The Italian Festival of Sicilyshire

What happens to Italians when they live in England?

I became deeply worried about my husband and son this summer, after they had been living in the Stoke-on-Trent area for six months.

When one has married an Italian, one simply doesn’t expect to be putting up with this type of thing:



When I intercepted Hubby attempting to sneak into the car for a shopping trip with his feet dressed in this appalling manner, I think I showed exemplary restraint.

“Are you sure you want to go out like that?” was all I said.

“Yes I am,” he answered without hesitation. “And if you’ve got a problem with it, I’m not leaving the house.”

The rot has set in

Clearly, England had corrupted him. I have been exposing him to too much subversive foreign-ness. It’s not just the English fried breakfasts he’s become addicted to. It’s not just the way he waxes lyrical about the white dotted lines on English roads, and relishes staying within them at all times. It’s not even the way he secretly enjoys posting photos on What’s App of his car thermometer saying it’s 1 degree centigrade.

Oh no. I think the breaking point was when I made him eat Chinese food for the first time in his life.



Let me just explain. The mark of a true Sicilian is to be so suspicious of Chinese food that he will actually walk away from you backwards if you raise the topic in conversation. It’s odd, because the Chinese are another great food-adoring nation who experiment with exotic ingredients, are ready to eat anything with legs on (except the table), and who produce unforgettable explosions of flavour in the mouth. They ought to have so much in common.

Yet that is how Sicilians are. And once a Sicilian has overcome the Great Chinese Food Phobia, there really are no further boundaries left.

How to put things right?

I decided to get things back on track by taking Hubby on a shoppping spree in the elegant and Neoclassically beautiful Arndale Shopping Centre in Manchester. I could tell things were off to a good start when we bumped into my old and very dear friend Octavian:



One smart jacket and a snazzy pair of shoes later, I was feeling a little better about Hubby already.

The Italian Festival of Sicilyshire

But things got fully sorted out the next weekend. I should have realised it takes an Italian to cure another Italian.

The local Italian restaurant turned our sleepy English village into FESTA SICILIA!!!!

I made my three Italians dress appropriately:



The green part of the Tricolore is our friend Pasquale. He missed us so much when we left Sicily that he followed us all the way to the drizzly West Midlands. We think he may have stowed away in one of our suitcases. He turns up at our house for lunch every Sunday and then sleeps on the sofa.

We’re not complaining. He’s very good at washing dishes.



We just call him Uncle Pasquale and drop him back home after he’s helped us finish off the leftovers for dinner.



Anyway, the festival got off to a great start with a stall at its centre selling delicious arancine, those Sicilian rice balls with a tasty bomb of filling in the centre.




We stocked up on some classic ragu ones and cheesy ones, and also tried a few adventurous flavours, including a marvellous pumpkin and pine nut version.



Hubby and Uncle Pasquale were very excited to eat the spit-roasted hog. They used the bin lids as a table, along with some English people:



They were very proud of the fact that the English bin at the end was in pristine condition whereas the Sicilian bin was plastered in crumbs and detritus of their marvellous meal. They forced me to document it photographically, as evidence:



There was a roaring, aderenaline-filled drive-by of twenty Ferraris. I utterly failed to photograph them. They were too fast. I presume they were being driven by actual Italians.

I did capture the Fiats though.



For me, the best part was the hybrid singer. When I say hybrid, I mean that he spoke English with a strong Stoke-on-Trent accent and Italian with a strong Sicilian accent. A true son of Sicilyshire, and a fabulous singer.



After a good old sing-song and some dancing around the village green, we were ready to roll off home.

Fully cured

By the time we got in, Hubby and Uncle Pasquale were teaching the kiddo new Sicilian words, singing Sicilian folk songs, and making fun of my teabag collection.

And I noticed Hubby was wearing proper shoes:


Ah! The world has been put back to normal again!

21 Comments Add yours

  1. Steve says:

    How can one ever compare the enjoyment of life – sun, food, wine – Sicily with the dreariness of the U.K.?


  2. Henry Barth says:

    Yesterday I ate some “authentic Sicilian” food at a huge chain in the UK, ZIZZIE.

