Most cultures have a puppet tradition, and the International Museum of Puppets in Palermo probably has a few examples of them all. It houses a truly marvellous collection. I loved their South East Asian section and the beautiful collection from Japan. Their African collection was evocative and haunting. I was highly excited by their Punch … More Sicilian “Pupi” – The Soldier Puppets of Charlemagne
‘SICILIAN CARD GAMES an easy-to-follow guide’ gives very clear instructions for twelve Sicilian card games, with photographic illustrations. It is the only book of Sicilian card games in print worldwide. Sicily has its own unique deck of playing cards, and lots of games exclusive to the island. Card games are an indispensable part of the … More A new book: SICILIAN CARD GAMES an easy-to-follow guide
The Carnival of Sciacca in Sicily may not be as famous as the Venice or Rio carnivals, but it is just as much fun. The day started with such heavy rain there was even talk of calling it all off, but in the end the rain stopped and the festivities started. All the children were … More Blessed by a Pregnant Nun at Sciacca Carnival
The Turks say that Istanbul is like a prostitute – beautiful, but dangerous. I decided to portray the intensely stimulating mix of beauty and danger, which so characterises Istanbul, in my novel “Evil Eye.” The day-dreamy heroine, Celeste, is dragged into a mysterious adventure of threats, violence and narrow escapes which makes its way though … More Istanbul, the Prostitute City
Mine does. He’s eight. People often comment on how much he knows about animals and their evolution. A few days ago I was watching a film with him in which this bizarre little animal appeared: “That’s a honey badger,” he told me immediately. “They love eating honey but they sometimes attack lions to steal their … More Does your child know more than you do?
Until recently, in my part of Sicily, owning an iPhone was so cutting edge and high-tech that it was basically one step away from being an astronaut. In a culture where speaking is impossible without bilateral full-arm gesticulation, it was fairly obvious that talking to people using just two thumbs would feel far too restrictive. … More Big Brother Is Watching You
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
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
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
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?
One of my little boy’s milk teeth fell out recently. He now has two outsize grown-up size teeth at the centre of his mouth, and a space each side of them. He looks like a rodent. “Do you want to leave it under your pillow for the tooth fairy?” I asked him. “Or do you … More What did YOU do with your milk teeth?
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?
My little boy had a fantastic idea yesterday: We should institute an International Joke Day. This is a day when everyone tells every one else a great joke, to cheer up the whole world. I think he is a genius, and so I officially declare that tomorrow, Monday 22 April, is International Joke Day. IF … More International Joke Day
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