Thursday, March 31, 2011


The migration situation on Lampedusa and along the whole Mediterranean coast of Sicily is changing hourly but I am going to try, here, to sum up the main events of the past ten days.  In doing so I beg your indulgence, reader, for the personal opinion that creeps in now and then - I cannot help it!

Lampedusa has, again, found itself at breaking point as boats from North Africa have continued to arrive and the situation culminated in there being more migrants on the island than inhabitants. As the world's media  reported the inhumane conditions that the migrants encountered there - including what became known as the "hill of shame" near the port, where around 3,000 desperate people were sleeping in the open - few outside Italy spared a thought for the indigenous population who, fearing for their way of life and their tourist industry, were desperately appealing to both the Italian government and the EU for help.  What the Lampedusans did not need, in my opinion, was Mr Bossi of the Lega Nord using a dialect phrase to tell the migrants, in no uncertain terms, to go back where they came from.

No civilised country should allow the sad scenes that we have seen on Lampedusa in recent days but the  Italian authorities, whatever their shortcomings, have the extremely difficult job of trying to identify people who do not want to be identified - as shown when a boat crammed with Egyptians claiming to be Libyan docked at Catania last week - and are, I repeat, being left to handle the crisis  largely on their own.

A tragedy, then, was waiting to happen and happen it did on Wednesday night, when up to eleven migrants, including a one-year-old child, drowned in the Sicilian Channel whilst trying to reach Lampedusa.  Twelve survivors from their wrecked boat were picked up by the Italian Coast Guard from two Egyptian fishing boats which had reportedly saved them.  The Italian Coast Guard is suspicious of the presence of the Egyptian boats in the area, however, and it may be that we have not heard the end of this story yet.

Alongside this tragedy, a story of hope has also emerged this week and it concerns a baby boy called Yeabsera or "Gift from God" who was born on a migrant boat spotted in the Channel on Saturday evening.  Mother, father and child were first transferred to a mobile clinic on Lampedusa and when news of the birth reached some of the women of the island, they brought baby clothes and other gifts for the child, thus proving that humanity and kindness are far from dead on Lampedusa.  The family were later flown to a hospital in Palermo and mother and baby are said to be doing well.

Meanwhile, nearer here, a boat carrying 350 men, 100 women, some of whom are pregnant and 40 children ran aground in the Marina di Modica on Monday night.  The passengers, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia, are being housed in the Cpa [Identification Centre] at Pozzallo.  

Italy, however, is not the hoped-for destination of most of these migrants:  many, especially the Tunisians, wish to reach France, where they have relatives and or connections.  The problem is, of course, that France does not want them.  It is estimated that over 1,000 migrants have now escaped from the village built to house them at Mineo [Catania Province] and some of these, again showing the determination that got them to the shores of Europe in the first place, have managed to get to Northern Italy, only to be turned back at the border town of Ventimiglia.  Four such migrants were found by border police on Wednesday in the boot of a car being driven by a Tunisian with French residency.  They had paid their "friend" €300 for the privilege of risking death by asphyxiation.  Other migrants are said to be risking their lives negotiating the treacherous and now heavily policed Alpine passes.

But every tragedy has its hero and the hero of this one has, for the Lampedusans,  turned out to be Silvio Berlusconi.  The Prime Minister, flying in yesterday, announced that he would clear the island of migrants within 60 hours, ensure publicity for its tourist industry on television, obtain tax cuts for its residents and that, as a gesture of solidarity, he had purchased a €1.5 million villa there.  [He had "seen it on the internet."]  And that was not all, for our supersonic showman kept the best news for the end of his speech:  the Italian government is to nominate Lampedusa for the Nobel Peace Prize.  That won over even the most die-hard of the Prime Minister's detractors on the island and who, in the islanders' position, would not rejoice?  You may well be wondering, as I did, why Mr Berlusconi had not acted earlier but he had an answer for that: he had not, it seems, had a "clear picture" of the situation until he came to see for himself.  Hmm... I cannot help remembering L'Aquila and at least one Sicilian newspaper has dismissed the performance as the "Silvio Show" today, but you have to admit it worked!