    Please don’t let your family go to those places. The food was awful and not even Italian let alone Sicilian. And there are 140 locations throughout the UK.

    The Italian Ambassador should lodge a complaint with the English government.

    And is that dish ‘Chinese’ that your husband is eating? Non-UK readers might be interested to know that so-called Chinese food in the UK villages is usually served with chips (french fries.) But what is hubby eating?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. VH says:

      Ha! I KNEW I was right to refuse to go to Zizzi when someone tried to get me in there recently!!!
      Hubby has been so shocked by “Italian” food here that he and Uncle Pasquale are opening a new business, importing Sicilian foods and ingredients to the UK to supply restaurants and shops.

      Meanwhile yes, that dish is Chinese. That Chinese meal we had was stunning. Having had a Chinese boyfriend years ago, I feel fairly confident in saying it tasted like authentic Chinese home cooking. Definitely not what one gets in yer average Chinese takeaway.

      Chinese food with chips sounds like fusion cuisine gone seriously awry! It’ll be Szechuan Pork Pie next.


  3. Ellen Hawley says:

    Those white dotted lines in the road? Here in Cornwall, the only people who stay inside them are the foreigners–me and my partner.


    1. VH says:

      Come to think of it, my husband is the only one in Staffordshire who stays inside them, too.
      Could that be why England maintains them? As a tourist attraction?


  4. Alfie says:

    As a young sicilian who left Italy to come to live, study and work in the UK, I strongly sympathise with your husband. I mean, look at those beautiful white lines! Your articles are hilarious, and so, so true.


    1. VH says:

      Ha ha! Though I think ellen hawley has just worked out that they are really only there to impress the foreigners ๐Ÿ˜‰
      But do you also eat baked beans for breakfast?
      The Godmother (my MIL) visited from Sicily last week and Hubby managed to get her so excited about beans that they were actually trying to work out how she culd take a few cans home with her.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. cindyfisherwoman says:

    What fun! Excellent article and visuals! Storytelling at its finest. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Bentornata nel blogosfera๐Ÿ˜Ž


    1. VH says:

      Grazie! Xxxx


  7. Roger says:

    I, too have recently and for the first and last time eaten what could be laughingly called an Italian meal at ZIZZIS.

    Have to totally agree with Henry. Absolutely appalling food.

    By the way I think your husband looks pretty cool.


    1. VH says:

      Cor, I am really REALLY glad I didn’t go there!
      If you think Hubby looks cool in those trainers I just might give them to you. Would you like the co-ordinating socks as well?


  8. Rosaria Maly says:

    Great and very entertaining insights. But I don’t get what was wrong with the off on a shopping excursion footwear. Here in the good ole USA to be thus shod would be an up-grade. Complimenti.


    1. VH says:

      Gosh! Self respecting Italians ought to have Gucci or Armani in their feet!
      Maybe we should send over some hand stitched leather-wear in a humanitarian air drop?


  9. T. Franke says:

    Great to hear of this nice re-unification of Sicilyshire. ๐Ÿ™‚ The world is small …

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mary Vella says:

    Oh MY GOD!!! I have missed you so much. Just this morning on my way out I was hoping that we would all hear from you and surprise, surprise I got your comments. Love your style of writing. Love your comments. Really missed you. Hope you are enjoying your new job. What does your husband do all day? Can he practice law in England? You all look so happy. Love that. Thank you.


    1. VH says:

      It feels good to be back, and thank you for your absolutely lovely comments! โค

      The new job is going well, thank you, though I think Hubby may be businer than me. Apart from looking after our son and being a house husband, he is setting up a company to import Sicilian and Italian foods to the UK. With Uncle Pasquale!
      He is also going to college two days a week for to improve is Eeenglish. I am not sure if it is working yet, but we are hoping….


  11. I definitely adore your humour!


    1. VH says:

      Thank you! โค๏ธ


  12. Marian Raccuglia says:

    Arancini looked delicious – were they as good as in Sicily?
    Great photos. Thank you for sharing.


    1. VH says:

      Yes, amazingly they were! He did a really impressive job, since he had been awake all night to make them fresh.


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