Multicultural Sicily: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ridiculous

This afternoon we went for a walk around central Palermo. In Piazza Politeama we saw these fellows. The man at the bottom was sitting cross-legged on a glass tumbler. All along Via Ruggiero Settimo there were buskers playing drums and guitars, there were fire-breathers and jugglers, there were men on stilts making balloon animals for the … More Multicultural Sicily: The Good, the Bad and the Downright Ridiculous

Christmas in Sicily with Santa’s Smallest Elf

We celebrated Christmas this year with roughly forty people. I could not count accurately as they were Sicilian, therefore unable to keep still. There were four different pasta courses. One was spaghetti with olive oil, lemon zest and cheese, served in a bowl carved out of a whole Parmesan cheese. Another pasta course was with … More Christmas in Sicily with Santa’s Smallest Elf

Festival of St Martin: Time for Children to Drink Wine and Play with Naked Flames

Throughout early November, the weather here in Sicily is often still warm and summery enough to go for a swim in the sea. We Sicilian housewives are still walking about in our boob tubes and hot pants (or something like that) while our poor fellow Europeans, up in Germany and England, are getting wet and … More Festival of St Martin: Time for Children to Drink Wine and Play with Naked Flames

What does “Confetti” mean in Italian?

Sicilians, like many other Mediterranean people, give little gifts of sugared almonds to all their friends when celebrating the key events in their lives. If they are fancily wrapped sugared almonds, they are called confetti. If the almonds also have a gift attached, the whole thing is called a bomboniera. Sicilians take this art form … More What does “Confetti” mean in Italian?

Padre Puglisi has been Beatified. Can we PLEASE talk about the Mafia now?

In Sicily, if you open your mouth and say something about the Mafia, if you just pronounce the word Mafia in public, the reaction will be sharp intakes of breath all around you and horrified silence. It is a social gaffe even more hideous than meeting your new mother-in-law with your flies undone whilst going … More Padre Puglisi has been Beatified. Can we PLEASE talk about the Mafia now?

La Traviata and the Italian Art of being ill Dramatically

Sorry I haven’t written any posts for so long. I’ve been too busy mopping up puke. My little boy has vomited almost every day for the last three months. The house smells like a bleach factory, and I am buying new mops from the local hardware store so often that the cashier there thinks I … More La Traviata and the Italian Art of being ill Dramatically

The Top 5 causes of Death in the Home: Doing Housework

I electrocuted myself yesterday. I was cleaning the toaster and I forgot to unplug it first. That’s what having a seven-year-old with verbal diarrhoea and real diarrhoea, both at once, can do to your mental faculties. Whilst emptying the equivalent of three whole loaves of bread, transformed into burnt offerings, out of the bottom of … More The Top 5 causes of Death in the Home: Doing Housework

Sicilian card games

Sicilians have their own unique playing cards. They look like this: The fishermen in my village are always out on the seafront, playing cards on upturned barrels between their fishing excursions. They all shout loud enough to startle the dead at certain card plays. They smack their winning cards down rather like a butcher hacking … More Sicilian card games