Today the Italian government has, with justification in my view, turned on its European neighbours, particularly France, for not helping in this crisis and I have to ask why a group of nations so ready to cooperate over a "no fly zone" - a euphemism for war - cannot cooperate over a humanitarian crisis partially caused by their actions.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


March beef with capers

I have to give you this recipe while it is still March! It is inspired by a recipe in this month's La Cucina Italiana and for those of you who are in Italy and have the magazine it's the one for brioni di manzo brasati.  First of all, what's a briono of beef?  My butcher didn't know [again] but I showed him the recipe and, after consulting the internet - he is getting quite geeky! - he decided it must be what is known down here as the ala di tenero or cappello del prete ["priest's hat", because of its shape] cut.  He suggested I let him slice the beef as then I could cook it for less time and that was fine with me as carving is not my forte.  [Many Italian women have one of those slicing machines that cuts the meat extra thinly.]   Another change to the recipe that I decided upon as soon as I saw it was that there would be no anchovy fillets in my version, as I am allergic to any kind of fish.  I also used red wine instead of white as that is what I had and the zucchini are my addition, as I had some to use up.   I added the herbs for the hell of it.  OK, here we go:

4 tablesp olive oil
1 kg ala di tenero of beef, sliced fairly thickly across
3 stalks celery, sliced [if you can get the small, Sicilian kind, all the better.]
1 medium white onion, sliced into rings
2 zucchini, sliced
handful capers preserved in salt, rinsed  
500 gr passata  [the smooth kind]
c. 300 ml  red wine
1 vegetable stock cube
sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a fairly deep, wide pan and brown the beef on all sides.  Chuck in the vegetables and continue to cook for about 10 mins.  Add the capers, stock cube and wine.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then add the passata and the rosemary and thyme.  Season to taste, put the lid on and simmer for about 1.5 hours, turning the meat once.

I don't think this dish needs any accompaniment other than a salad of tender spring leaves.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


All the world and his wife, it seems, flock to Modica Bassa on the last Sunday morning of the month for the open air antiques market and, on a sunny day, strolling from stall to stall is a pleasant way to pass the time.  Here you can find everything from a vintage Vespa to furniture to stamps.  Had I but space enough and dosh, reader, I might have returned with a dresser, a settle and an enormous statue of San Giorgio.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Yes, I was lucky enough to be invited to yet another feast on Saturday, this time a gathering of friends at the Cava d'Ispica.

The Sicilian countryside has a beauty all of its own

despite the cables:

Can you spot the wild asparagus?

I hope this poppy wasn't feeling too lonely:

I'm glad this mill wheel has been preserved:

And now to the food!

There were home-cured olives and sun-dried tomatoes

and perfect homemade pane consato

flavoured with olive oil and origano:


There were freshly picked grapefruit, oranges and cedri, the latter best eaten just as they are, with seasalt:

There was asparagus risotto

and spaghetti al limone:

Meanwhile, a fine fire was blazing

helped by these:

Soon it was time to add these

and, a little later, to eat them

with simply cooked, delicious chicken:

Then there was cheesecake

and sponge cake

and I took along some rather imperfectly formed Welshcakes:

But the star turn was undoubtedly this tray of perfectly formed, mini cassate siciliane.  It is, after all, nearly Easter!

Grazie per la festa, amici.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


myspace layouts

Having espied a picture of a certain much coveted wedding invitation online, I printed a copy on good card, wrote my hairdresser's name on it and presented it to him.  He immediately put it on display in the salon and all that afternoon, clients came in, gaped at it and then exclaimed,

"E vero? Sei invitato, Raffaele?!"  ["Is it true? Are you invited, Raffaele?!"]  

I just sat there, making the occasional nonchalant reference to la mia amica, la regina.

I also printed copies for some of my young students, one of whom expressed her surprise at the invitation's restrained format thus:

"Ma è così semplice!"  ["It's so simple!"]

"That's class, honey", said I.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I find these words particularly poignant given the world situation:

In questa primavera l'Europa cambierà
la gente è più sincera, la pace arriverà.

This spring Europe will change
people are more sincere and peace will come.

Pino Daniele - Questa primavera

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Everyone loves a diva and the Italians, having invented the term, are no exception.  They particularly love dive who are beautiful, feisty and the stuff of which gossip columns are made, and violet-eyed Elizabeth Taylor, who died yesterday, was all of those things.

