Held to Ransom by the Maternal Mafia

I had to collect my son from school early on Wednesday of the week before last, because the school fell down.

It sounds like the punchline to a cheesy joke, or some schoolboy’s fantasy, but here in the dump of a Sicilian town where I live, it has happened to three other schools already and is not funny at all.

Here’s a picture of one of the ceilings that was caught in a metal net:

Controsoffitto

 

Why was the net there? Because the ceiling in one of the classrooms of this same school fell down four years ago and the wire netting was put up as a precaution so the children could get an education until the summer holidays, when it would be mended properly.

Except it wasn’t mended properly, and this time the headmistress’s office was the part that fell down the most. I think some of the children shared my personal disappointment that she survived.

So, who is teaching the children while they cannot enter the school without risking their lives?

Nobody is giving lessons. The kids are at home or roaming the streets like truants.

Some children ended up in hospital with back injuries and cuts when this primary school roof collapsed
Some children ended up in hospital with back injuries and cuts when this primary school roof collapsed

 

After a week with no school, the headmistress arranged for a school in the next town to be used during the afternoon, from 2pm to 7pm, for lessons. I took my son there on Wednesday, and he was one of the only two children from the entire school to be there. I was bombarded with phonecalls from mothers telling me they “had decided” to boycott the afternoon solution because they wanted arrangements for the use of a building in our village, during the morning. Nobody actually called me a “scab” for breaking the strike, but they made their positions clear.

The Maternal Mafia was joined by two of my son’s teachers, who said they had left their own children at home as part of the boycott.

“At home alone, or at home with relatives?” I asked the Kiddo’s maths teacher.

“At home with my mother,” she answered, defensively.

“Yeah my mother is in England in a wheelchair, you see,” I explained, “so while I do my job, my son watches TV for 8 hours straight. He burst into tears yesterday and sobbed for half an hour without knowing why. Social isolation is bad for all of us, isn’t it?”

Here's another local primary school; since December last year the children have been receiving lessons in a local church.
Here’s another local primary school; since December last year the children have been receiving lessons in a local church.

 

Then I pointed out to all of the teachers that the LAW OF THE LAND decrees it is my legal obligation to ensure my child receives an education, and the state’s legal obligation to provide one free of charge. I told them I agree with their demands but that I think my son should continue receiving an education whilst I protest.

Eventually I got more phonecalls from the Maternal Mafia, more persistent this time, in an orchestrated series, and involving shouting. So today I succumbed to peer pressure and did not take my son to school.

I am still angry that I am being put under this pressure to deprive my son of an education, not only by parents but even by the teachers. I am angry that the school fell down and injured some of the kids four years ago and the council did nothing. I am angry that this has happened in three other schools here already and none of them has been fixed. We are going to end up like Africans with the children having lessons under a tree.

COUfeature

 

Above all I am angry with myself that I came to live in the Third World, where this kind of thing can happen, where it is in fact commonplace enough to be considered “normal”, and where it is even an option that my son is deprived of an education so he can be used as a political instrument.

School%20under%20the%20tree%20boy%20at%20blackboard

 

I have put up with no running water for a year, I have put up with power cuts and no electricity on an almost daily basis this summer, sometimes lasting 12 hours at a time, and I have put up with rubbish mounting in the streets all around me until it sat in rotting heaps bigger than dump trucks.

But when the school falls down and my son’s physical safety is put at risk, and the Maternal Mafia wants him deprived of an education, enough is enough.

Screw you Sicily. Seriously, screw you.

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132 thoughts on “Held to Ransom by the Maternal Mafia

  1. Hold that thought, sweetie… A lesson under a tree sounds like an excellent plan. Any big trees near the offices containing the powers that be? An open air lesson/tea party/picnic just in front of their front door could do the trick… Starting with a lesson on public safety and the laws pertaining to the maintenance of public buildings, and a conference on the right to education. I’m sure the media would love it, too.
    As for the maternal mafia (excellent term, if I may say so), tell wondeur woomane and her henchwomen to stick their fair-trade teabags where the sun don’t shine.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. We left Sicily 4 weeks ago after 3 years of trying to come to terms with life in the third world! We are so happy to have moved to Abruzzo where people actually seem to care about their towns,their environment and each other! No rubbish no dogs and recycling bins everywhere. In a word “civilisation”!

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  3. I’m really sorry of reading this post, I’m sorry for the school conditions where children are supposed to be educated, I’m sorry that you as a mother and a citizen can’t do nothing more than let your child at home. As an Italian, I really didn’t know about this and it’s a complete shame, because nobody wants to inform the rest of Italy about what’s happening…But I’m sure that there is someone who really prefers not to spread the word. Shame on them.

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    1. I know how you feel. I’ve been here for 40 years. I took my 6 year old for the first day at school and we waited and waited outside the closed doors until eventually the preside come out and said the disinfectting hadn’t been done so we would have to come back another day! At that time I still thought as a normal person and asked why it hadn’t been done during the three month holidays.
      But at the end I have to say both my children had a pretty good education with great friendships.
      The sun will shine again.

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  4. No body cares. We would visit every summer and my in laws took everything as if this is life here accepted. When I would complain about piano standitore to get it clean and put a playground for the children. The first thing they said to me was you Americans are the first to throw garbage on the streets. I opened my purse and I showed him my where I had put my garbage like candy wrappers and gum wrappers. His mouth closed and he went away. Then let us not talk about offices. They open when they like. They have to take their coffee and then when they feel like it they might listen (not resolve your issue) and then they walk away We went to Palermo bank only to be told to go back to Bagheria for results. The banker could not be bothered. Then I needed verification of my residence in Palermo in order to get my dual citizenship I paid 15 mila lire and to come back in two weeks. My husband and I went back and was told they could not find my family’s paperwork. I went back a couple of days later with my nephew who is a carabinieri and guess what he went inside and he found what they were supposed to look for. Unfortunately we could not make a copy to take to Santa Flavia. When we asked how long it would take for the copy to get to Santa Flavia they laughed they said it would take at least 40 years and I believed them. So the rest of my family born in the US has dual citizenship but I was born in Porticello, my dad for work reason established residency in Palermo, and I don’t have dual citizenship.

    Unless the mentality of the citizens change nothing changes.
    Personally if you want your child to be ready for this world as an adult I would leave like millions already have left. We Sicilians are all over the world and I believe that is one of the reasons my dad left. He wanted better for us.

    Veronica I wanted to ask what type of lawyer is your husband. Meaning what is his specialty.

    Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All so true. So much laziness and a total lack of caring about making things better.

      My husband works in the Palermo law courts. Apparently about half of what he does would be done by a solicitor in England and the other half wouldbe done by a court clerk. technically he is a civil servant.

