Saturday, October 31, 2009


From Federico Moccia's film of his own book, Amore 14, released in Italy today:

Alessandra Amoroso - Senza Nuvole

Friday, October 30, 2009


It's Friday and that means it's time for my friend mountaingirl's Photo Challenge. This week's theme is "portrait" so here is a portrait of my friend Gino's portrait of a Sicilian man in traditional headdress:


I'm delighted to be able to tell you that "my poet", Antonio Lonardo, now has a blog. Do go over and say "hello" - he'll like it.

Antonio and Carla invited me to lunch today:

Antipasti of this year's olives, marinated artichokes and gherkins - all patiently prepared and preserved by Carla.

Spaghetti with Carla's tomato sauce

and a main course of polpette, salsiccia and courgettes which Carla had cooked slowly in olive oil with some chopped tomatoes, capers, parsley, garlic and seasoning.

Roast chestnuts and grapes to finish and then it was time for work.

Grazie, Antonio e Carla.


I'm not usually one to rant about environmental issues but that's what I'm going to do tonight. The November edition of Elle Italia has excelled itself with all this packaging

in order to give you this:

What the elle do they think they're doing?


This is one of my articles recently published in Italy Magazine. As the events happened in Sicily, I thought that you would enjoy it too:

Last week a Sicilian builder who had been placed under house arrest begged police to take him back to prison instead. 30-year-old Sandro Gambino, a builder from Villabate in Palermo Province, had been arrested when the Carabinieri caught him dumping building materials from his truck and he was subsequently imprisoned. Later the sentence was commuted to house arrest but Gambino found himself arguing so much with his wife, who accused him of not contributing to the upkeep of their two children, that he could not stand being at home. So he fled to the police station and asked the astonished officers to rearrest him and send him back to jail. Gambino’s case was immediately reheard and he was again sentenced to house arrest. The police apparently advised him to kiss and make up.

Gambino is not the only person to have preferred jail to house arrest: Earlier this year 30-year-old Guido Beneventi, a thief from Palermo, left his parents’ home, to which he was supposed to be confined, and ran to a police station where he demanded to be arrested. He said he could no longer tolerate his parents’ lectures regarding his life of crime. He told the arresting officers that they were his “saviours”. And in 2007 Marcello Lazzarra, who was under house arrest for selling counterfeit CDs, called the police and asked them to come and arrest him. Lazzarra, aged 24 at the time and also from Palermo, then went outside to be apprehended for attempted escape. He said that he would rather go to jail than listen to the quarrels between his mother and stepfather.

House arrest is quite common in Italy for minor crimes and may also be used when prisoners are near the end of their term or are too ill to remain in a correctional facility.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I've said it before and I'll say it again: no one makes focaccia like Rosa, who brings me some every time she makes it. She rolls the dough wafer-thin, and the texture is somewhere between that of traditional Sicilian focaccia dough and filo pastry. One day I am going to watch her preparing it and when I find out how she achieves this miracle, I will tell you. Meanwhile, the picture will have to suffice:

And no one makes pizza quite like Rosa either!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


'Morning, folks. Simi here!

If my mummy gets new bedding with her supermarket points, it's my job to try it out, right? It's MY bed, after all, though at night I let mummy sleep in it. I must say sometimes a dog can't find room on her own bed at all these days, as if mummy isn't messing around on the computer on it, she's got it covered with magazines and books. Of course, I just chuck them on the floor to tidy up and then she goes crazy. Humans, eh? Oh, sorry, I forgot there are a lot of humans reading this!

Well, I'm off to see what my pals Alex and George are up to now.

Buona giornata, fans!