In Sicily she is remembered with affection in Taormina, which she visited with Welsh actor Richard Burton, undoubtedly the love of her life, several times.  In 1967 Taylor was awarded, in the town's Greek Theatre, the David di Donatello for best foreign actress for her role in The Taming of the Shrew. She won the award again in 1972 for Zee and Co.    On another occasion she famously smashed a guitar over Burton's head in Taormina's Hotel San Domenico.

Taylor and Burton in Taormina
Image: Taormina Arte

Arrivederci, diva.  They don't make 'em like you any more.

Elizabeth Taylor, 27.2.1937 - 23.3.2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


The Woman Who Shot MussoliniThe Woman Who Shot Mussolini by Frances Stonor Saunders

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very occasionally, I come across a book that is so interesting that I read it in one sitting and this is one of these. The subject matter is a virtually forgotten incident which occurred in 1926 and its protagonists are Violet Gibson, an aristocratic British spinster and Benito Mussolini, the fascist leader of Italy. If events that morning had gone just a little differently, the whole course of twentieth century history might have been very different.

On that long ago Wednesday Violet Gibson had set out from the convent where she was staying in Rome carrying a pistol, a stone and a scrap of newspaper on which she had written "Palazzo del Littorio", the address of the Fascist Party headquarters where she intended to carry out her deed in the afternoon. But instead she stopped at the Campodoglio where a crowd had gathered because of Mussolini's presence and, seeing him emerge from the Palazzo dei Conservatori, she shot him at point blank range, injuring the tip of his nose. Violet Gibson got as close to her target as Jack Ruby got to Lee Harvey Oswald 37 years later, murder, as the author of this book points out, sometimes being " a very intimate business".

At this point you may well be asking yourselves, as I did, why you have not heard of this incident before and the answer seems to be because it suited both the British and Italian governments to hush it up. It made the newspapers in both countries, of course, and Mussolini's supporters bayed for Violet's blood but both sets of diplomats were only too happy for Violet's family to take her back to Britain and have her quietly shut away. That is what happened and Violet remained in what we would now call a "private mental health facility" for the rest of her life.

Two questions remain about Violet: why did she do it and was she mad? The first has never been definitively answered, as Violet always implied that there were others involved, though no evidence of this was ever found. If she was mad , she was an "intelligent lunatic" who read the papers and analysed political events. She was also born at a time when women of her class were brought up to be ornaments. It is possible, then, that she was looking for a cause and she seems to have thought that she was acting on some sort of divine command.

For years, Violet led investigators and her doctors a dance, at one point asserting,

"What I say can't be believed because I am mad"

and she hardly helped her own cause. Despite her numerous, cogent pleas to the highest in the land, she was never set free or even allowed to reside in a Catholic hospital as she requested and her family became exasperated and more than a little concerned about costs. At this point the book becomes a kind of chronicle of the way in which the well-off mentally ill were treated in the first half of the twentieth century and it is none the less fascinating for that.

The book, however, is as much Benito Mussolini's story as it is Violet's and its early part poses a third question: was Mussolini mad? I'll leave you to make up your own minds on that one!

Meanwhile, back to our mysterious "heroine": When Violet Gibson died in 1956 no public announcement was made and no friend or relative attended her funeral. She remains, in death as in life, an enigma.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Making this dish of veal and almond polpette gave me a chance to use my truffle flavour spray and the result was, I think, more successful than the veal and almond meatballs I previously tried.  The recipe uses Italian panna di cucina which has an entirely different texture from British single cream - it is much lighter.  It also uses fondo di vitello but neither the butcher nor I knew what it was!  Upon discussion of the recipe, we decided that it must be a fancy northern term for a chunk of veal fat so that is what he gave me.  I thought this might make the sauce too fatty but it didn't and imparted a delicious flavour. In this recipe crushed fette biscottate [similar to the French toast biscuits you can get in Britain] rather than breadcrumbs, are used to thicken the polpette mixture.  Those aren't pieces of black truffle decorating the polpette, by the way - they are slices of black olives!  For those of you in Italy, the recipe is in the July - August 2010 edition of the Conad supermarket chain's magazine, Bene Insieme:

Monday, March 21, 2011


Warning:  This is an upsetting post.

In an unspeakable act of cruelty carried out by a sadist whom I'll be happy to help string up when he or she is caught, a beautiful dog now known as Dream had three of his paws cut off last week.  Dream was found lying in agony in a field near Vittoria [Ragusa Province] on 13th March.  