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  5. I am shocked and surprised that this can be allowed to happen…I never would have thought that life there at this point in time, would be this intolerable….now I fully understand why millions left and never wanted to go back…..as was the case of my grandparents who never wanted to speak about their life there…I really feel for you and your child….if its feasible for you…perhaps moving would be an option…all the best…

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    1. I can really understand why people who left this place – and no doubt many of them suffered far, far worse things than my family has done! – might never even want to walk about it.
      I get frustrated with Americans online who describe Sicily as “paradise” and the best place in the world. They have no idea. They would curl up and die if they had to live like this.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Veronica. You are absolutely right about that inexcusable situation at the school..and you are completely justified in your action regarding this. However, in fairness to some of us Americans who may have used the term “paradise” with reference to Sicily…allow me to say something. The impression some of us Americans have of Sicily being a “paradise” is a result of what we have heard from our Sicilian friends and neighbors in the USA..as well as from personal experiences from visiting Sicily on many occasions. I spent a lot of time in Sicily, (months) admittedly as a tourist..but it was enchanting, a breath of fresh air from the oppression in the US. In addition, I have many Sicilian friends in the US, who long to return to their homeland. Their experiences in America were horrible..i.e. pregiudice, discrimination, disgusting work conditions..they were placed at the bottom of the ladder by American employers who had promised them that the US was “paradise”..that the streets of America were paved with gold..etc. etc…. Just wanted to give a bit of balance to this whole issue.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I hear what you’re saying David, but I still think it’s easier for Sicilians to see Sicily as a paradise when they are looking at it from a distance.
        They may face racism in America but they do get to go to school, and have running water, and electricity, and the rubbish is always taken away.

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      3. Well, this is certainly a large and very complicated issue which would be better discussed over a long lunch. It is also a rude awakening and disillusionment for me to learn of these conditions in Sicily. I honestly don’t know what is done about parents who don’t send their children to school in the US, I’m just not familiar with it..but I don’t imagine that anyone is going to jail over it..although it’s possible, since of late they’re throwing anybody and everybody into jail who dares to question the regime. Mine went to parocchial schools where the nuns rule with an iron hand. Perhaps the solution in Sicily is to send the children to parocchial schools. Clearly there is a societal problem when parents don’t send their kids to school. Veronica, you were 100 % right in your response to the situation..but what is wrong with the other parents..have they all become sheep..as have the Americans? As for the liberation, my Dad was part of that campaign under General Patton and I have great respect for what they accomplished, and I’m quite familiar with what you’re saying regarding that. I like British people, my Mom’s family was 1/2 from Bradford England (paternal side) and the other half from Brechin Scotland. However..I have no respect for Montgomery..nor for his puppetmaster Eisenhower. There is a huge philosophical discussion which would be wonderful to have together if I ever get down there. In the meantime, I thoroughly enjoy reading your blog.

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      4. Hi Veronica: There seems to be a whole different slant on the subject from some of the Sicilians (and Neapolitans) I know in New England..(i.e. Boston and environs)…most of which is better communicated a voce, not in writing.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It would definitely be nice to meet if you ever make it down here!
        I am sure there are many different points of view about this and all are valid. But do you really want to believe your Sicilians friends who live in Boston when they say Sicily is better than America? If that’s so, why are they living in Boston?
        i have a Siclian friend who livesin London and who insists that Sicily is better than England. Yet he chooses to live in England year after year, so his words ring loud and hollow.

        They don’t seem to have parrochial schools here any more – there certainly aren’t any where I live.
        As you say, there’s a social problem here. Maybe it’s just cultural differences, but coming from England I find the Sicilians incredibly apathetic about everything. They greet life with a big shrug and if anything takes effort, they lose interest.
        They’ve been conquered thirteen times over during the last 2000 years and it seems to have created their national identity, as people who expect to be beaten and no longer bother to put up a fight.

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      6. You’re right about the apathy..it is appalling..and it’s not only in Sicily..I’ve noticed it all over the country as well as the US. People just yap and talk ad infinitum about condition ..and DO nothing. They are just not yet fed up enough to really put their money where their mouth is. I admire you for having really done something pro-active in that situation with the school. You need to fire up the rest of the parents, shame them into action. Be the catalyst.

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    2. It’s true that millions left Europe for what was supposedly the “paradise” of the USA….The only paradise was in the lies told by the Americans to entice some of those poor people to come there to work in unsafe and underpaid manual labor jobs. It was not a paradise for many of them..it was instead a nightmare.

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      1. Having a horrid job is better than having no job David, which is what 25% of Sicilians currently have, and what 50% of Sicilians under 25 years of age currently have. I know people with university degrees here in Sicily who consider themselves lucky to have a job as a bin man, part time.
        The Sicilians who moved to America and complain must have very short memories.

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  6. I love Italy but I hate the bureaucracy and the attitude of many Italians who work in government jobs. This is tragic and completely unacceptable. I would go to the press, have lessons on the lawn outside the mayor’s office, etc. It sounds like you are going to have to be the “mamma in charge of change” but I know you can do it!!!!

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    1. Absolutely right. The bureaucracy..and in North Italy it is the worst…..needs to be combatted, but not enough citizens are willing to fight. As long as the average guy has a plate of pasta in front of him each day..he’ll never rebel, same as in many other countries.

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  7. What this island really needs is a people’s educator with a big stick, somebody like Frederik the Great, travelling around the country incognito and beating to hell every civil servant who does not do his duty. Not a softy like Danilo Dolce and no dreaming communists.

    Why did the authorities not fix this damned ceiling? No money? I can’t believe it.

    By the way: In Germany, if you do not send your child to school, police is coming into your house. If you do not cooperate, the child is fetched by force to school. If you still do not cooperate, the child is permanently taken away from you and given to another family. (Only, if it is a German family. German laws are not executed if it is a non-German familiy, especially a non-Western family. These are our unlawful multicultural double-standards which will break our neck in the very next future).

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    1. This is how things work in England too. I literally could not believe that the Maternal Mafia could get away with not sending their children to school and that the teachers were also supporting them and bullying me to keep my son away.
      BTW I know wuite a lof of Sicilians who say they think Germany should invade Sicily to sort it out. One of them says he wishes Germany had stayed in Sicily after WW2 and rebuilt Sicily – a kind of “Kingdom of the Two Germanies”

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      1. David … may I remind you that Germany and Hitlerism is not the same thing? (And so many British citizens admired Hitler … I could tell long stories, but I stop myself from doing it. Think alone of the Windsor family … *big-and-bright-smile*)

        By the way, how are laws enforced in Britain? With social therapy sessions? No police in Britain? Who is standing at the borders to prevent “refugees” flooding into Britain? The salvation army? Yes, in GERMANY there indeed the “salvation army” is standing at the borders welcoming day per day 10.000+ unknown persons without preventing them from flooding in.

        It strongly seems, that the British re-education program for Germans after the war is now backfiring badly. You taught us the wrong lesson. Many Germans today really think, that being German means being Nazi. Too many Germans reject to realize what is going on and what is at stakes in the asylum crisis. As long as the foreigners are not Germans, everything is fine in this illusionary world.

