Solunto – One of the world’s first multicultural cities?

Ah, my legs hurt! What a long uphill hike that was! Solunto was a city close to Santa Flavia, on the north-western coast of Sicily. It was founded by Carthaginians (from the city that is now called Tunis) when they colonised Sicily in the 11th century B.C. That was an awfully long time ago to…

5 Top Tips: How to Park like a Sicilian

Can’t find a parking space? Sicilians can. Take a leaf out of their book. Parking Idea # 1 – The Forty-Fiver So-named because you park at 45 degrees to the pavement, this technique is ideal if the available space is not actually big enough for your car, if you know you’ll need to make a…

Knickers and Pants

I have discovered that my new-ish digital camera has much more memory than my vintage, steam-powered computer. This means I cannot upload all my lovely photos of Siracusa until I get a new one, because plugging the camera into the USB port made the computer have a kind of epileptic siezure. Since this situation is…

The Do-Good Brothers

I had to have a little operation recently. It was preceded by some blood tests in the nearest hospital, called Ospedale Buccheri La Ferla Fatebene Fratelli. The Sicilians are good at coming up with catchy names that way. Buccheri and La Ferla are the names of the founders. The Fatebene Fratelli translates as “The Do Good…

A Narrow escape from the Fashion Police

In Italy, it is against the law to emerge in public with bad hair. Italians remain housebound on bad hair days. In the summer, having white skin is also considered a serious fashion gaffe. There is simply no excuse. Strangers repeatedly threaten to report phosphorescent Celtic people like me to the fashion police. Sometimes gangs…

Seven Top Tips: How to cook pasta like a real Sicilian Godmother

When I got married, I was given a 35 person dinner service which had belonged to my husband’s grandmother. Not just a 35 person dinner service, but a nine-course 35 person dinner service. “I’m sorry a couple of items have got broken over the years,” my mother-in-law, The Godmother, apologised. A couple of pieces missing? Did…

31 Mafiosi Arrested in my Town Yesterday

They arrested 31 mafiosi in my little town yesterday, and two of them were neighbours of mine. The newspapers are saying that this has practically demolished the Mafia in this town. Personally I am not so sure. Fighting the Mafia is like trying to eliminate cockroaches. You can stamp on a couple but there are…

Sea Urchins, Anyone?

Sicilians absolutely love sea urchins – as food, rather than as wildlife. They crack them open and eat them raw by scooping their insides out with a piece of bread. This is why, off many parts of the Sicilian coast, sea urchins are becoming rare. We went to the stunning Lo Zingaro nature reserve at the…

Ten ways to tell you’ve been living in Sicily too long

1. You wear an anorak when it is 25 degrees centigrade and you don’t even feel hot. 2. You sometimes give your child an octopus to eat for dinner. 3. Whenever you get in a draught you just KNOW you will have a cervicale the next day. This is an exclusively Italian type of headache…

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…

The Ten Commandments of Sicilian Driving

1. Thou shalt not double park if thou can find somewhere to triple park instead. 2. Thou shalt not, never, ever stop to let anyone out of a side road in front of thee, unless thou fancy them a lot. 3. Thou shalt always leave rosary beads dangling distractingly off thine rear view mirror to…

Happy Valentine’s Day with some Kinky Chocolate

Sicilians are a romantic lot and they love St. Valentine’s Day. Rather than give their girlfriend sweets or champagne, most Sicilian men are more likely to take her out for a delicious organic Italian ice-cream. What better way to wish all my readers Happy Valentine’s Day than by sharing this marvellous advertisement I saw in our local…

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…

Dancing in the Street with a Homeless Nigerian

I ended up dancing in the street with a Nigerian tramp yesterday. (Tramp means “homeless person”, in case you’re American.) How does a Sicilian Housewife end up acting so weird? Well, it started with some Christmas shopping. I find this activity traumatic, for three reasons. 1. Almost all toys in Sicily are made in China…

Water water everywhere… and all in the wrong place

Sicily sits on the edges of two completely different weather systems. The edges overlap. What this means in practise is that Sicily gets way more weather than other places. This weekend, for example, Africa blew the Scirocco wind at us. This starts in the Sahara desert, builds up to 150 degrees centigrade (I never exaggerate)…

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…

What does “Confetti” mean in Italian?