What happened to Dream has sickened the whole of Italy but has also brought out the best in Italians:  as soon as the news broke, money poured in for his care and there has been no shortage of kind folk offering to adopt him.

Today Dream was flown to a specialist animal hospital in Bologna and the captain of the Alitalia plane allowed him to fly in the passenger cabin with a volunteer from the hospital.  The appropriately named Captain Alessandro Salvati announced that a very special passenger was on board and all Dream's fellow-passengers and the crew showed their concern and compassion for him throughout the flight.  Dream, who is said to be a gentle dog with eyes to break your heart, turned out to be a good traveller and continued his journey to the hospital with the good wishes of all who know his story.

Veterinary surgeons in Bologna hope to be able to fit Dream with prostheses from the USA and to help him walk again.

If you read Italian, you will be able to follow Dream's progress on facebook.  I am sure that all of you, like me, will be thinking of him in the days and weeks to come.

Update:  According to the latest facebook bulletin, Dream's operation today went well. Another part of Dream's front right paw,  part of his back right paw and part of his tail  had to be amputated because of advanced necrosis.  His back left paw was cleaned during the operation because of infection.  It is now hoped to fit him with a front right paw prosthesis from Italy and that this will enable him to walk but veterinary surgeons in the USA are being kept updated.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


As the eyes of the world shift from Japan to Libya, the inhabitants of the beleaguered island of Lampedusa have a new worry:  the possibility of a Libyan airstrike there in retaliation for the Italian government's decision to allow NATO planes to take off from Sicily in the Coalition action against the Gaddafi régime.   Colonel Gaddafi tried to bomb Lampedusa back in 1986 after the American bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi but the Scud missiles, aimed at a US Coast Guard navigation station on the island, landed in the sea.

If you did not realise how close Sicily is to the North African coast, take a look at the map.  Lampedusa lies just 183.1 miles from Tripoli and its position is the reason why 11,000 North African migrants have landed there since January.

The people of Lampedusa have been overwhelmed by the sheer number of migrants arriving on their shore: The Cie [Identification and Expulsion Centre] on the island, built for 750 people, is currently housing almost 4,000 desperate souls.  New arrivals on Friday - Saturday night had to sleep on the quayside  and, with the Cie running short of basic supplies, the islanders, already worried about a decrease in tourist bookings, now dread a health emergency.  The Red Cross has declared the situation on the island "unacceptable".

On Friday many Lampedusani demonstrated in their two harbours, blocking the quays and today they successfully stopped the docking of an Italian ship carrying equipment for the tendopoli [tent city] proposed by the Italian government.  The Mayor of Lampedusa, Dino de Rubeis, says that the island's citizens will not allow the tendopoli to be built and he has instead asked the government to send a naval ship to accommodate some of the migrants.  He has also requested that the passengers of any other migrant boats sailing for the island be transferred directly to Cie in other parts of Italy.

Sicily has its own history of emigration and its people usually understand those who are seeking a better life but the people of Lampedusa are at the end of their tether.  There are reports of notices in bars stating that migrants are unwelcome and this, if true, goes against a long Sicilian  tradition of fellow-feeling for the immigrant.    

Some demonstators on Lampedusa, their sense of humour clearly not having deserted them, have been holding banners giving the exact longitude and latitude of their island and beseeching Colonel Gaddafi to aim at it accurately:

"Colonel, don't miss this time. That way our suffering will be over."

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Image: Wikipedia Italia

From the Sanremo Song Festival of 2011 to the very first one, in 1951.  That year the winning song, Grazie dei Fiori, was sung by an elegant lady called Nilla Pizzi, who died last Saturday at the age of 91.  In 1952 Nilla Pizzi won the contest again, with Vola Colomba and also took second and third place, with the songs Papeveri e Papere and Una Donna Prega respectively.

Nilla Pizzi never stopped working and was preparing a new album of previously unreleased songs at the time of her death.

Adionilla Negrini Pizzi, 16.4.1919 - 12.3.2011.

Friday, March 18, 2011


When I went to university to study French and Italian in 1968 I had an Italian lecturer who always used to remind us that Italy had only been a unified country for just over 100 years.  Little did I think that, almost a half century later, I would be sitting in a Sicilian garden celebrating the 150th anniversary of that unification!  