        Conclusion: Don’t talk about the war with Germans! We know your flaws and failures. We are an angry and dangerous people. The furor teutonicus is shortly before boiling over. History has not reached an end, yet.

        I invite all European Democrats to the big anti-Merkel rally in Berlin on November 7th, 13:00 h, at the Neptun fountain next to the Berlin town hall. We will march on the chancellory next to the Reichstag. The fate of Germany today will be the fate of Europe tomorrow.
        http://www.alternativefuer.de/

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      2. I’ve spoken with may Sicilians who are really ambivalent about this, because the Americans rid Sicily of the Nazis but installed the Mafia in politics instead. Prior to the US “liberation” the Mafia were low class criminal gangs, but once the Americans came up Western Sicily and installed them as town mayors, believing or pretending to believe that they were in prison for being political prisoners rather than criminals, they were part of “la Casta” as Sicilians call them, The Establishment. And once the Mafia is part of the establishment, who is going to get rid of them?
        It’s noticeable that they are far less corrupt and Mafia-infested in the east of the island where the British had a different approach to restoring local administration.

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      3. Veronica.. with all due respect, many good American soldiers lost their lives on that campaign from Gela to Palermo to Messina and along the Caltagirone Road to free Sicily of Fascists and Nazis. So what if they needed the help of Cosa Nostra. If that had not been done, Sicily would be speaking German today. The U.S. 7th Army with my Dad and General Patton beat Montgomery and his British 8th Army every step of the way, because Montgomery was trapped by caution and cowardice.

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      4. Well my point was that i know quite a few Sicilians who say it would be better if Sicily were speaking German today and were ruled by the Germans instead of the Mafia. Because they are ruled by the Mafia, you know.

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      5. David, the history of Patton’s Sicily campaign reads differently in reality. Patton fought an unnecessary fight through Western Sicily against the plan just in order to arrive at Messina earlier than Montgomery — who is not known to me as a coward. And while Patton and Montgomery were quarrelling about their prestige, nobody cared to stop the German retreat which was a great military success: All men and weapons could be shipped from Sicily to Calabria, while Americans and British had heavy losses.

        Furthermore, Germans do not colonize by spreading the German language. For example, when Germans colonized East Africa, they studied the native languages and created grammars for the first time in the history of these languages. Then they chose the German-grammared Kisuaheli to be the lingua franca of the region. This German creation is today one of the most spoken languages in the world.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swahili_language#History

        Are there grammars for Sicilianu?

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      6. Perhaps I used the word coward erroneously and in haste..so I’ll retract that word. We both have strong feelings on the subject and it’s refreshing to talk to a knowledgeable person. Thank you for responding. You’re right there are no grammars for Sicilianu, unfortunately, as I’ve sought for years to learn to speak it fluently.

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    2. On the other hand, the kind of Hitleresque mentality of ..” If you do not cooperate, the child is fetched by force to school. If you still do not cooperate, the child is permanently taken away from you and given to another family.”…the kind of totalitarian government action of “fetching by force”..etc..is a frightening concept.

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      1. Re: American truancy – when i was a child (late 50’s early 60’s) Truant Officers roamed the streets. If a child was seen outside during school hours they were hauled home to their parents and would get in big trouble. With the 60’s came a sweeping cultural change in the U.S. and it has spiraled crazily since then. Home schooling has become huge so there is no way to know, without time consuming research amid myriad “privacy” laws, who belongs in public school and who is truant. The schools, particularly the high schools, try to have strict attendance rules and your graduation could be put in jeopardy if you are absent for too many days. Then again the “5 yr. senior” has become the norm. Lots of kids in no hurry to finish. The public education system in the US is a mess!!!

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      2. Absolutely right…it is a mess….and where are the truant officers today? Moreover..where are the parents? At least in the parocchial schools there is still some measure of discipline. I remember well the story of my ex-wife having been slapped one day by a nun at school. I don’t recall the reason. When my ex-wife arrived home, she began to tell her father the story..but before she could explain why she had been slapped..her father stopped her and said ” Since the Sister felt that you deserved a slap..then so do I ..and I’m going to give you a slap because apparently you deserved it “. He then slapped her…and that is how discipline should conducted in the home. She grew up to be a respectable person…and a couple of slaps didn’t kill her. Now in Italy, I see every day school kids walking the streets like bands of unruly thugs..dressed like sewer rats. In my humble opinion, Italy, America and many other places are a mess.

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      1. I think the term “police state” is fairly unclear and ambiguous. But currently Sicily is a state where the police do not manage to enforce the law becayuse politicians are working against them. They arrested a Judge in palermo last week for being associated with the Mafia and helping them economically whilst openly pretending to pursue them under the law.
        So even if Sicily did become a “police state” (though I’m still not sure i know exactly what you mean by that) the police would be, essentially, the Mafia. Again.

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  8. Truly sad that a beautiful place with such extraordinary history and civilization should be described as a third world country. Such proud history and tradition! Can it be so? But it just shows how basic human traits come out when allowed to do so: lack of law and order, disrespect, selfishness, greed and laziness…it can happen anywhere. Clearly total lack of leadership in the country. You need someone who can kick ass. You need a woman to do the job.

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  9. Veronica I love your blog! I’m keen to come to live in Sicily despite your news about falling ceilings and maternal mafiose! (Is that the right grammar??) Having lived in Zimbabwe, New Zealand and UK I feel well equipped and I just love the place! Do you know what scope there is for GPs/medici generali in Sicily?? cathyoleary@doctors.net.uk

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    1. All the friends I have here who are doctors are desperate to get out, so that their careers can move forward. One of them was even planning to move to Kuwait. You get promoted in Italy, and particularly in Sicily, by being related or married to someone in a more senior position who can pull all the strings for you. I don’t know what is involved in registering yourself as a GP but that might be more accessible to someone without strings to pull. If you are a specialist and do private consultations you can make vast, massive amounts of money so from that point of view it is a good place for doctors to work. They are also far more open-minded here about new medical procedures, new research etc so you have far more freedom as a doctor to make your own decisions about how bet to treat your patients instead of being hemmed in by NHS guidelines.
      If I were in your position I would say give it a try, but don’t cut off your exit strategy if you end up feeling like me!

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      1. There seems to be an enormous chasm here between the opinions. My doctor friends in the US, born and raised in Sicily..some of whom can’t wait to get out of the US and back to Sicily. Granted they make a ton of money in Boston, but they are strangled by US bureaucracy, suffocating, idiotic federal rules etc

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      2. I think the freedom that italy grants to doctors to make their own professional judgements is a wonderful thing and you can clearly see the benefit of that as a patient, when you compare treatment in Italy with treatment in the UK for example, especailly if you have an unusual illness for which there isn’t one single, well-established cure.
        On the other hand, once you look beyond the realms of practising medicine, Sicily is in general one of the most insanely bureaucratic countries in the world!

