Scala dei Turchi, beware the Instagram models on the white cliffs of Sicily!

Scala dei Turchi, which means the “Turkish staircase”, is on Sicily’s southern Realmonte coast in the Provincia di Agrigento. The Sicilians are a bit sketchy about foreign nationalities. The place used to see lots of pirate raids from North Africa, and since Arabs, Moroccans, Tunisians and other foreigners are basically the same thing, the Turks…

Sicily’s Valley of the temples, Agrigento

There’s a modern town called Agrigento on Sicily’s southern coast, but alongside it, in a fertile valley, lies an ancient Greek city also called Agrigento. These cities give their name to the Sicilian Province of Agrigento. Agrigento was founded around 582–580 BC by Greek colonists from nearby Gela, who named it “Akragas”. In its heyday,…

Castellamare del Golfo

A day in Castellamare Del Golfo involves seeing the sea a lot. It’s quite romantic! It’s in the Trapani region, which is in the Mediterranean but looking out in the direction of the Atlantic. I think it gets extra wind for that reason – there’s something about this side of Sicily that feels more adventurous…

Sicily’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites

I think you can tell the people at UNESCO were a bit overwhelmed with how much wonderful stuff there is in Sicily. When they were naming World Heritage Sites, they just lumped together nine towns all in one go, or an entire group of islands. Each part of these sites merits a listing in its…

Sicilian sea urchins

We were at My sister-in-law’s in Sciacca, on Sicily’s south coast, last summer when a friend turned up in swimming trunks, carrying a bucket. He had just come back from the beach with a ridiculously large quantity of sea urchins. Several bucketfulls, in fact. So he decided to give a bucket of them to us….

A trip to Sicily and it’s Rather Fishy

I wouldn’t normally share photos taken in a supermarket. In fact, I wouldn’t normally take photos in a supermarket. But Sicilian supermarkets are different. First I got distracted at the fish counter. Then I couldn’t decide which cheese to choose. Moving in closer didn’t help. By the time we got onto the salami I was…

A new book about Sicily, Earthquakes and Pasta for Dogs

I have just published a new book about living in Sicily. It includes all the usual adventures, among them the time we were in an earthquake, some thoughts on the Sicilian language and whether it will survive, and a debate on the fact that in Sicily you can buy really, I mean really really large…

Sicily in Jewels: The precious legacy of Duke Fulco Di Verdura

I wrote a few days ago about Villa Niscemi, once home to Fulco Di Verdura, the Sicilian duke whose memoir so enchanted me. As an adult he moved to New York and became a jeweller. His dazzling artistic legacy has Sicily in every jewel. First let’s look at this elephant: He was inspired by the iconic…

Christmas stocking filler: A simple guide to classic Sicilian card games

What kind of Christmas would it be for a Sicilian family without playing riotous card games amid a heap of pistachio nut shells? Join in the tradition this year with some bargain stocking-filler gifts. The bestselling pocket edition This book gives very clear instructions for twelve Sicilian card games, with photographic illustrations.  It is the…

Villa Niscemi, Palermo – the most lavish palace in all Sicily

One day strolling through Palermo – OK, staggering in the heat – I chanced to notice a pair of gates which felt very familiar. I had never seen them before, yet I knew them so well. I knew there was going to be a false river inside them inhabited by expensive imported ducks. So we…

Sicily’s marvellous mechanical dining table in the Palazzina Cinese

One of the things that has made generations of English aristocrats fall in Love with Sicily over the centuries is the mutual passion for eccentrics. I don’t mean subtle characters, like one of my beloved uncles whose favourite food was broad bean and custard sandwiches. I mean flamboyant filthy rich people who could construct a…

My new book out now – THE GODMOTHER

THE GODMOTHER THE SICILIAN HOUSEWIFE DIARIES Volume 1 The journal of an English woman handling parenthood, the Mafia and a Sicilian mother-in-law, all at once. (And yes, that is myself on the cover.) ‘The Godmother’, the first book in the series, introduces the formidable mother-in-law and godmother to seven children who dominates family life. To…