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. … More Sicilian sea urchins

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 … More A new book about Sicily, Earthquakes and Pasta for Dogs

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

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

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

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 … More Sicily’s marvellous mechanical dining table in the Palazzina Cinese

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 … More My new book out now – THE GODMOTHER

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 … More Reimagining Sicily – a new documentary (featuring me!)

Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?

All the cathedrals across Europe were built in the space of about 200 years, at the height of the crusades. They look expensive, but they were actually money machines. Whilst there may have been an element of religious fervour to them, they were also a way of demonstrating power to potential enemies and the illiterate … More Cathedral Building… or was it Economy Building?

The Baroque town of Noto, Sicily’s Ingenious City

Noto was one of the earliest cities in Sicily, first built in the Bronze age by the Sikels, one of Sicily three indigenous tribes. By early Medieval times it was a bustling city, and one of the last Arab holdouts to finally succumb to the invasion of the Normans. It retained a multicultural population and … More The Baroque town of Noto, Sicily’s Ingenious City

The Museum of a Sicilian Water Mill at Cavallo d’Ispica

We visited this lovely little museum near Siracusa a couple of years ago. It is in an old water mill, which the same family has conveted into a museum, after several generations of their family used it to mill flour. It is called the Museo Cavallo d’Ispica. They were clearly the kind of hoarders who … More The Museum of a Sicilian Water Mill at Cavallo d’Ispica