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  10. It just makes me so sad to read this, and I am so sorry that you- or anyone – should have to deal with such terrible conditions. It’s just not right. :^(….

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  11. Veronica..please do keep in mind , when reading my comments, that I’m 1/4 British and 1/4 Scottish…Boston Brahmin, Sons of the Revolutionary War..etc..and I’m very proud of my Heritage.

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  12. Veronica…I was just re-reading the narrative about the situation at the school. “Nobody is giving lessons. The kids are at home or roaming the streets like truants”.. My question is..where are the Fathers? In my experience with my Southern Italian friends in the US..long before any child EVER attempted to … “roam the streets like truants”..the Sicilian and Neapolitan Fathers would slap them all the way from Boston to New Jersey.. So..I don’t understand at all..WHERE is your discipline down there? What are the fathers doing about this? One day I must really tell you about what some wonderful young Italian women in my town (one of whom is my neighbor) did to combat unacceptable conditions in our city. It’s a long story..so I’ll reserve it for a more opportune occasion.

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    1. The fathers are being apathetic like the mothers I think. A big shrug.
      I think part of our failure to find a real meeting of minds on this might be because the kind of Sicilians who get up and move across the Atlantic to start a new life and very different from the ones who shrug everything off and stay here, living off their grandmother’s old age pension!

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      1. David, this not only happens in Sicily unfortunately. In Italy it is quite common for old parents to give money from their pension, and for their daughters and sons to accept it. It’s the revolution of the generational economy. Italian fathers are generally reaaaally protective towards their children, and their children can think it’s normal to still receive money from their parents: the economic crisis emphasised this attitude, unfortunately.

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      2. Hi Giulia..Thank you. I guess I was simply not aware of such things. I’m being enlightened by this informative blog…and beginning to wonder if I even want to live in this country much longer.

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      3. It’s a completely personal choice, I’m not living anymore in Italy, for example, also because of this. Italian families are in general extremely lovely and caring, but this can also result in the suffocation of our independence as adults. Living in Italy can be amazing, but it’s true that you have to accept some deep-seated habits if you want to happily live there. In which part of Italy are you living already?

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      4. I’m living in the North at the moment..but have lived also in the South, from where emigrated many of my Italian friends in the U.S…hence my lifelong fascination with what I thought, mistakenly as it seems, was the true Sicily.. Veronica has kindly convinced me that the South is not what I thought it was.

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      5. Exactly, but I do disagree with the comments about the experience of Sicilian-Americans made by some on this thread.

        As a Sicilian-American, all four of whose grandparents (the immigrant generation) hailed from that tormented isle, I must say I find this discussion in the wake of your horrendous confrontation with the “Maternal Mafia” somewhat ill-informed. As a rule, the idea that any one person’s daily experiences in Bagheria – good, bad, or indifferent – could ever represent the last word, not only on Sicilian life, but more generally on the life of the worldwide Sicilian diaspora, seems farfetched on its face. Seriously, extrapolate much? Though I have been to Italy many times and have relatives on both the mainland and the island, I have only been to Sicily once; so my impressions of the place are necessarily those of a tourist, albeit one with at least some (but not much) instinctive cultural understanding of the people. (My paisans! Well, sorta; perhaps we’ll get to that some other time.)

        But I can say something, as definitive as one person’s experiences can ever be, regarding growing up as a Sicilian-American in the Boston-NYC corridor. And to those here who suggest there is some subliminal yearning among us to return to the “old sod” in order to escape some supposedly endemic discrimination in America; I can only say, “huh”? Never have I experienced the discrimination spoken of so matter of factly here, and it has certainly never occurred to me that “returning” to Sicily (of all places!) was the solution to any of my life’s problems. And I’m almost certain that the many Sicilian-Americans in my circle would share this sentiment. I’m mystified as to where this idea came from; perhaps it is some belated attempt to climb aboard the victimization bandwagon that is, sadly, all the rage in the U.S. these days. Whatever its origin, I dissent.

        P.S.- I just came upon this blog recently, quite by accident. It’s wonderful, so please don’t misconstrue my criticism of this one issue as a more general criticism of the blog. On the contrary, I find it very well written, funny (usually), and insightful.

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      6. The fathers, evidently, need to grow some guts..like the Italian fathers in America..had..or still do..at this point I don’t know anymore. After reading all the comments..I have no idea who is what.

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    2. BTW David, my husband found out while his grandmother was still alive that her widow’s old age pension was 300 euros per month MORE than his salary in a full time job as a civil servant. That is how much the Sicilian state pensions and public sector salaries are out of sync and how much the average income has decreased.

      Also, there is over 40% unemployment here and that is not because people turn their noses up at nasty jobs, I am in fact constantly amazed at how stoically Sicilians will do unpleasant jobs for low salaries and indeed, be grateful for the opportunity.

      So, although they joke about it bravely, actually living off granny’s pension is seriously the only option for many people. I am sure some people are lazy and spongers but it is most certainly not always the case.

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      1. We have seen a number of Italian parents who have created jobs for their children by establishing businesses B&B’s, wineries, etc. In the South I think it is much more difficult to do this because of the Mafia control. My understanding is also that Italians believe in investing in land as the inheritance for their children. Again, maybe more difficult in the South. Therefore handing over part of your pension may be viewed by some as gifting the “inheritance” especially if they see their children struggling. We received checks in the mail from my father-in-law on several occasions before he passed. He wanted us to have the money tax free. Yes, he was Italian, from Campania.

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      2. Yes, Diana..I agree..it is way out of sync. People need to take action and not just words…words have never solved anything..anywhere.

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  13. As an adjunct to my previous comment, the North is not for me..not at all. It is strangled by bureaucracy. The people, in general, are cold, unfriendly, unsociable…on and on. I’m starting to wonder where is the “Paradise” that I grew up hearing about from the Italian immigrants in Massachusetts.

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  14. I’m from the South too, and lived in the North for a few year before becoming an expat. I’m sorry to say that many times Italian immigrants have a nostalgic and sweetened remembrance of their life in Italy.I guess it’s something every expat experiences, once in a while. Bureaucracy is strangling everywhere in Italy, not easy at all to deal with it. There are many “Paradise” elements, if you want to stick to food, historic corners and wonderful landscapes. For many people this is enough, and I cannot blame them, they have their point. It’s just a matter of choices.

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    1. Yes..you’re absolutely right..most people prefer to remember the good rather than the bad. Where do you live now ? Are you an American expat or an Italian expat?

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    2. In addition, bureaucracy is strangling many countries…the worst is the US..650 useless Federal agencies, Each year 2000 or so new inane laws, corrupt Congressmen..on and on.

