Tuesday, February 09, 2016


I cannot let the Carnevale season pass without posting a photo of yummy chiacchiere biscuits! Chiacchierare is the verb "to gossip" and the biscuits are so named either because their shape resembles that of old women's tongues [say some, unkindly] or, more likely, because of the "psst" sound they make when the pastry is dropped into the hot oil.

Meanwhile the earth of Sicily has been unable to let the season go without - well, shaking us all up a bit. There were two earthquake tremors near here in the early hours of Sunday and a further two on Monday morning [none of which I felt but friends say they did]. However, I certainly did feel a tremor at 16.35 yesterday and this one, originally reported to have been a 4.6 tremor but later reclassified as 4.2, was scary.  The depth of this tremor was reported as 4 km and it was felt in many places in the Province of Ragusa but also in Siracusa and Catania. The epicentre [originally thought to have been in Siracusa] is now said to have been the hamlet of San Giacomo Bellocozzo in Ragusa Province.  No injuries were reported but some plaster has fallen off the Cathedral of San Giorgio in Ragusa Ibla. A further, smaller tremor was reported just after 18.00.

Schools in Modica and Giarratana will be closed tomorrow but there is some confusion as to whether this is because of the tremors. If it is, it seems a sensible precaution to check the buildings but most schools in Modica were going to be closed anyway as part of the Carnevale holiday.

Sicilians have expressed their hurt and frustration at the lack of coverage of the tremors by the main news networks,who preferred to concentrate on the Sanremo Festival which began tonight. This part of Sicily is rooting for Giovanni Caccamo from Modica and Deborah Iurato from Ragusa, who are performing a duet called Via da qui. Their success would certanly cheer us up!

Monday, February 08, 2016


The last time I saw this still young man, a former A level French student of mine, it was 1989 and he was about to go off to university. It was great to meet up with him and his lovely family as they passed through Modica today. Come again soon!

U chiù granni maistru è u tempu 
Time is the best teacher

- Sicilian proverb

Saturday, February 06, 2016


I like the way the city has become a character in this song, which is about everyone who finds themselves there.  [No. 15 in the Italian charts this week.]

Luca Carboni - Bologna è una regola

Friday, February 05, 2016


I can't believe it's a year since my lovely Bertie-Pierrine came to me and we saved each other! We don't know her exact date of birth but decided to celebrate it on this day each year.

"I got a nice woolly neck-warmer for my birthday. Look - it's reversible!"

"What's this, then? Oh, it's my card!"

Happy birthday, little Bertie!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


Exactly nine years ago, I wrote about this sad incident.  It is a story that has stayed with me, partly because it was an avoidable tragedy and also because I will never forget the television pictures of Inspector Raciti's then nine-year-old son in police uniform at his father's funeral.

Much has since been said and written about the events in Catania of 2nd February 2007 and Inspector Raciti's colleagues have continued to honour him. Yesterday's commemoration in Catania - which took place as the rest of the city was preparing to celebrate its patron, Sant'Agata - was a little different, however, for during the ceremony the Inspector's jacket and helmet [which he had been wearing on that terrible night] were at last returned to his widow.

Dignitaries and police officers from the State Police Mobile Units of Catania, Reggio Calabria and Palermo, representing police from all over Italy, attended the ceremony and remembered other colleagues who had been killed in the line of duty.

Let us hope that the return of the above effects to the family brings them the comfort they seek.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Number 5 in the Italian charts. I like this:

Alessandra Amoroso - Stupendo fino a qui

Friday, January 29, 2016


It seems I wasn't the only person in Modica to be a little perplexed a few days ago to see "Cioccolato di Modica" advertised in the Lidl leaflet at €1,49 per bar [the usual price being around €2,00]. Some citizens have gone into what I will call "chocoshock" at this underselling of a traditional product of which the city is justly proud and which certainly interests tourists.

