Monday, June 30, 2008


Walking back from work with shopping in 37 C this evening, I must have paused a couple of times on the "home stretch". "Signora, it's heavy and I will carry it for you", uttered a familiar voice behind me and before I could reply a male neighbour had relieved me of my bags, raced up the road with them and deposited them at the entry door to the condominio. I not only reflected that this has never happened to me in the UK, but started thinking about the other "little courtesies" that I encounter during my daily life in Sicily:

When you enter Raffaele the hairdresser's, for instance, you are invited to "sit down and rest yourself" whilst you are served a refreshing cold drink; only when they consider that you have recovered a little from the heat outside would they dream of starting your shampooing process and that's fine with me! When I first started this blog and had few readers I also mentioned that, during that first, stifling summer when I was in the little house in Modica Bassa, I had come up to Raff's for my hairdo and he instructed one of his staff to drive me back, as he didn't want me waiting for a bus in the heat. His thoughtfulness at that time is something that I always remember at this stage in the year.

Recently, at the Altro Posto, Giorgio the manager has been filling up my ice bag for me almost daily so that I can put it on my ankle at work and get through the afternoons reasonably comfortably. I wouldn't even dare to ask in a UK bar but here you are assured it is no trouble at all.

Then there is the other helpful neighbour who always asks if I need some packs of mineral water and brings them regularly. Believe me, when you don't have transport, such a gesture is really appreciated! [In such a case, it is not so much that people in the UK would not help you if they realised; it is , rather, that sometimes those who have transport simply cannot visualise that being without it can be a problem .]

Last week I told my neighbour upstairs that I have a British friend staying with me and she immediately offered to drive us around to all the nearby beach locations so that we can take photos, enjoy them and, of course, blog about them. And we shall go, reader, just as soon as the weather cools a little.

At the deli down the road Mr T.... is always concerned that the carrier bags into which he loads my purchases are comodi [comfortable] and he stretches the handles to make them so. If I've bought a bottle of olive oil, he gets very worried and double-warns me each time not to just dump the bags on the tiled floor in relief when I arrive home, thus breaking the container of the precious substance. [Sometimes I think Mr T.... would make rather a good psychologist!]

When James's missing suitcase finally arrived in Modica after a fortnight, the student whom I was teaching when I got the phone call from the carrier didn't hesitate to offer help. "Let's go now and meet the carrier in my car - we can't take chances." There was no comeback from either her or my boss later. Human needs at that time prevailed.

Of my long-term friends here I have written often and gratefully: they know I could never have managed without them and, as I approach the third anniversary of the day I moved into this apartment, I recall the summer of 2005 and all the help they unstintingly offered me. I thank them now, as then, from the bottom of my heart.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


... this afternoon 15 or so fortunate people were served a sumptuous feast worthy of the Prince of Salina himself. James and I were lucky enough to have been invited by the hostess, my dear friend Annunziata.

Let me describe the atmosphere: as we arrive, at around 11.30 am., we see a table covered in white linen set up in a cool courtyard area. Grandchildren are there, crawling along the tablecloth towards us and demanding cuddles from these new visitors. We happily oblige and no one worries about the state of the tablecloth subsequently! Then our host offers us a walk around the outside of the property and off we go, grandchild insisting on holding the hands of her newly found zia and zio. Unfortunately I cannot complete the circuit due to my ankle problem, but no one minds when I amble back to the little courtyard on my own. Other guests have arrived during this interval and all greet me, and James, too, when he returns from his expedition; some wander straight outside again, where they enjoy the rolling countryside before us, whilst the women tend to gather in the kitchen, each offering advice about the dishes which are now being cooked in earnest. The aroma from these now makes us both so hungry that we nearly collapse!

Finally, at 1.30 pm., we are all gathered a tavola and the main dishes are triumphantly brought in: there is pollo ripieno [ a famous Sicilian dish of boned chicken stuffed with minced chicken, veal, pork, pecorino cheese and all sorts of other wonderful flavourings], a dish of beautifully cooked rice and a salad of home-grown, organic greens. Just as we feel replete, our hostess brings two dishes of bollito [boiled, mixed meats in a tomato sauce] "just to soak up the rest of the rice", she says. It tastes of lovingly prepared food, of long-ago days when you felt cherished and looked after, and, above all, of homeliness in the best sense of the word.

