When I had just graduated and worked in London as a teacher of English as a foreign language, I met so many extraordinary characters from all around the world that I had enough inspiration to write about twenty novels. The only one I have actually written is a crime thriller called Friends with Secrets. … More What inspired my crime novel FRIENDS WITH SECRETS?
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 … More Ancient Romans in bikinis and mini-skirts at Casale
Palermo Cathedral was erected in 1185 by Walter Ophamil (or Walter of the Mill), the Anglo-Norman archbishop of Palermo and the Norman King William II’s minister. One of his close relatives had Monreale cathedral built during an overlapping time period, and they were therefore regarded as competing with each other for glory. The Normans had … More Palermo Cathedral
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 … More Ten things I loved doing in Sicily
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 … More The History of Sicilian Cuisine in Thirteen Invasions
Sicily has all kinds of medical conditions that don’t exist anywhere else. Here’s a comprehensive list, just in case you get one of them on holiday. Your doctor at home will know nothing about them. 1. Cervicale, caused by getting hit by the air (colpo d’aria) The dreaded cervicale is a pain in the neck, and … More How to avoid Liver-ache, getting hit by the air, and other Sicilian Diseases
That festive time of year is approaching, when Sicilians gather for intimate family dinners of 25 to 40 people, eat more than their body weight in food, and shout to relatives at the opposite end of the table about how good the fourth pasta course tastes. It’s also, of course, the time when we … More Sicilian Christmas Gift Ideas
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 … More Yes, this package of white powder is mine
Sicily isn’t usually the first place people think of going for holidays in winter, but my German friends pointed out to me it is actually a great choice. This isn’t just because you can often get winter sunshine, but also because there is lots going on, you can see the sights without the crowds, and … More Top Ten things to do in Sicily in Winter
What happens to Italians when they live in England? I became deeply worried about my husband and son this summer, after they had been living in the Stoke-on-Trent area for six months. When one has married an Italian, one simply doesn’t expect to be putting up with this type of thing: When I intercepted … More The Italian Festival of Sicilyshire
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 … More Buying a House in Stoke-on-Trent: the Italian point of view
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 … More Buying a House in Italy: Where have the original features gone?
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 … More Do you only eat fruit in season, or forced in greenhouses?
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 … More The Sadness of Sicilians in England