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  15. Martin, I don’t know about “escaping discrimination” but I can tell you that there most definitely can be a “yearning” for the “old country”. Our first trip to Italy in 2003 we came with our two adult daughters to see art and experience the country we had read about in history and geography books. We NEVER expected to be hit with a feeling of “coming home” to the point where we take at least an annual trip and sometimes two in one year, to the country of our grandparents. We never expected to fall so hard in love that we would seek dual citizenship. The Consulates in the United States are literally being overrun with requests from Italian Americans trying to establish that link. Quite an interesting phenomena.

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    1. Yes there is a yearning to find roots. One of the horrible bureaucratic problems in Italy is that the bureaucrats make it literally impossible for Americans even to obtain residency, permesso etc. I do believe that this impediment to residency exists only for Americans, British etc. If , however, one arrives on a sinking rowboat from some 10th world country, one is welcomed with open arms.

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      1. When I was getting my permesso and residence and all that, they pushed me to the front of the queue after I shouted loudly that I was an EU citizen. Any non EU citizens get treated like dirt, be they American, African or anything else. I saw this with my own eyes, they all get told no and sent away.

        This is exactly what America does to Italians and other non-American citizens entering the country. They make you fill in a form swearing you do not intend to enter America and commit genocide, for example, and that you are not guilty of war crimes. Even when you have a visa they intimidate you and treat you as if you just got arrested. Immigration controls are very mean to lots of people!

        BTW Italy also says No to a far larger number of probably genuine refugees than just about any other EU country barring the Eastern ones like Hungary.

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    2. Bonnie, I think you misunderstand my point of view here; I fully appreciate the “yearning” for Italy and see it expressed often in the Italian-American community; indeed, at times I feel it myself. But in my case at least, it is a yearning based on the gravitational pull of Italy and not some reaction to an America hostile to Italians. I have experienced no such hostility and that’s in New York, where people are famously not bashful about giving you a hard time if they have a mind to. I don’t doubt that Italians of my grandfather’s generation experienced discrimination, perhaps my parents as well, but by my generation it was mostly a thing of the past. Plus, when it comes to discrimination against immigrants, every tribe has its tales of woe and each in its way believes its suffering is unique. To paraphrase Tolstoy, “All happy immigrants are the same, each unhappy immigrant is unhappy in his own way.” Except that there are no happy immigrants, or more to the point, the aura of struggle so ennobles the whole enterprise, that no one wants to be dismissed as a mere “economic migrant”, it sounds too mercenary. Hey, I’m not just some guy looking for a better job; I’m a pioneer, okay.

      And so, for the Irish it was the perilous crossing (genuinely so) on famine ships, followed by (or so the story goes) rampant employment discrimination (“no Irish need apply”). And yet, when my grandfather’s generation immigrated a generation and a half later, these very same Irish had become the official face of America. If you were diseased or “feeble-minded” it was likely an Irish INS agent putting the white chalk mark on your back that forced your return to Palermo, it was Father O’Brien or Father FitzWhatever who scorned your “licentious” style of Catholicism as little more than disguised paganism, and it was Sister Mary Margaret who beat the English Language into the thick Sicilian skulls of your children. But two generations later: All is forgiven, all is forgotten, and people just laugh about it at the wedding of Mario and Erin or Maria and Sean.

      Finally, and irony of ironies, the most disparaging comments I ever heard about Italians were uttered by other Italians! In my case, when I was first dating my wife, who’s half Italian (Campania), her grandmother practically put the “Evil Eye” on me when she found out I was Sicilian, but luckily there are countermeasures (“She turned me into a Newt! I got better.” – Monty Python). And I myself have been solemnly cautioned by a Calabrese never to trust a Barese (not sure why). Anyway, basta! (And good luck with the dual citizenship. Ever been to Laurino or Piaggine? Just wondering.)

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      1. Martin, have not visited either place. Where exactly are they? We have traveled as far south as Soverato in Calabria and from there Cosenza and then Acri and Sant Sofia d’Epiro, the villages of my grandmother’s family. In Campania we have been to Napoli, again for research, and Atripalda and San Bartolomeo in Galdo, the villages of my husband’s grandparents, both sides. We spend a lot of time in Tuscany, in a small village as well as the lovely city of Siena. My heart belongs to the Val d’Orcia although Chianti may well rank second. We hit the “big three” when friends or family come with us (Roma, Firenze, Venezia). This summer we stopped in Torino to see the Holy Shroud Exposition and we love Riccione on the Adriatic. Oh and Bologna is fabulous. We go there to eat at two amazing restaurants. Other than Poggibonsi there isn’t a place or area we haven’t absolutely loved or at least seriously liked. 😉

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  16. The little question at the top of the comment box is perfect: “So, what do you think?”

    I think you’ve every reason to rant and scream and get angry at Sicily and the Maternal Mafia and all the things that perpetuate this and have for decades (and perhaps for even longer?).

    And I think you’re strong for staying in Sicily and writing about your experiences without any facade. I admire your honesty. Ugh, what a horrible and frustrating situation. Sorry you have to put up with it…keep on keeping on.

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  17. How about that International School in Palermo-a private school. Is that a possibility for you? I have a Roman (born and raised) friend whose parents left him an apartment near the Vatican. He works for the Italian govt as a physicist. He would NEVER live in Italy (let alone Sicily) full time. He says the problem is Italians and Italy. My guess is if you have plenty of money and connections in Palermo province, a lot of life’s issues become easily solved. Money and power always win in life. As unfair as that is. Sounds like you need to leave Bagheria. Sicily seems like a great place to find your roots, vacation a bit, and then leave. 3rd world place to live however. Again, unless you’re cashed up – then it’s probably ok.

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    1. You’re 100% spot on about all this. If you have enough money to throw at your problems you can solve them all. The Palermo International School is wonderful but far beyond my current budget, unfortunately.
      I feel exactly that way – Sicily is wonderful for holidays but not for living, not for the serious things in life. It’s like having a load of icing but no cake.
      I was talking to a woman yesterday who asked where I was from, and when I said London she said “You poor thing, you’ve come from the stars to the stables” – dalle stelle alle stalle, an italian expression that’s self-explanatory!

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      1. Veronica.. I read with great interest all of the comments and as a result I’m beginning to wonder why I’ve wasted so much time in this country….and I’m seriously thinking tha it’s not the country in which I want to live any longer. Unfortunately, we can’t recover lost time. My question is ..if you’d be so kind as to give me your opinion..what do you think about an American living in Scotland..specifically in the Edinburgh area? I know that part of the country fairly well…and always had positive experiences there…as a tourist. What are your thoughts on living there for an American? Does Scotland allow residency for Americans? Thank you and I anticipate your comments.

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      2. Living in Scotland would be fabulous (provided you can take the cold!) as they are mega-organised and have lots of fun events too – they are more efficient than England. So for living there, it is great.
        As far as getting residency goes, you will be in exactly the same boat as in Italy. the rules about letting non-EU natives live in the EU apply everywhere.
        I hope that helps. My bottom line, is, it would be a good choice.