A little pause ensues whilst we sup the wine that tastes of Sicily and the sun and then out come the dolci [sweet dishes] that we have all brought, among them what I can best describe as Sicilian nut clusters, called brutte ma buone ["ugly but beautiful"]. I must say I found nothing ugly in them and they certainly had a beautiful taste!

Just as poor James was thinking, "This must be the end" [for we had had coffee by now] there appeared dishes of the sweetest apricots either of us had ever partaken of anywhere, a similar dish of plums and mounds of the juiciest watermelon you ever saw!

Even I was thinking, "This must be the end" at this point, but a final delight came in the form of "Giovanella's cake" and I have to tell you it was quite a cake; its deliciousness remains with me as I write.

Oh - I almost forgot! The dessert wine served was an excellent moscato di Noto, which partnered the lovely Sicilian almonds perfectly. James turned out to be very partial to both!

The most amusing part of the day for me - the antics of the grandchildren apart - was our host's demonstration of how votes are counted in Sicily [for the run-off vote between left and right mayoral candidates takes place in Modica today and tomorrow]: "Well", said he, throwing a slice of bread onto a plate, "that's 2 votes". [Another slice then landed on the plate.] "That's 6 and if you turn your back for a moment that's 8!" I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions, reader, but maybe there's veritas in the old Moscato!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Oh, I will, Patrizio, I will!

Buon fine di settimana a tutti.


Friday, June 27, 2008


- With an easy one to start you off:

M The "city of 100 churches".

O Sicilian puppet theatre, - - - - - dei Pupi.

D A type of small tomato, - - - - - - - - - .

I Name of both a fishing village and a hoilday resort near Palermo, - - - - - delle Femmine.

C Ancient orator, quaestor of Sicily from 75 - 70 BC.

A Sant' - - - - - , patroness of Catania.

Highlight below for answers:

Modica; opera; datterini; Isola; Cicero / Cicerone; Agata.


40 C again today so for once we forsook the robust cooking and the crowd at the Altro Posto and wandered down to the Caffè Consorzio to sit under an olive tree and partake of a more refined Mediterranean menu:

First, these beautifully presented antipasti were offered. [The bowl contained couscous with vegetables.] Then James chose noce di vitello [veal] whilst I went for the medaglie di maiale con salsa di pomodorini arrosti [medallions of pork in a sauce of the freshest, tiniest Modican tomatoes]. We both had roasted vegetables as a contorno.

Finally, a gelato misto for each of us, topped with fresh plums.

All this plus drinks, the breeze, the calm and the atmosphere for 31 euros [for the two of us]. What more could anyone want? Coffee, by the way, was on the house.

James gives his impressions here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Hot, hot, hot today, with the Sacro Cuore thermometer registering +40C as I walked back at 5pm. So just what I needed on the way was this ice-cold tea with some goodly dollops of lemon granita [water-ice] in it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Yes, the Welshcakes distillery has reopened! In order to use up some of the plums my kind neighbour gave me on Friday, I decided to make plum liqueur today: the plums have to macerate, with crumbled cinnamon, in white wine for 5 days; then the mixture will be strained, sugar added and it will all be heated gently. When it is cool, some pure alcohol will be added , it will be strained again and left for a month.
Answer to last night's "Where in Sicily?"
"Welcome" mosaic at a house in Morgantina.

Monday, June 23, 2008


- And double marks if you can work out what it is!

Answers on tomorrow's post.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


The condominio water supply went off last night, causing me the usual frustration. Now, James and I are good friends but we still kind of creep around each other regarding - err - bathroom needs, so he very chivalrously went out twice this morning to find a bar with a decent loo [these establishments are not as rare as when I first visited Sicily in 1992 but seeking them out still takes some effort].

Anyway, it seems our hero had quite an exciting time, sitting on the terrace with the local pensioners, sipping his cappuccino and taking in the scene. He arrived back with these tasty Sicilian savoury pastries and lemon granita for us both - what a decadent and delightful breakfast!

Meanwhile, I had phoned Mr C.... the water lorry driver, explained that I had rung the office on Friday to order a refill but that we had run out, and he immediately agreed to deliver this afternoon, which he did. If you have never been without running water gushing from your tap when you need it, reader, you cannot imagine what a relief this was!

Now, how to help a man with a bad back: it was dottoressa Simi to James's rescue this afternoon!

Finally, for those of you interested in the election results: after all that, the mayoral vote was too close to call in Modica and there is to be a run-off ballot between left and right here next week!

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Here's another treat from our angel Patrizio for Leslie, jmb and the other ladies who share my enthusiasm for him.

