sicily as being noticeably darker than most Sicilians. Most Sicilians just look Italian or Greek, and a significant minority can also fit in France or anywhere else in Western Europe too.

    All this is very interesting to me, and if anyone would like to discuss this further, feel free to reach out! Ciao!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Look up the definition of the word “homogeneity”. It seems you used the word “homogeneity” twice in sentences where you meant the opposite meaning of “homogeneity”. Aren’t you an English speaking Brit? 😄😄😄

    Like

    1. Homogeneity means being uniform and all the same. I said twice that Sicilians lack ethnic homogeneity. And they do lack it. Go back and pay attention while reading the part about some people having lots of Greek DNA, others having lots of Arab DNA and there being a huge variety. Having this variety is what “lacking homogeneity” means.
      What’s your mother tongue?

      Like

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