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…

Reimagining Sicily – a new documentary (featuring me!)

I was very excited when Sicilian American film director Mark Spano asked if he could interview me for a documentary he was making, called Reimagining Sicily. I was particularly impressed when he managed to book nearby 17th century Villa Palagonia to do the filming; for this gorgeous villa is owned by 32 different people, none…

Merry Christmas the Sicilian way!

I am going to miss Sicilian Santa terribly this year. I shall just have to rely on Hubby to make sure there is pasta as well as turkey, that we play card games amid the debris of nutshells, and that something with tentacles somehow manages to creep onto the dining table! MERRY CHRISTMAS! BUON NATALE!…

Ancient Romans in bikinis and mini-skirts at Casale

The Villa Romana Del Casale, in Piazza Armerina, is one of Sicily’s UNESCO World Heritage sites. The villa was huge and would have been built and decorated at staggering expense. It was the manor house of a colossal agricultural estate, owned and run by an Italian aristocrat. Sicily was regarded as a terribly primitive province…

Ten things I loved doing in Sicily

We sneaked back to Sicily for a holiday a little while ago. Here’s a list of the best ten things I enjoyed doing again: UNO Laughing at my husband who had forgotten how to drive a manual car, and how to stay on the right-hand side of the road, and how to keep cool when…

The History of Sicilian Cuisine in Thirteen Invasions

Sicilian food is the original fusion cuisine, a unique mix of all of its diverse cultural heritages. The island has been at the heart of thirteen different empires over the last three millennia, and each one of them has left its mark on the Sicilian housewife’s kitchen cupboard. The Phoenicians The Phoenicians were traders and…

Yes, this package of white powder is mine

Last week I received a summons from the local post office, informing me I must present myself at their offices within an appointed deadline. The card had rubber stamps and a signature and even a RED rubber stamp, which in Italy is downright scary. Our main post office is in the western wing of the…

Buying a House in Stoke-on-Trent: the Italian point of view

We are looking for a house here in England. My Sicilian Hubby is, shall we say, going up a learning curve. He is learning to speak English. Learning to speak English from estate agents is probably not something most people would advise. They speak in a code which even English people have to learn to…

Buying a House in Italy: Where have the original features gone?

Now that we are looking for a house to buy in England, Hubby is getting a lot of surprises about how English people do it. “Are you SURE they’ll leave the kitchen behind?” he asked me in the first house we viewed. “Yep, the whole lot,” I reassured him, “even the kitchen sink.” We went…

Do you only eat fruit in season, or forced in greenhouses?

Whilst scoffing mango and strawberries with my nephew the other day, I found myself thinking of my friends in Sicily with pity. This is the season when they have pretty much no fruit, you see. Oranges fizzle out in February, and then there’s basically nothing till May. Fruit and veg in season The idea of only…

Castelbuono, the Foodies’ Paradise in Sicily

I have blogged about Castelbuono before, but not recently, so I am doing it again! We took an English friend there last summer, and she took all these lovely photos. Thank you Adrienne! Castelbuono has a medieval castle with a very long ramp at the entrance and several arches to negotiate before you get there:…

How to have a Happy Easter Sicilian Style! Buona Pasqua!

Look at this lovely gift which arrived in the post today. It came from Hubby’s ex colleagues.   It is the classic Sicilian Easter gift: a flock of Easter Lambs, all made from marzipan. Sicilians traditionally make marzipan (which is called martorana in Sicily) twice a year. Marzipan Easter Lambs They make it into lambs…

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…

Found in Translation

One of the various jobs I did in Sicily was technical translations. I specialised in translating and co-authoring medical textbooks and research papers, and legal documents. You may think this sounds dull but, trust me, they are far more entertaining than regular translations. By doing this job, I learnt that Italian doctors are world leaders…

The Villa of the Fashionista: Villa Sant’Isidoro in Aspra

I have spent eleven years being irritated by an 18th century villa near my house, because it blocks the middle of what could be a perfect road running right behind Casa Nostra into the nearest town. Despite its fancy gates, Villa Sant’Isidoro looked like a derelict building from the outside. I assumed it would fall down…

San Nicola l’Arena, a fancy Sicilian village!