May your own angels protect you this Saturday night.

Friday, June 20, 2008


James has done his back in [nothing to do with me, you naughty people!] so I thought I'd have a little quiz over here tonight:

S Here you will find both a Roman and a Greek amphitheatre, plus the Ear of Dionysius.
S- - - - - - - .

I Legend has it that you will live long if you are an inhabitant of this town. I- - - - - . [Help is here.]

C C- - - - - - siciliana, a famous Sicilian dessert.

I Sicilian pastries. Although sweet, they contain beef and their name is a corruption of Spanish empanadilla. I- - - - - - - - - - - . [Help is here.]

L Giuseppe Tomasi di L- - - - - - - - , author of Il Gattopardo [The Leopard].

I Municipal office that drives this blogger crazy! Ufficio I- - - - -.

A Site of the Valley of the Temples. A- - - - - - - - .
Highlight below for answers:
Siracusa / Syracuse; Ispica; Cassata; Impanatigghe; Lampedusa; Idrico; Agrigento.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Hi, folks! Simi here.

I had my summer haircut today and got my nails done, too [which is more than my mummy has managed, recently]. Not before time, any of this! My friend Mr Enzo from the doggie-beauty-parlour picked me up at 4.30 pm and he told mummy we'd be back at around 7.30. Well, he can't help being an Italian, can he? So we got back at 8.45. I have it on good authority from lo zio James that mummy was pacing the floor and calling for her baby!

Well, I think I look most elegant and mummy and Uncle James say I look like Audrey Hepburn [who?!] in Roman Holiday [whatever that is]. I do think I'm starting a fashion, though - Mme Sarkozy, eat your heart out - as all the doggie-males in this street gave me Italian wolf-whistles upon my return, One even wailed his adoration for me from his balcony as we passed, just as an Italian lover should!

Mummy says we must make no apology for again featuring the lovely Patrizio and this song here. [I prefer that black poodle down the road myself, but there's no accounting for taste with humans!]

'Bye for now, fans.
Simi xx


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


- but not in that order:

1. As I was strolling along with Simi this evening, my kind neighbour asked, "Would you like some plums?" She then proceeded to fill a carrier bag with half the produce of her tree. These smell and taste sublime.
2. This irregularly-shaped peach was among a kilo I got from the greengrocer's. I cannot help thinking that it would not be sold in Britain. Here people would look at you strangely if you were to refuse it for what, after all, can be wrong with the taste?
3. James mentioned that he hadn't had a whole pizza since he has been here, so tonight we sauntered along to the pizzeria in the square, where I had a diavola [spicy Italian sausage, mushrooms, olives and prosciutto] and James had a specially made concoction of peppers and salame pizza.
4. I finally got him to taste my favourite dessert, gel al limone, also in the pizzeria. "Blob!" was his comment on one of my posts featuring this dolce, but I think he appreciates it now! Again, I just love the way Sicilians decorate this dessert.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The Egyptian authorities announced today that on 7th June a boat carrying about 150 clandestini [would-be illegal immigrants to Europe] was wrecked off the coast of Libya. The boat was trying to reach the shores of Italy. 40 passengers are known to have drowned and at least 100 are missing. Two survivors, a Bengali and an Egyptian, have stated that the other passengers were mainly from Morocco, Algeria and Bangladesh and that teenagers are among the dead. One has also said that each passenger paid the equivalent of $2000 to partake in this voyage of doom.

A UN spokesperson in Italy has pointed out that the number of bodies of these poor souls now being found in the Sicilian Channel indicates that there are far more tragic shipwrecks than we know about and has referred to the "silent" tragedies of the sea.

EU help in this situation is again being requested.

Yesterday morning 27 clandestini managed to reach the shores of Sicily from a boat wrecked off the southern coast of the island. A further 87 were saved by the Italian coastguard. 28 Somalis who had hung on to the side of the sinking boat were saved by an Italian fishing vessel.

Source: Il Giornale di Sicilia [unavailable online].

I have just read that another boat carrying 52 clandestini, among them 5 women, has been saved 27 miles off Lampedusa. Last night a boat carrying 72 was intercepted.

Meanwhile weather conditions worsen in the Sicilian Channel, with the sea at Force 4 and likely to increase plus a Force 6 south-easterly wind.
There but for the grace go all of us....

Sunday, June 15, 2008


My boss arrived at 4pm to drive me to the polling station [she is a local candidate and is leaving nothing to chance!] I was whisked off, proudly clutching my gloriously stamped voting paper.