Sicilians, like many other Mediterranean people, give little gifts of sugared almonds to all their friends when celebrating the key events in their lives. If they are fancily wrapped sugared almonds, they are called confetti. If the almonds also have a gift attached, the whole thing is called a bomboniera. Sicilians take this art form…

The Celebrity Chefs of Palermo – They’re Offal!

Do you eat offal? is it forbidden by your religion? Or do you just think it tastes like poop? In Palermo, fast food sold in the streets is almost all made of offal. One of the absolute classic dishes of Palermo is U pani ca meusa, which means, “bread with spleen”. I ususally give this…

THE GODMOTHER of Sicily, and how to message her on the Auntienet

I’m excited to find, in mid-2013, that my blog is approaching 1,000 subscribers. I do hope you’re all enjoying it! My readers come from exciting places all over the world. Their blogs are in many language and scripts, some of which I don’t recognise. I even have a subscriber called जागरण मिडिया सेन्टर, and I…

What did YOU do with your milk teeth?

One of my little boy’s milk teeth fell out recently. He now has two outsize grown-up size teeth at the centre of his mouth, and a space each side of them. He looks like a rodent. “Do you want to leave it under your pillow for the tooth fairy?” I asked him. “Or do you…

The Mediterranean Diet – how to do it properly

All over the world, there exists the myth of a “Healthy Mediterranean Diet,” which everyone is urged to emulate for the sake of their arteries. The Mayo Clinic (which always makes me think of Mayonnaise, anyone else?) says on its website: “Mediterranean diet: Choose this heart-healthy diet option” A cursory search on the Internet will…

Riding in a Car made of Sticky Tape

I attended a vehicular funeral last week. My friend Totò, a bright-eyed and sprightly septuagenarian, had a maroon Alfa Romeo which was, basically, made of sticky tape. I don’t mean trashy thin stuff, I mean the top quality wide, brown parcel kind. By the time I had seen his car enter the final, declining years…

How did YOU find this blog?

I have been rummaging through the statistics for my blog today. When I was new to this blogging lark, I did it obsessively. Nowadays I just take an occasional look at the search engine terms which have brought new visitors to my blog. One of the strings typed into Google that immediately jumped out at…

Stop Giving Children Homework NOW!

This is not something I am writing on a whim. Fair enough, yesterday I went through the trauma of supervising my seven-year-old son while he did his Italian Grammar homework. This was not only traumatic because I didn’t know the right answers. It was also traumatic because he was tired, bored, and doing all he…

Sicilian Women Are Scrubbers

Honestly. They spend more time scrubbing, washing and generally sanitising things than they do in any other activity, save possibly ironing. This year, I am joining in the spirit of things by spring cleaning early. I didn’t want to, but my Mother-in-law made me. I admit the place has become a little grimy but, frankly,…

Urgent! I need some Ancient Romans to build me an Aqueduct

We have no running water to our house any more. The reason is that some of the other people in our street haven’t paid their water bills for over eight years. So the water board cut off the water to the whole street. One thing I’d first like to say is, thank the Lord this…

The Top 5 causes of Death in the Home: Doing Housework

I electrocuted myself yesterday. I was cleaning the toaster and I forgot to unplug it first. That’s what having a seven-year-old with verbal diarrhoea and real diarrhoea, both at once, can do to your mental faculties. Whilst emptying the equivalent of three whole loaves of bread, transformed into burnt offerings, out of the bottom of…

Is this Racist?

I discovered recently that Dolce & Gabbana have created their Summer 2013 women’s fashion collection with an exuberantly Sicilian theme. It has also come to my attention that American and English journalists are calling it “racist”. Is it racist? Let’s have a look at it first, so we know what we’re talking about. Here’s a dress: The…