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…

The Sadness of Sicilians in England

There’s often something forlorn about Italians in England, isn’t there? An air of pathos hangs around them, especially in summer when they are gradually realising that it really, truly isn’t going to stop raining, not today, not before the end of their holiday, not ever. They look tragi-comically out of place, what with their glowing…

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…

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,…

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…

What are these Africans doing in Sicily?

What effect are all the African migrants having on Sicily these days? Three documentary makers and a great many blog readers have asked me about African immigrants in Sicily, and about “cultural fusion”. Until now I had seen literally no sign of any impact at all; it was as if they were all invisible. One…

What do Sicilians Look Like? Let’s dig into the DNA

What colour are Sicilians? This seems to be the most controversial and provocative question one could possibly ask in relation to Sicily. I receive a regular stream of distressed or outraged comments from people who cannot bear it when I mention that Sicilian skin spans a range of many tones. They are always Americans with Sicilian…

Schools and Bridges Collapsing in Sicily: Thanks Mafia!

Here’s a photo of a road in Sicily which collapsed just ten days after it was built. It’s near Mezzojuso, 25 miles from Palermo. It cost more than Euros 200 million – at least, that’s what the taxpayer forked out for it. The actual materials and work, no doubt, cost far less. I don’t know if…

Sour, Corrupt and dominated by the Mafia: The Citrus Industry in Sicily

Delicious juicy oranges and succulent lemons are one of the first things that spring to mind when most people think  of Sicily. The other, unfortunately, is the Mafia, but few outsiders realise how closely they are connected. Citrus fruit trees were brought to Sicily by the Muslim invaders from North Africa in the 11th century…

Dear EU Taxpayer, did you know you are funding the Mafia?

Did you know the EU has given several billion Euros to the Sicilian Mafia over the last few years? Did you know the EU gives billions of Euros every year to keep corrupt Sicilian politicians in power? Did you know it systematically destroys enterprise and commerce? Read on to find out how. Have you ever…

Dear EU tax payer, how does the Renato Guttuso Museum spend YOUR money?

British Prime Minister David Cameron was on TV recently, telling the EU they cannot have the extra 1.7 billion pounds they are asking Britain to donate by 1st December this year. Whilst he didn’t exactly give them the hand-bagging Margaret Thatcher would have, he did seem very cheesed off indeed. Nigel Farage of the UK…

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…

Big Brother Is Watching You

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….

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…