Did I expect things to be that simple? Well, no, not really, reader, so I was not totally surprised when the 4 members of staff manning the room looked perplexed and concluded that they could not allow me to vote because the paper did not have the "electoral code" imprinted upon it.

So off we dashed to the electoral office in Modica Bassa yet again, where the officers declared that of course the paper was valid and what was the matter with them in the polling station? They then printed yet another document, highlighting upon it all references to EU law which state that I have the right to vote. They also wrote their phone number upon this.

Back at the polling station, the poor staff still did not know what to do [probably they had never seen such an authorisation before] and so decided to call the Presidente [presiding officer] who arrived a few moments later carrying several impressive-looking tomes on electoral law. He sat himself down at a corner table, perused the new document and all the relevant sections in his scholarly books and we could see that this was likely to take some time. "Can't you call the office?" pleaded my boss. "This is my job", replied the gentleman. Pazienza!

After twenty endless minutes, suddenly he grinned at me and called over to the other staff, "Fa votare la signore" ["Let the lady vote"] and finally I exercised my democratic rights in my new country.

As we left, the two policemen on duty at the door, who had been watching our comings and goings with interest, asked us if everything was OK. We explained what had happened and then a smile of recognition crossed the face of one of them, who exclaimed, "But I know you! I came to your school last week to inform you that you had to take your electoral posters down." He seemed very proud of this achievement and neither of us felt inclined to spoil his day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Well, it all happened this morning: first the speedy-stair-and-landing cleaning duo arrived at around 8 am [the crack of dawn to me] driving Simi into a frenzy of barking and toy-shaking. No sooner had she and I settled down after this than the water lorry arrived - not before time, too, as the cisternful we bought 2 weeks ago was about to run out. I am assuming, therefore, that the new gara [competition] for the delivery contract has taken place and that it has been awarded to the same companies, as this refill was brought by the same driver who always came before. Then, about half an hour later the buzzer went and it was the man from the electoral office, bearing my smart electoral paper, duly stamped and signed by the all-important commissario straordinario.

Out and about later, I saw that our local greengrocer had cavagne [receptacles used to store ricotta cheese in times gone by] and traditional brooms hanging outside. I asked if I could take a photo and the kindly owner insisted on taking one of me holding some as well!

Our lovely mini pears and plums are back, a sure sign that the summer is under way.

The last two photos show today's complimentary nibbles at the Altro Posto and what I call a "real" ice lolly - a heavenly nero Perugina with tangerine sorbet in the middle.

What more could a girl want to start the weekend?

Friday, June 13, 2008


There I was, sitting innocently at work doing some preparation before class this morning when the phone went and it was my boss: "I am coming to get you right now and you have to come down to the electoral office in Modica Bassa to register to vote!" [My boss, being a candidate in the municipal elections, will not accept my British indolence as an excuse.] It was 11.20 by this time and I had to sign the papers by midday! In the background I could hear electoral officers asking, "Is England in the EU?" [I didn't think it appropriate to shout out "Britain, if you don't mind!"] and then someone said, "They can't be - they've got sterling and not the euro!" Without losing my pazienza I explained that the euro was nothing to do with EU membership. Then I was asked if I had residenza [permission to live here], I answered in the affirmative and, lo and behold, they "found" me on the computer!

Seven minutes later, boss arrived, said we'd have to pick up my ID documents from home - lord knows why, as it is fairly obvious that if you have residenza here you have had to show these to get it in the first place - but again, I didn't argue and dashed into my bedroom to retrieve these, confusing both James and Simi in my haste.

11.59 and we arrive at the office. My documents are whisked off to be photocopied yet again, all the papers are ready, I am treated like a Queen, sign them and by 12.01 we are done. "When the papers are stamped", said the kindly lady clerk [for everything has to be literally rubber-stamped in triplicate] "the voting papers will be brought to your house". All smiles, handshakes and grazie then, and now I await the courier in the morning. I almost exist in this city!
"If they weren't sure about England being in the EU, it's a good thing neither of us mentioned Wales", I remarked to my dear boss on the way back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Many students have been panicking today at the thought that the English oral exam is finally upon them, ie., it will happen on Monday. I tell them that anyone who claims they are not nervous about a speaking exam is lying, that a little tension is a good thing but that, above all, they need an early night on Sunday in order to face the ordeal with a clear head. I also remind them that the "ordeal" will last, at most, for 15 minutes, so it is not going to kill them.

