Mount Etna, Europe’s Biggest Volcano

Imagine my shock and embarrassment when I suddenly realised, after 11 years in Sicily, I had never blogged about Mount Etna! Now I have finished clutching my pearls in horror, I am rectifying this oversight forthwith. Mount Etna is Europe’s largest volcano, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is not only the biggest, but the…

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,…

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…

How to Queue-hop in front of a Sicilian

If queue-hopping were an Olympic sport, the Sicilians would win gold every time. Yet recently I beat them at their own game. My son has a massive amount of blood tests. We always go to the same clinic, as the people who work there are my friends. One of the men looks exactly like Johnny…

The Kind of Blogs that Make Money

Since I’m skint, and my part of Sicily has 49% unemployment, I’ve been researching how to make money from blogging. If this doesn’t work, my only option will be to work in one of Sicily’s 1,456,998 Chinese shops selling tiny polyester clothes which smell of mothballs. I’ve found out there are three types of blogs…

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…

A new book: SICILIAN CARD GAMES an easy-to-follow guide

  ‘SICILIAN CARD GAMES an easy-to-follow guide’ gives very clear instructions for twelve Sicilian card games, with photographic illustrations.  It is the only book of Sicilian card games in print worldwide. Sicily has its own unique deck of playing cards, and lots of games exclusive to the island.  Card games are an indispensable part of the…

Blessed by a Pregnant Nun at Sciacca Carnival

The Carnival of Sciacca in Sicily may not be as famous as the Venice or Rio carnivals, but it is just as much fun. The day started with such heavy rain there was even talk of calling it all off, but in the end the rain stopped and the festivities started. All the children were…

Does your child know more than you do?

Mine does. He’s eight. People often comment on how much he knows about animals and their evolution. A few days ago I was watching a film with him in which this bizarre little animal appeared: “That’s a honey badger,” he told me immediately. “They love eating honey but they sometimes attack lions to steal their…

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…