San Nicola is a village in Trabia, a little way along the Sicilian coast from the one where I live, but a world apart. Where we have fish heads and peeling wooden boats, they have posh promenades and yachts in a marina.   We went there recently on a strange day which was so overcast…

Why I am teaching my son to break the rules

I was chatting on Facebook with a fellow Expat in Sicily recently about how to make children do their homework. I actually don’t think it IS always a good idea. Children need time for hobbies and a social life When my son began school, I used all means possible to make him do his homework,…

Who Cleans up after the Flower Festivals in Sicily?

Ever been to one of those Mediterranean Fiorata festivals and wondered who cleans up afterwards? The locals spend the night putting millions of flower petals, seeds, beans and nuts out all along the road to make lovely pictures and the have processions alongside them for people to admire the ephemeral art. Then the next day,…

A Time to Die – the Spanish Inquisition in Sicily

The history books about Sicily have little to say about the time of the Spanish rule. I find this strange, because the Spanish changed Sicily more than any other conqueror. The way they wanted this island is the way it still is: the Sicilians just cannot seem to shake them off.   Some history books…

Sicilian Housewife gives her Husband two Black Eyes

Hubby and I had just flopped blissfully into bed from parenting-induced exhaustion. When our kiddo has a cold, he makes sure the suffering is dished out fairly and evenly among all persons present. I believe some people can finish running a marathon with more energy than we had after a day of making lemon and honey,…

The Garden of the Kolymbetra, Agrigento

Many people visit the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily and completely miss the luscious botanical garden called the Kolymbetra.   Originally, the Kolymbetra was an exquisite artificial lake, full of freshwater fish which were bred to eat, and a colony of swans. It was surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, reflected in its…

Are you suffering from Tanorexia?

I recently found out there’s an illness called “tanorexia.” I thought I might suffer from it, being so unable to get a suntan. I went to the beach yesterday and everyone asked me “Is this the first time you’ve been to the beach this year?” Sicilians ask me that every time I go to the…

I Married a Pastafarian

I used to think Italians were Catholics but, since living here, I have found out they are devout Pastafarians.   If I make my Hubby go without eating pasta for an entire 24-hour period, he thinks he will die. He has been brainwashed since early childhood, you see. Forget vegetables! Italians are told that eating…

A Priceless Hoard of Sicilian Treasure

I first visited Siracusa two summers ago. The highlight of my trip was visiting the Medagliere (Numismatics Treasury) in the Archaeological Museum and getting to know its charming curator, Rosalba Riccioli. Blonde and vivacious, Rosalba’s passion for the 2,500-year-old gold coins and jewellery in her care – and the intriguing stories behind them – is…

Camping like Tarzan

You may have noticed I’ve fallen quiet lately. This was partly because I hoped you’d miss my witty tales of derring do around Sicily so much you would decide to buy my hilarious novel to fill the void. It was mainly because the electricity keeps getting cut off. The electricity has been cut off 42…

Home at Last!

I’m glad to have survived the heart thing, but surviving that hospital was more miraculous really. It turned into a series of Fear Factor. DAY 1 – Meeting the contestants Smell rating: Gorgonzola You need to read From my Sicilian Hospital Bed if you haven’t read that yet.   There was no bidet or shower…

From my Sicilian Hospital Bed

You might think being in hospital isn’t very funny, but that’s just because you’ve never been in a Sicilian one. A heart condition…. or not? I came in yesterday because my heart was being naughty. Apparently I have ventricular tachycardia, which is the same arrhythmia that makes professional footballers drop dead right after winning an…

Daily Life in a Sicilian Fishing Village

The fishermen in my village usually go out in these boats.     Each village along the coastline has its own particular colour scheme. Our village uses orange, white and blue, but there are some fishermen who originally came from another village along the coast where they use green instead of blue.     I always…

Into which orifice do I stick this?

In the UK, where I come from, medicine is something you swallow. In Italy, you cannot leave the doctor’s surgery with a prescription in your hand before asking the immortal question, “Into which orifice do I stick this?” Seriously, it could be any one of them. Over the years I have been prescribed things to…

The Three Ancient Super-Powers: part 3, The Romans

The last, and ultimately the most powerful, of the superpowers of the ancient world was the Roman Empire. Why were they ultimately the winners in the power struggle? We have seen decades of power struggle between the USA and the USSR. They fought the cold war using technology and financing small wars around the globe,…