Why are these refugees coming to Europe anyway?

I recently moved back to England, partly because I found my dream job, my life’s calling; and equally so that my son could go to school in peace after his school in Sicily fell down. Now that I am back in England I am realising that the level of pity and sympathy for refugees is…

Sulphur, Sicilians, and the Exodus to the USA

There is not one manufacturing industry in the world that can work without sulphur. When the industrial revolution took place in the 19th century, 90% of all the sulphur in the world came from Sicily. These are Sicilian sulphur miners: Why are they working naked? It was 40 degrees centigrade above ground and down in…

So you’re Sicilian. Are you in the Mafia?

“Mummy, why are the baddies English?” my son asked me last week. He was watching “Rio”, a cartoon film about parrots in which the bad parrot, from the Brazilian jungle, inexplicably talks with a very posh English accent. “Well, it’s just one silly cartoon,” I reassured him. Then he listed all the English baddies he…

Are the Sicilians Africans or Europeans?

The Arabs and Normans ruled Sicily in medieval times, and left a legacy I see all around me in Sicily today. I see Arabs in the girls with big dark eyes and thick black hair, or in the little boys on the beach with nut brown skin. I see Normans too, in the fishermen with…

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…

Dancing in the Street with a Homeless Nigerian

I ended up dancing in the street with a Nigerian tramp yesterday. (Tramp means “homeless person”, in case you’re American.) How does a Sicilian Housewife end up acting so weird? Well, it started with some Christmas shopping. I find this activity traumatic, for three reasons. 1. Almost all toys in Sicily are made in China…

About Jews, Greek Philosophers and Offal sandwiches

Q. What do Socrates and a spleen sandwich have in common? A. Read on to find out! There was already a significant Jewish population here in Sicily by the 5th century BC. They came with the Greeks from Athens, which also had a large Jewish community. Since the Jews influenced Greek culture a great deal…

Have we got too many immigrants?

Immigration is a hot topic in most developed countries. Apparently the Latino element in the USA turned out to vote for Obama in record numbers and are now asking for immigration policy reforms, to legitimise their not-so-legal relatives as formally recognised US residents. Ol√©! These people are mainly economic migrants, though. In Sicily, we get…