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      3. Thank you for the comments on Scotland. Having spent a little time there I found the people to be very gracious, friendly and welcoming.

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      4. As for residency in Scotland, thank for the info on that. I mistakenly thought that it might be somewhat easy in the UK. It does seem that Americans have a tougher time than do citizens of other non-EU countries to get residency in the EU. (except of course in 3rd World countries..e.g. Panama, Belize, etc. where one can “pay off” somebody.)

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      5. Ha haaa! That’s because Americans wanted their independence from the British Empire way too early!
        People from the countries that stayed in the Empire automatically had British citizenship and could move to Britain with no paperwork at all. After 1949 when the Empire dissolved, those countries could choose to become part of the Commonwealth instead and still have UK citizenship, and nearly all of them did. This is more than 100 countries but the USA is not one of them!
        Although the law has cut down on their automatic right to move to Britain, they do still have considerable preferential treatment compared with citizens from outside the Commonwealth.

        BTW did you know that the UK is one of the very few countries that the USA 100% excludes from the greencard lottery? Which I think is a kind of tit-for-tat kind of gesture by America!

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      6. Hi Veronica! I didn’t know that..i.e…that USA excludes the Brits from the Green Card lottery!!! Ridiculous!! And…my Grandfather from Bradford, England,. my Great-grandmother from Brechin..and they won’t let me in!!! Tit for tat, as you said. One day I’ll relate to you the story told to me by my Dad about how the Brits wanted to put General Patton’s dog in quarantine for 6 months..just before the invasion….You can imagine how General Patton ..and… fortunately.. Mr. Churchill..reacted to that ridiculous bureacratic nonsense.

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      7. Very true Veronica..The British Empire, for which I have great respect for their traditions and history..They gave up the Empire much too easily. Witness how they they let a bunch of half-naked African savages beat them..disgraceful. You all need another Churchill..an Iron Fist.

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      8. Veronica..You’re right..the Americans are not welcome in Britain..strange though..isn’t it..since Churchill dragged us into a war that could not have been won without our intervention.

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      9. (Veronica, your experience in Sicily appear to be following the trajectory of
        T.E. Lawrence . . .)

        Prince Feisal: The English have a great hunger for desolate places. I fear they hunger for Arabia.

        T.E. Lawrence: Then you must deny it to them.

        Prince Feisal: You are an Englishman. Are you not loyal to England?

        T.E. Lawrence: To England and to other things.

        Prince Feisal: To England and Arabia both? And is that possible? I think you are another of these desert-loving English. Doughty, Stanhope, Gordon of Khartoum. No Arab loves the desert. We love water and green trees. There is nothing in the desert. And no man needs nothing. Or is it that you think we are something you can play with because we are a little people, a silly people; greedy, barbarous and cruel? But you know, Lieutenant, in the Arab city of Cordova were two miles of public lighting in the streets — when London was a village!

        T.E. Lawrence: Yes, you were great.

        Prince Feisal: Nine centuries ago.

        (Later, when Lawrence, sadder but wiser, departs Arabia, Feisal remarks . . .)

        Prince Feisal: My friend Lawrence, if I may call him that. “My friend Lawrence”. How many men will claim the right to use that phrase? How proudly! He longs for the greenness of his native land. He pines for the Gothic cottages of Surrey, is it not? Already in imagination, he catches trout and engages in all the activities of the English gentleman.

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      10. Yes..all true about Lawrence of Arabia etc..etc..But..the British should have crushed the oppposition of those lower classes and maintained the Empire. Just an opinion…

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      11. I think the Empire had come to its natural end as ideas about self determination (the very things that made Americans fight for independence) became widespread. I think the transition to the Commonwealth was the logical and moral thing to do.

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    2. DeCArmine, let me get this straight: Your friend inherited an apartment in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Rome and further enjoys a government sponsored sinecure; and yet, from this privileged perch he rains down opprobrium on the very people and country that made his pampered life possible. Nice. Sadly, I suspect that Sicily is too poor a place to have a vocabulary adequate to the task of describing your friend’s situation; unless, of course, there just happens to be a colorful Sicilian phrase for “spoiled rich kid”.

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      1. well my rich kid friend is 64. And it’s familial apartment that is his elderly mother can not inhabit alone. He could sell it. But Italians tend not to that type of thing. He has no heirs to leave it to. So while he is Italian, he is married to an American and they live in NYC. Both come from poor backgrounds and are successful professionals. So judge not the book by the cover. In America, if you work hard you can progress. This sounds like it is NOT the case in Sicily (and most of Italy). I am thankful my grandparents left Sicily in the 1910s and came to NY. I’ll happily support with tourist dollars and buying Sicilian products. Sadly, i would never consider living there. Kauai is way better paradise (and in America).

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      2. DeCArmine . . .

        And in your 64 year old friend we see the unholy trinity of Italy’s (and indeed, the entire EU’s) perhaps fatal woes.

        A total fertility rate (TFR) of 1.43, well below replacement — He has no heirs.
        A bloated, overbearing bureaucracy — He works for the Italian Government.
        A high youth unemployment rate — Though 64, he still clings to his government job.

        Oh, but “he would NEVER live in Italy fulltime”. Why? Too much bureaucracy? Youth unemployment too high? Lousy school system? Strangely, none of the usual suspects seem to apply in his case. If anything, he seems to have found the sweet spot in Italy’s dysfunction: paid bureaucrat/tourist with his very own pied-à-terre in one of Rome’s toniest (no pun intended) neighborhoods. As Miss Mona Lisa Vito would say, “So what’s your problem!”

        Oh, but he was born poor. Boo-hoo, so was everybody else in Italy, circa 1951. (For further details, see Vittorio De Sica’s “The Bicycle Thief”.) Anyway, he’s not poor now, and so I ask: What has he done for his country besides “take the money and run”, while badmouthing the place from afar.

        Now don’t get me wrong: I was born in NYC, I work in NYC, I live (off and on) in NYC, and I (mostly) love NYC (but it is definitely an acquired taste, and even now the acquisition hasn’t totally closed yet). I, too, could never live in Italy fulltime (though a few months in Firenze sounds nice). But I would also never live in any other country of the EU fulltime. In reality, the EU is dying right before our eyes (Sweden has already passed the demographic tipping point, with Germany close behind). The number of Muslim men aged 18-35 slated to enter the EU in just the next 2 years alone exceeds the number of wehrmacht troops that invaded the Soviet Union in 1941. And nobody in Berlin or Brussels (Talk about an overweening bureaucracy!) is going to do a thing about it except pass out Korans, cover up crucifixes, and lie to the public about the level of violence and cultural destruction they’re importing to their societies without asking anyone’s permission. And since they come from countries where the TFR is roughly twice the EU average, within a generation or two you can expect the muezzin to issue the call to prayer in every capital in the EU. For Europeans, alas, it will be the call to pack your bags.

