A Scandalous Story about the Mafia, Extortion and Cake

Sicily’s Anti-Extortion spokesman is Arrested while Extorting 100k Euros In one of the most delicious news items ever reported since I’ve been living in Sicily, it turns out that one of the main men in charge of combating extortion in Sicily has just been arrested… for extortion. It was “Aggravated extortion,” in fact, which means…

Chivalrous Knights and Cloaked Assassins: Italy’s Five Martial Arts

When you say “Martial Arts,” most people think of Karate chops, Judo throws and the other unarmed combat techniques of the Far East. Yet it’s actually Italy and Greece which have the oldest martial arts traditions in the world. All they need is someone as cool as Bruce Lee to make them world famous! Here’s my…

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…

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…

Brain Drain, Sicilian Talent, and the World’s Oldest University

Did you know the world’s oldest university was founded by a Sicilian? It’s in Cairo, and he actually founded the whole city, too. This shows the terrible problem of Brain Drain has existed in Sicily far longer than most people realise. To get a concept of how big an issue this is, consider that there…

Dolce and Gabbana pay tribute to Pope Francis?

The Sicilians adore Pope Francis. This is not just because he once worked as a nightclub bouncer and is way more down-to-earth than any other pontiff in living memory. He is the first pope ever to condemn the Mafia, repeatedly and unequivocally. He rejects the pomp and wealth of the traditional church and genuinely helps…

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…

What do Dead People Eat?

In Sicily, they eat this: It looks like baskets of fruit, but it is all made from martorana, which Sicilians will rush to tell you is nothing to do with marzipan. Martorana is made from ground almonds, sugar and a little water, nothing else. Since Sicilians refuse to use anything except the freshest organic almonds,…

Buying a house in Sicily! Where they cost 1 Euro!

I have been back in Sicily for a month and I’ve only just got my head together well enough to write a new post. After three months in the quiet English Cotswolds, I was suffering from extreme culture shock. I realised how much I love this place, and I also realised that having dozens of Sicilians…