Then we gave out the timetables and they all just fell about laughing! The times, you see, read something like, "Student X - 14. 29 - 14.38" and they think this British precision hilarious. "And what time is your exam?" I asked my last student this afternoon. "Oh, about 16.40", said he, casually. "No", I replied. "It says 16.29 and that means 16.29 and not 11 minutes later". Then inform them, as we all did, that they need to be at the School at least 15 minutes before the scheduled time and you literally have your students rolling in the aisles!

I take my hat off to our administrator, Paola, who has patiently coordinated all this. Not the least of her difficulties has been that the examiner is due to start at 13.00 on Monday. Now, given the Italians' propensity to sit down to lunch at exactly that moment [just about the only point in the day which they agree is sacred] it has been a real labour of love and persuasion on her part to get anyone to agree to come then, albeit to sit an exam which could eventually lead to promotion at work and to other benefits!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


.. to refuse collection.

Back in March, the inspirational and aptly-named Mayor Cicero of Castelbuono [Palermo] had the idea of using mules to collect the refuse in this town of 10,000 inhabitants. The scheme seems to be a great success, for, as the Mayor says, this way they are cutting down on pollution whilst saving their historic heritage; the mules also have names and are popular with the town's children.

"National environmental concerns" is an oral examination topic so I was discussing this with students yesterday. Then I read more about it here .

Hat tip to my student Luca.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Found this at Cherrypie's. It's a girlie post, chaps!

My Foundation:
Clinique repairwair anti-ageing fond de teint 01 alabaster [quite difficult to find the lightest shades here]. In winter this changes to Lancôme teint idole. Both are worn over the highest SPF moisturisers all year rond.

My Mascara:
YSL black or bright blue.

My Day Cream:
Currently Clarins SPF 20 Crème Haute Exigence Jour. On top goes Clinique City Block, SPF 25, then foundation.

My Essential Beauty Product:
Clinique repairwair eye cream.

My Favorite Makeup Product:
Red lippy!

My Perfume:
YSL PARIS - lashings of it.

My Nails:
Need seeing to - no excuse now as a nail salon has opened in my street!

My Hands:
Hide them.

Three Products to bring to a desert island:
1. Lippy
2. Moisturiser
3. Mascara

Women I admire for their beauty:
Catherine Deneuve, La Loren.

Women with the Best Sense of Style:
Those who know who they are and go with it.

My Ultimate Dream:

How Do I Define Womanhood:
Being intelligent, good company, girlie and giggly when you want to be and being able to be yourself. Feeling liberated at each stage of your life.

My Favorite Fashion Publication:
Don't read these publications as the images of the young and thin being pushed at us all the time can make you want to wrap yourself in a binbag.

Now for my motto: I am still having trouble with my ankle, so when I just had to lie down and put an ice bag on it last night, James was surprised to see me applying lipstick first. "When you have to put ice on your foot, make sure you've got your lippy on".

Saturday, June 07, 2008


James guest posts and writes for you about two of my favourite haunts tonight. Enjoy!

As with many of the best businesses in Modica, the approach to Raffaele's salon is inconspicuous but once the lift decants you into the reception area [or alternatively you can mountain climb up the tiled steps if you're quite sportif], a wonderworld awaits you.

There is the chic, the hustle and bustle, the girls who assist him and then there is:


Still some years from 'a certain age', the first thing which strikes you about the man is the warm and open smile, the second thing is his pink polo T and the third the women milling around, planting kisses upon his craggy cheek.

He greets us with enthusiasm then zips away to attend to this lady or that whilst a girl brings us an espresso each and on a plush cushioned divan, we await his attendance upon our cappelli although in my case it's more wishful thinking than any specific style.

Welshcakes is whisked away for the shampoo phase and I take my leave with beaming smiles all round.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the views across the Modican countryside from his large window wall?

The thing which strikes you about this part of Sicily straight away is the friendliness of the people. It's a word bandied about by all tourist boards but in the case of Modica, it is most assuredly so.

Take that one step further, in the form of the cafe of choice in the choice main shopping street - via Sacre Cuore - and you have the makings of a delight.

Ten years ago, L'Altro Posto [The Other Place] started up on this street and a little gem it proved to be too. In that time it has become the place to eat for the business community in this area so why should we be any different?