        Finally, nothing personal, and I’m sure your friend is a nice guy. But if Italy’s educated elite won’t tend civilization’s garden, who will? Not Sicily’s peasants, that I can assure you.

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    1. Sorry about the long silence and thank you for your kind message!
      We are OK, things are madly chaotic with the school hours being so odd (Lunchtime till dinner time, and Saturday mornings) but I have been busily working out a radical solution to it all and will probably have a big announcement soon!
      Meanwhile your concern and support are much appreciated! 🙂

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    2. Hi Veronica..hope all is well..or at least better? Did you all have a good Christmas? Do you still advise me to forget about Sicily? At this point I don’t know where to go in Italy. I can’t stand the North much longer..it’s terrible..the people are the worst, as is the climate. I hate it here.

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      1. I’m thinking seriously of going to another country. Italy, so far, has been a complete delusion…an enormous disappointment. I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am about my experiences in this country.

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      2. Oh my Lord..Sicily cannot POSSIBLY be worse than Piemonte..NOTHING can be worse than this God forsaken North Italy. Up here they’re all Zombies..the living dead.

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      3. I’m had been thinking of Scotland, which I really liked
        the few times I went there. Then someone on Facebook told me that even they are full of problems, criminals, drugs..this and that..I’m starting to wonder if there is any good place left in the world.

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  18. I understand your issue with the poor conditions of the school as well as not being able to bring your child to a school. However, I think it’s a bit harsh when you say “Screw you, Sicily”. Sicily is rustic. I was in Salemi, so maybe it’s a bit different on the East. But where we were, it was all farms, wineries, archaeological sites, and small towns. I don’t think that Sicilians are simply apathetic towards education. It’s just that in that area of the country, many of the children would inherit the farm. In our town, the women stayed home, took care of the children and the home, made dinner, then came out at night and enjoyed a few drinks and a couple of smokes. They are traditional and live day to day. And Sicily is a third-world country so I would expect to have most of the issues you encountered, such as no running water or electricity.

    As for America having better education, that isn’t true. Not even a little. I am from Chicago, and our Mayor shut down over 50 schools on the South Side in 2013. They even have more closures slated for this year. 2013 was the largest school shutdown in the history of the United States. And the schools that got closed are all in prominent Latin and African American neighborhoods. These children are not being kept from school due to structural damage from wear and tear that the city cannot afford to fix. These children are getting an unwarranted death sentence. The open schools are in neighborhoods that are littered with gang violence where children die from stray bullets on a daily basis. I couldn’t even tell you the amount of times I have seen a mother crying on my local news because her daughter was shot in the head by a stray bullet in a gang neighborhood. And now all of these children are going to have to walk through prominent gang neighborhoods to get to their new and overcrowded schools. Some schools are so crowded that the children have to have their classroom in the gym for the entire day.

    America doesn’t give a fuck if you don’t send your child to school. They will either be thrown in the foster care system and never thought of again, or they live on the streets. Unless you’re in a nice area. If you’re rich, then they ask questions.

    Now I haven’t read most of your other posts, so I’m not sure if you typically have the “screw this country” attitude. But if it happens that you do, then I hate to say it, but you willingly moved to a third-world country, and a country that I would have killed to live in. There was a time in my life where I was about to drop everything and move to Sicily. I said to myself that if I didn’t get hired as a Technical Writer, then I would move to Sicily. Obviously I got hired. But the point is that to me, it was a paradise. So don’t hate the country and telling it to go screw itself. It is their country. And remember that there is someone out there who would love to be in your shoes. (After all, that’s why I bought your book. I want to live vicariously through you.) So instead of complaining about it being a third-world country, enjoy your life with your husband and son in a beautiful rustic country. Embrace the culture and be grateful for the opportunity to get to take life a bit slower than most other places in the world. There are plenty of Americans who are lucky if they get four hours of sleep and ten minutes of family time per week.

    I still look forward to reading the book. It’s next on my list.

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    1. I must say that I agree with the previous post from Nina. I’m American too..and we Americans dreamed of living in Sicily. I understand Veronica’s points. The more I read these posts, the less I understand. I grew up with Sicilians in school and as my neighbors etc. I had maximum respect for them.

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    2. I must say that both of you , Nina and Veronica, have very valid points. Having lived in both countries, I understand well the good and bad in both. However, Veronica..I must say that I don’t understand what you mean about Sicilian ladies slashing tires!? Why would a Sicilian woman do that? It sounds like what the Porto Ricans are doing in the Bronx and the South Side of Chicago..I find it hard to believe.

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      1. The order of messages is getting jumbled up but anyway, I think the tyres being slashed is a measure of how angry a parent can get when their children are missing out on an education which the parents do actually pay for in their taxes.

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      2. You’re right, Veronica..these messages are jumbled…but in response to what you wrote.

        You’ve got to be kidding
        February 12, 2016

        The order of messages is getting jumbled up but anyway, I think the tyres being slashed is a measure of how angry a parent can get when their children are missing out on an education which the parents do actually pay for in their taxes.

        Why doesn’t the town, the parents etc. just demand that your town council fix the school..or replace the councilmen?? Give the politicians a time limit..an ultimatum..or throw them out !

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      3. That is what they have been demanding since last October but there is a debt of 4 million euros in the councils bank account because the money was all embezzled by the previous administration. The tyre slashing was meant as a message to demand they request the money from EU funding. In Sicily you can demand things but that doesn’t mean you get them.

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  19. Italy is not a third world country. It is part of the European Union. It is first world along with all of western Europe and the United States. One expects better. There are EU standards, laws, and funding even. It is absolutely and purely down to local corruption that this school has collapsed.
    By the same token as calling Sicily third world, you should be resigned to the fact that Chicago is third world. Simply arbitrarily redesignating somewhere as ‘third world’ and telling someone to suck it up is ridiculous!

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    1. I know several Sicilians who would be so offended that you called Sicily the Third World I dare not say what they might do to you!

      Italy is the land of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo, of Nobel prize-winning scientists. It is the country that invented the alphabet we use, the modern banking system, the novel and which built many of the roads people in Europe still drive on.
      They formed the biggest empire the world had ever seen. Saying that Italians are simply a lackadaisical bunch of lazy peasants who do not care about education, which is what your comment is tantamount to, Nina, is historically wrong.

      I wish you could just get a tiny idea of how upset, stressed and traumatised the entire community has been by losing their school.
      Parents have been giving up their jobs in order to be able to still take their children to school in the evenings and weekends. They have formed groups to do private tutoring in different subjects. People on the council have had their car tyres slashed by angry, furious mothers.
      These people do not have a farm to inherit!!! Their parents are cleaning ladies, greengrocers who sell fruit from a street stall, they are bin men and van drivers. They are desperate to better themselves and cannot afford the relaxed lazy life that you dream about.