Simi xx woof!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


From a shameful event in the story of Modica to a shameful and tragic one in British history. I am writing about this episode tonight because a friend in Wales has written to me describing her work to raise funds for a memorial to Welsh-Italian victims of the Arandora Star tragedy, in which a total of 486 Italians lost their lives.
At the outbreak of World War 11 "enemy aliens" living in Britain were divided into three categories: those in class A were deemed to represent a high security risk and were interned; those in class B were "doubtful" and were subject to some restrictions; and those in class C were thought to pose no security risk at all. However, following the Fall of France in 1940 Churchill decided, in his own words, to "collar the lot" and the majority of class B aliens were interned. When Italy declared war on Britain and France on June 10th the internment of Italian males was ordered. Many of the Germans interned had opposed the Nazis or were German Jewish refugees. Most of the Italians interned had lived in Britain virtually all their lives and many had sons who were serving in the British military. Others were in Britain because they had opposed Mussolini and later fled their country in fear of their lives. The majority of the men were detained in internment camps on the Isle of Man or Orkney, where they were treated inhumanely.
A policy of deporting internees was in place and on 1st July 1940 the SS Arandora Star, a converted cruise liner, sailed from Liverpool for Canada with 1,864 people on board. Of these 734 were Italian internees, 479 were German internees, 89 were German prisoners of war and the rest were guards and crew, 80% of the crew having been newly signed on that morning. The internees were forced to sail in appalling conditions, packed onto a ship built to carry only 250 passengers and extended, in wartime, to carry 200 more.
The ship was painted battleship grey, making her look like a troop carrier, and displayed no Red Cross flag, which would have distinguished her as a vessel carrying civilians. On her second day out from Liverpool the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine off the west coast of Ireland. There had been no lifeboat drills, the rafts were immovably strapped to the sides of the ship anyway, and few lifejackets had been issued. In addition, the decks and the lifeboats were separated by walls of barbed wire - a measure which the Captain had protested about before sailing. Most of the Italians did not stand a chance , as they had come from mountainous areas of Italy and had never learnt to swim. Those few who did survive the freezing sea were again harshly treated after being rescued and some were then deported to Australia.
When the British media reported the tragedy, the public were told that Nazis on board had dashed for the lifeboats knocking everyone else out of the way. No mention was made of the fact that respectable people who had made positive contributions to British society had been on board, along with refugees who had risked their lives, in their own countries, for the very freedoms the British now claimed to be fighting for.
No apology has ever been made by a British government.
You can read personal stories regarding the tragedy here and here. The story is also told in Mary Contini's Dear Olivia and features in a novel by Francine Stock, A Foreign Country.


Here are two more pictures by my friend Gino, this time of houses in the Cartellone area of Modica, scene of a shameful episode in Modica's history: On Assumption Day [15th August] 1474 the "Christians" of Modica, encouraged by fanatical priests, slaughtered about 360 Jews. In 1493 the Jews were expelled en masse from Sicily [under the 1492 Spanish Edict expelling them from all territory controlled by the House of Aragon].

Saturday, October 24, 2009


To Linda's today for a north-south lunch in more ways than one. First of all the company: Linda from the south of England, her family from the south of Italy, friends from Modena in the north of Italy [a town in which I spent a happy time in the 1980s] and me from South Wales.

Chiara is always thinking up pretty antipasto ideas and today's creation was so simple yet so elegant:

Then we had good old roast beef with Yorkshire puddings,

salad afterwards in the Italian way

and apple crumble!

There was nothing British about the conversation - all about regional food - or the length of the lunch, though. I left there replete at 5.30 pm.


Here's one of my favourite golden oldies for you. Enjoy:

Gino Paoli - Prima di vederti

Friday, October 23, 2009


It's 11.58 pm on Friday which means I am on time this week for my friend mountaingirl's Friday Photo Challenge! This week's theme is "match".

Whenever I buy a new item of clothing, I get stressed out trying to find accessories and make-up to match. Finding the right lipstick often involves rummaging through my make-up drawers in a complete panic or taking the item to the perfumery to match it up. But today I was lucky as I found I had a lippy that is an exact match for this blouse:

Later Cathy snapped me wearing both in my classroom:

And now, just for fun, ladies - and gentlemen, if it takes your fancy - here is a cool quiz from blogthings:

You Should Wear Bright Red Lipstick

In Your Face: Sexy and Flirty
Your look: Flawless Beauty
Your signature lip gloss flavor: Cherry

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Lunch out with Gina yesterday to celebrate the publication of some of my articles in Italy Magazine.

It's a while since I visited the Caffè Consorzio and I was pleased to find the cooking better than ever. We both ordered

fresh taglioni with cherry tomatoes and rocket,

shared a basket of good bread

and enjoyed polpette di salsiccia with salad.

A pretty fresh fruit salad for dessert, then coffee, ensured that we left contented.