Quite frankly, if I haven't had my cappuccino and choc croissant by eleven from Georgio or Marcella, I start to chafe at the bit and Welshcakes is of a similar mind with her prosciutto and melon lunch which I occasionally join her for.

This could be followed by fruit, gelati, then an espresso of local origin - Caffè MOAK.

One is spoilt for choice really and all I can suggest is that if you make it down this neck of the woods, seek out L'Altro Posto and you'll be assured of the sort of welcome I too received after only a few days - a beaming:


This is cross-posted at nourishing obscurity.

Friday, June 06, 2008


There I was sitting innocently at work this morning when the doorbell went and I opened it to a policeman in full, gleaming uniform:

"You have an election poster in the window?" he asked.
"Yes", I replied. [My boss is a candidate in the forthcoming municipal elections.]
"It will have to come down", said he.
[I glanced at his gun and decided not to argue.] "OK, but I am only an employee. I'll call her immediately". [Boss "unreachable".]
"Would you like to take it down yourself?" I asked.
"I'm not allowed to touch it, signora".
I could see that he was not just going to leave so promised to take the poster down immediately and we shook hands.

Now, there are laws in Italy about where you can and can't put election posters and I can see that advertising space has to be paid for. However, as boss pointed out later, these are her premises and it does seem a little illogical that the police can't touch the poster for precisely that reason, yet can tell her what she can and can't display in her own window!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Arrosto di vitello at the Altro Posto today. I didn't ask for the chips, honestly!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Monday, June 02, 2008


Well, it is a public holiday, James is here and it is also the third anniversary of my arrival in Sicily with Simi! Cin-cin, everyone!
Now we're going international, so I'm off to cook "Prague Casserole" for dinner.


Just back from the Sacro Cuore Festa, which included a sagra dedicated to cannoli.

Here you see the relaxed, milling Modicani, cooling slices of coconut on sale and three types of cannoli.

The atmosphere was vibrant and whole families were strolling happily along in the evening breeze, enjoying all that the occasion had to offer.

For me the music was particularly nostalgic, as Jimmy Fontana was on the open air stage singing hits from the 60s, including this favourite of mine which I have on vinyl:


Sunday, June 01, 2008



A relaxing Sunday lunch, Sicilian style [ie., starting and ending late] for James and me at home today: after antipasti and pasta with pesto, I served up my Mediterranean roast chicken.

James is most chivalrous and, despite wishing to remain obscure, didn't mind donning a pinafore at all to help out.
Of course, James just had to take this pic of me getting aggressive with a chicken.
The chicken is ready for the oven and the pasta water is boiling beside it.
The chicken is done.
Oh, and now James knows that the water really is delivered by lorry here!
I really must add here [James writing now] that you can't really fully appreciate just from blogpics how wonderful that roast was - the aroma, the flavour. Sigh ...

Continued from Nourishing Obscurity – the ongoing saga, from the evening before, of Welshcakes, James and the struggle to climb the Modican mountain to partake of supper:

So there I was sitting at this arcade café table, salading al fresco and suddenly half the eight year olds in Modica flocked in up the arcade, filling the chairs at the long table beside me, shouting, laughing and ordering pizza and coke, followed by an influx of teenagers who decided, in their wisdom, to fill the places at the table to the left and making an equal din but at a higher register.

The owner poked his head outside, smiled sheepishly, I shrugged, “Bambini,” and he brought me a beer.

Time to negotiate the bloody hill which always makes me throw up from the fumes and did again, turned off at Tamoil, up another hill, past where Welshcakes works, round past the old church where they had outdoor youth dancing near the floodlit walls, thus back to Domain Welshcakes and a relaxing drink.

Villa Welshcakes

This would surprise. You'd perhaps imagine that it was a nice, chummy little unit - not a bit of it. Chummy, most certainly but hardly small, [I'm currently in the study] and tiled floors throughout, along with an enormous number of books in shelves and one most important Simi.

Each room has a throughway to a balcony, with a glass windowed wooden frame inner door and a wooden-slatted shutter door with the slats adjustable. This is a most important addition in that one can regulate the light, temperature and so on, as well as keeping the locusts from Africa out which come over on the Sirocco.

More later as we have to go out to see the procession make its noisy way up our street and then there are cannoli made from ricotta cream and pistacchio nuts on offer at the church.

My first week with Welshcakes

Tomorrow morning, I'm afraid, we sleep in on this Day of the Republic , plus what only the cognoscenti would know – the third anniversary of Welshcakes’ and Simi’s arrival in Sicily.


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