      I know that you dream of living off your savings and having an easier life in Sicily, but don’t get the idea that many Sicilians can do that: they don’t have savings, they have never worked in America, they live in the reality where Sicily has 50% unemployment and no unemployment benefits.

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      1. I don’t think you understood my comment. First, I never once called them lazy. Calling peasants lazy just makes no sense. Moving slower and being lazy are two entirely different concepts. The south moves slower than the North in America, but I wouldn’t call the south lazy by any means. I also never said that every person there has a farm to inherit. You called it third-world multiple times, and I am not sure Sicily would be considered the same country as Italy. It is by EU standards, but they are entirely different places. I was stating that education in America is not as perfect as you may think it is. I was saying that we force kids out of school whereas Sicily may not be able to afford the reconstruction. Where you somehow got the idea that I think Sicily is nothing but a bunch of lazy peasants that don’t give a fuck about education came from your head, not mine.

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  20. Some EU statistics regarding how ‘third world’ Italy is.
    With regard to quality of life in the various EU countries, living standards can be compared by measuring the price of a range of goods and services in each country relative to income, using a common notional currency called the purchasing power standard (PPS). Comparing GDP per inhabitant in PPS provides an overview of relative living standards across the EU.
    Italy ranks 12th out of the 28 countries with a GDP per capita in PPS of 96. France comes 11th with 107 and the UK comes 10th with 109. Germany comes in 6th with 124, Ireland 2nd with 134 and Luxembourg way out front with 266. At 28th place comes Bulgaria with 47.
    All Italians SHOULD be living a comfortable life, be they in Milan or Palermo it should be not wildly different from London or Paris. As a former resident of Milan, Paris, and London, things seemed to me much of a muchness. Palermo is LIKE the third world but it has absolutely no valid reason to be so. Sicily is not a different country from Italy. Italy is not a federation. It makes no sense to accept the differences in standards in exchange for a bit of picturesque scenery.

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  21. I leave blogging for a few months and come back to see all the action I missed here and that you have also written and published your book. Congratulations Veronica and I do hope that your son is back in school now, although I am no great fan of public schooling and am particularly sympathetic to Mark Twain’s comment that he never let his schooling interfere with his education.

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    1. Palermo is not at all the “third world”. It is a facinating Baroque city filled with interesting things and places. Why don’t you try going to Teatro Massimo or Albergo Delle Palme..then say it is 3rd world! I
      t is not!

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  22. The Gross Regional Product per capita for Italy taken as a whole in 2008 was 27,000 Euros. For Sicily it was 16,600. For northern Italy it was 31,250.
    That’ll be why there isn’t a successful political party called the Lega Sud campaigning for independence from the tyrannical north and it’s American colonial stranglehold (which I have never come across).
    I have been to the opera in Palermo. It was lovely. But I still couldn’t have a shower beforehand because the water had been cut off thanks to the adorable Sicilian mafia and their lovably cheeky ways.
    Lying in the gutter, looking up at the stars eh? Who could dare to ask for more, the very cheek of it.

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    1. In the US the variation in per capita GDP by state goes from a high of $60,000 (Alaska and Delaware) to a low of $30,000 (West Virginia and Mississippi), and yet the last attempt at secession (The Civil War) ended in failure 150 years ago. No one’s tried it since. It may be that once a country is above a critical size and population, the variation in per capita GDP/income between the richest and poorest regions reaches equilibrium at about two to one or so, because much larger gaps tend to be “corrected” by internal migration as has happened between the south and north in both the US and Italy. Given this phenomenon, referring to the richest and poorest regions as separate countries in need of separation seems exaggerated. Even in my home state of New York, the variation between the richest and poorest counties is more than two to one, and within the county the variation between the richest and poorest towns is again more than two to one. So if the ultimate aim is to stratify each country’s population by wealth, where does it end? “We the citizen’s of the mighty nation of Shelter Island wish to be sovereign and demand our very own seat in the UN Generally Assembly.”

      Finally, Italy has only been a country since 1861 or so. It coalesced around a people with a roughly similar language, culture, and history. And in a world now drowning in the mass migration of peoples from the most distant and alien cultures the planet has to offer, the differences (and there are many) between Turin and Palermo still seem rather puny by comparison.

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      1. Martin Gale, if you were addressing me you have misunderstood my point. I am arguing that Sicily is not a different country and pointing out to David that independence would be terrible for the place and is such a silly idea. If Sicilians wanted this they would start voting for the Lega Nord. Which they don’t. I merely believe that Palermitans should not passively accept a worse living standard than the Milanese, regardless of whether somewhere in different countries people are starving and dying or driving around in jewel-encrusted Rolls Royces. That’s irrelevant. I am not talking about a world stage but Italy, of which Sicily is indisputably a region.

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  23. Veronica, I just spent the last hour reading your blog and these comments. I lived in Sicily (the west) on and off for two years and experiences similair to “crushed ceilings” were the reason I finally left. I had a sicilian boyfriend who came from a well off family and had a secure position, yet I never felt like I could “make it” there in my own field of work. (Well, the decisive reason why I left was, that I had to find out, that he was an aggressively jealous and emontional abusive sicilian boyfriend. I spare you that story though.)
    I know about the water shortage in summer, bad roads, garbage and the shoulder shrug-attitude. My sicilian family had a weekend house by the sea and the walls suffered from moist. Once to twice a year they called a painter to redo the walls. A few weeks after the walls had been painted the moist was back. Instead of getting the damn walls dry in the first place, they just continuousely had them repainted…
    Before Sicily I had lived in ten countrys all over the world (mostly hot places) and traveled to more than fourty. I used to hate the cold and winters and loved Sicily for climate, food etc. I was ready to settle. But Sicily had other ways of making me feel depressed. False friends (espacially female “friends”), seeing people suffer from unemployment and even employed ones working incredibly hard and having to wait months and months for theyr salaries, selfishness and opportunism. And all those lovely beach-towns look and feel horrible on a rainy cold day (not many of those I do admit). Of course I encountered many extraordinary Sicilians too, I would say 90 percent, many of who I am still friends with and come to visit often. If my boyfriend had been loving and supportive I might have stayed. I see many positive sides of living in Sicily or raising a child there (your son will be well equipped for the hardships of life 😉 and I often miss Sicily. I live in a well organized and social European country now, yet, there are just as many things to be frustrated about and things are getting worse every day. (No ceilings coming down though.) I understand your frustration. Writing the way you do seems to be a good way to get your frustration out. It has always worked for me and now I make aliving from it as a journalist – lol. It would be interesting to see reactions of Sicilians if you wrote in Italian. Sicily needs people who dare to speak up. Use that anger for something positive! “Big up” Veronica! I think you are incredible!! Don`t give up! I see you as next sindaco 😉
    BTW how is Leoluca Orlando doing. I was there when he got re-elected and it seemed like a very positive time full of hope.
    Sorry everybody for this long post… did not plan to take up so much space.

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