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messina: ordinary people

  Like most people that have been to Messina, I had passed through many times but always only to use the ferry services that run between Villa San Giovanni and Messina, or in other words, to cross the thin strip of water that separates Sicilia from the rest of Italy, the rest of Europe, which might as well be the rest...

villalba: the rebirth of a church

I’ve been travelling for the last few weeks with Gina Mastrosimone, and we’ve come to Villalba to meet her Sicilian family for the first time, most of whom now live in France. We’re here on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. The mix of languages is fascinating, an Italian-French-Sicilian soup, rarely a complete sentence leaving anyone’s mouth that isn’t a concoction of...

noto

DAS,,,, UN,,,, UN,,,UN,,,,Kapu-chino?', asks the German woman, her voice revealing that she is having what she considers an 'international moment'. One of a party of twenty-five or so, the middle-aged Germans line the outdoor cafes along the main corso here in Noto, drinking rounds and rounds of milky coffee while sitting in the sun. Nearly in uniform (hiking socks with re-enforced woollen heels, clog-type...

ragusa: i bimbi, i formaggi e domani

I think we're all guilty of it a bit, this assuming that Sicily is always a bit behind the rest of Italy. I live in the South and even I do it. I couldn't have been more wrong though, especially with what is happening in Ragusa. The fact that it involvs a 700-year old cheese makes it all the more captivating. If you...

trapani: the best olive oil in the world

There are few very cities I love more than Trapani. The place feels like a series of escalating good news. The city is on peninsula, the whole thing build on rock on sand. Turn a corner and where you expect the next street to be you find bobbing blue boats, their hulls waxy from fresh, sky-blue paint. Trapani is architecturally...

Carini: Sfincione! Sfincione! Sfincione!

From Palermo, and if you happen to be on an over-loaded bicycle, you'll only need a few hours to reach a little town called Carini. You could easily miss it if you weren't looking out for it. And if you weren't expected. We were. We had an appointment. It was just one of those things that comes together, someone that knows...

Il Vero Cannolo Siciliano

I had never thought of a cannolo ('cannolo' is one, 'cannoli' any number higher than that) as an artisanal product before, not remotely. To be honest, I never much think of cannoli at all, their flavour has always been too sweet and rich for me. (I've always appreciated Hemingway's saying, that dessert is for people that don't drink enough). And aside...

Nino's Salty Wines

It was the first phone call I placed. 'Nino', I said. 'I'm coming to Sicily'. 'Outstanding! 'The finocchietto in the garden is almost ready', he said. There was a long silence. 'Nino?', I asked. 'Are you there?' I heard him swallow. 'And I know where I can locate some excellent strawberries. I also have a friend that is a baker'. I've only known him...

Gaspare and The 'M' Word

  Meet Gaspare…. Philosopher… Bicycle- enthusiast. Ex-police officer. Drinks wine every day. Doesn’t know a damn thing about the stuff. I just had rounded a stunningly-beautiful corner when Gaspare saw me looking at my map. He threw one leg over to the side of his bicycle and rode up, stopping perfectly, something a show-off teenager would do. I was endeared immediately. What’s the best way to Trapani, I...