"But where were all the women workers?" we wondered afterwards, as the popular eaterie had been full of men from the nearby banks and offices. "At home cooking for their husbands and children", sighed Gina.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I got back from work at 8.30 pm to find a carrier bag tied to the door. I knew it had to be from Lucia and inside was this bottle of oil made from her own olives. I could just gaze at the colour of it all night!

Monday, October 19, 2009


I am about to partake of a lunch which Rosa brought me this morning. It is an Italo-Albanian dish of stuffed aubergine. Rosa says she chooses round aubergines, cuts them in two and digs out the pulp, which she chops. Then she cooks this with some chopped onion, garlic, tomatoes, oregano and minced veal in olive oil until the onions are softened and the meat has taken on some colour. She fills the aubergine shells with this mixture and puts them in an oven dish. She adds a little water to the dish and cooks the filled aubergines in the oven [I'm guessing at about 200 C] until the water has evaporated. Delicious!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I have shamelessly stolen this from my fellow-Welshie, Nerys, because I just had to show it to you. For me, the part about bureaucracy rings truest; what about you?

For any Italians reading: please take this in the spirit in which it is meant - in fun and admiration - because I love you!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


October is breast cancer awareness month and Scintilla from Bell'Avventura has had the brilliant idea that as many of us as possible should post pink to raise awareness. Laura from Ciao Amalfi has joined in too and Scintilla is going to link all participants together at the end of this month.

Both Laura and Scintilla have posted some excellent advice regarding this cruel disease. I would like to add that, if you think you have noticed a change in a breast or have felt a lump the worst thing you can do is to ignore it. 80% of lumps are benign and many women notice changes in their breasts during menstruation. It is important to know your body and be aware of what is normal for you but please see a doctor immediately if you are worried.

Although this disease is commonest in women and most dreaded by us because it strikes right at our femininity, we should not forget that men can suffer from the condition too and often find it harder to access support.

If you are in Italy, LILT clinics are offering free examinations country-wide during October.

Think Pink - Cyclamen

In Sicily it is cyclamen time and the island is a riot of different shades of pink:

Sicilian wild cyclamen photographed by a friend.

Cyclamen on sale at a street stall.

Cyclamen on my balcony.


You could be forgiven, reader, for assuming that I am obsessed by male underwear, but I couldn't resist snapping these when I saw them in a shop window yesterday:


Addio, Carla Boni, who died today in Rome:

Carla Boni - Viale d'autunno


It's cold and rainy in Sicily but I'm OK as Lucia has just brought me a focaccia filled with broccoli and salsiccia which she baked in her own traditional stone oven.

I'm off to eat it while it's still hot!


I'm late again for my friend mountaingirl's Photo Challenge. This week's theme is "leaf":


Brace yourselves, readers, for you are going to be green with envy! This is my latest toy, acquired with my supermarket points. I must get baking because this essential item is a musical cake slicer! It plays "Jingle Bells", "Happy Birthday", "Perché è un bravo ragazzo" ["For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"] and the "Wedding March" [which I don't think I'll be needing but a girl should be prepared].

Every home should have one, don't you think?

Friday, October 16, 2009


.... has been a very big day for me, as my first two articles as a regular writer for Italy Magazine have been published here and here. I hope you have time to take a look and enjoy them. Italy Magazine was one of my favourite reads when I was in Britain and I never dreamt I would become a member of their team!

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Thursday, October 15, 2009


Kind Lucia visited this morning, bringing me these wonderful gifts from her garden: loti or kaki in dialect [Sharon fruit or persimmons], pomegranates and quinces. [The tiny pears around the side are from the greengrocer's and are the sweetest I have tasted.]

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I am writing this post on behalf of the English International School, Modica.

I am delighted to announce that the English International School in Modica now has a blog. We have only just begun it and we will be adding grammatical explanations, exercises, vocabulary sheets and news about the school and its students in the near future.

Long-standing readers of this blog will already have met our Director of Studies, Cathy, but are not yet acquainted with our secretary, Evelyn, who is from Mexico. Evelyn [right] is pictured with Cathy here:

And here are some of this year's happy students!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


This morning I espied these lovely black grapes on sale for 3 euros a crate

and this mound of chestnuts:

This evening, as I strolled back from work, more chestnuts had been brought in and were being roasted:

The young man's assistant pops them in a paper bag, sprinkles over a couple of pinches of seasalt and , when you get home, to quote that old chestnut [sorry] none of them is a hard nut to crack!

Monday, October 12, 2009


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