It must be said that the chocolate maker who landed the contract had a perfect right to do so, if these bars are being made by traditional Modican chocolate methods, but other chocolate makers and some politicians here feel that it is high time Modican chocolate received Igp [ EU Protected Geographical Indication] status.  A dossier applying for this has been in preparation for some time and is said to be "almost" ready [which, given Italian flexibility, could mean tomorrow or five years from now]. Then there will be an interminable wait for a decision.

This is one case in which that plentiful Sicilian quality, pazienza, is likely to melt away.

Chocolate being made to traditional recipes at Bonajuto, Modica

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Number 17 in the Italian charts, this song is kind of growing on me:

Laura Pausini - Simili

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Originally shown at Milan Expo and published on Vimeo in September, the video below has now, with much fanfare, been uploaded to YouTube and is being hailed here as a masterpiece. It is certainly a break with traditional clips promoting Sicily and has been conceived with social networks in mind. The target market is Northern Europe, where people are known to start planning their holidays in January.

I'd very much like to know what all of you think before I divulge my own opinion but I do want to congratulate the Comune di Ragusa for having the courage to do something in a new way and I wish them every success.

Ragusa - easy to reach, hard to leave
Another, shorter version [1m.05] is also available on YouTube.
The director is Riccardo Lupo.

Saturday, January 16, 2016


This song in French from rapper Maître Gims is number 1 or 2 in the Italian charts, depending on which list you are looking at:

 Maître Gims - Est-ce que tu m'aimes?

Friday, January 15, 2016


In 2009, I wrote an article for Italy Magazine which began,

"Who really knows when a journey towards fulfilment begins? Looking back, I sometimes think that my journey towards the island of Sicily began much earlier than that first visit in October 1992. And, like most of the important events in my life, it began with a book:

I don’t know quite why, browsing in a bookshop in Pinner, North London in 1967, I picked up a paperback entitled The Leopard, a novel by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa......."

This is, of course, the book which inspired the famous 1963 Visconti film starring Burt Lancaster, Alain Delon and Claudia Cardinale. Who could ever forget the ballroom scene? 
Well, now it has been reported that there is going to be a remake and Miss Cardinale is not happy about it, having asked how anyone can think of making a film version of Il Gattopardo without Luchino Visconti.  However, it turns out that the remake is not going to be a remake but a film about Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's life based on David Gilmour's biography The Last Leopard [which I also mentioned in the above article]. That's all right, then ... or is it?  
The new film is the brainchild of London-based filmmaker Demian Gregory and will include parts of the novel which were left out of the original film but there is some confusion here about rights. According to Variety, Mr Gregory has obtained the adaptation rights of the original film but other reports state that it may be more difficult for him to obtain film rights for the book. Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi di Lampedusa, the author's adopted son, has confirmed that the new project is not a remake but seems to think that more time will be required to deal with the question of the book rights.
The Italian legal system is not famous for its speed so it remains to be seen whether filming will start in Palermo this year as planned.
Pazienza, Mr Gregory!

Saturday, January 09, 2016


We haven't heard from the lovely Mr Buanne for a long time, so I think we should remedy that:

Patrizio Buanne - Se mai ti parlassero di me [Smile]

Friday, January 08, 2016


Memories of Simi - Kizoa Online Movie Maker

My lovely little girl, it is only now, a year after your death, that I have been able to bring myself to go through your photos and I have not cried too much, for the memories are happy ones.  I'll try to remember you running up the lawn with your tuggy toy in Cardiff, lying contentedly in my arms on the journey from Catania to Modica after the great adventure of our flight to Sicily and, most of all, your "night game" of bounding towards me from the hallway to the bedroom with tuggy, not realising I could see your reflection in the glass balcony doors.  Some nights, even now, I look for you in the glass and I see you, darling, I see you.  And I see you when I'm out with Bertie-Pierrine, whom I'm sure you sent. Sometimes I say, "Walk with us, Simi" and you do.

We buried you near the sea, with tuggy toy.  There the waves that will one day reunite us lull your sleep.  Thank you again for all the love.


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