On our morning stroll, Simi and I had seen that all along our street people were sitting outside the bars enjoying the sunshine and the holiday atmosphere.  The town's pastry chefs had come into their own and Bar Cicara was displaying these lovely swans and other pastries with a patriotic theme:

I decided to take one of these special desserts along to Linda's but first let me show you the other lovely fare:

There were delicious antipasti

followed by homemade ravioli with a tricolore theme:

They are filled with aita [a kind of chard] and ricotta:

Then there was spezzatino of sausage, chicken and potatoes:

Of course, it would not be a Modican party without trays of dolcini:

And now here is the dessert of choux pastry buns covered with tricoloured  crema pasticcera that I found at the Pasticceria Delizie d'Autore which has recently opened in our street:

A worthy ending to a celebration meal, don't you think?

Thursday, March 17, 2011


My dearest Italy,

As I write this letter, there is no doubt that you have some troubles:  you celebrate the 150th anniversary of your unification at a time when the very principle of that unification is in question,  you have a refugee crisis on your southern shores, the European economic recession has hit you hard, your ancient monuments are crumbling and in recent months you have been making world headlines for all the wrong reasons.

It occurs to me, therefore, that perhaps you do not realise how much you are loved; that there is an Italian dream just as there is an American one and that those of us who are lucky enough to live it, even for a short while, hold you in our hearts forever.

Your beauty is legendary, your food arguably the best in the world and as a cradle of civilisation you have no equal.  Those who criticise you for allowing some of your historic buildings to collapse cannot possibly visualise how many there are and, if you were to pump even greater sums of money into their upkeep, that would in all probability be judged harshly too, for sometimes it seems that you just cannot win.

You have a bureaucratic tradition which would frustrate a saint, public institutions which are famously inefficient and you make the best of laws for the best of reasons, forget to repeal the old ones and then wonder why the system does not work.  Yet you have remained a democracy since the end of World War 11 and have a  Constitution which bravely outlaws the excesses of that war and which should be regarded as a shining example by all who value freedom.  And you are loved.

You have given the world pizza, perspective, the  Fiat 500 and the Bialetti man.  I have yet to meet someone who does not wish that they spoke your language or someone who has spent time with Italians and does not wish that they could emulate their life style and priorities.

My lovely land, your great, collective heart and the kindness of your people have saved so many of us, so many times. So celebrate this great day with pride and go on teaching the world how to live.

I have loved you for such a long time and today I want to thank you for loving me back.

Mia cara Italia,

Mentre scrivo, è chiaro che sei nei guai:  festeggi l'150° anniversario della tua Unità in un periodo in cui il principio della stessa Unità è in questione, c'è una crisi di migrazione sulla tua sponda meridionale, la recessione economica dell'Europa ti ha colpito in modo particolarmente duro, i tuoi monumenti antichi crollano e recentemente hai alimentato la cronaca del mondo per motivi sbagliati.

Dunque mi pare che forse tu non sappia quanto sei amato; che esiste un sogno italiano tale quale quello americano e che le persone che hanno la fortuna di viverlo, anche per un breve periodo, ti tengono per sempre nel cuore.

La tua bellezza è leggendaria, la tua cucina è possibilmente la migliore del mondo e come culla della civiltà sei senza paragone.  Chi  ti critica per aver consentito al crollo di alcuni dei tuoi edifici storici non è in grado di immaginare quanti ne hai e se tu spendessi un sacco di soldi in più per mantenerli, anche questo sarebbe duramente criticato, perché a volte sembra che tu non possa mai vincere.

Hai una tradizione burocratica che potrebbe dare fastidio a un santo, hai delle istituzioni pubbliche celebri per le loro inefficienza e tu formuli le migliori leggi per motivi buoni, dimenticando di abrogare quelle vecchie e cosi chiedendoti perché il sistema non funziona.  Nonostante questo, sei una democrazia dalla fine della seconda guerra mondiale e hai una Costituzione che, coraggiosamente, condanna gli eccessi di quella guerra e che merita essere considerata un ottimo esempio per tutti gli amanti della libertà.  E sei amata.

Hai regolato al mondo la pizza, il disegno in prospettiva, la Fiat 500 e l'omino coi baffi della Bialetti. Non ho mai conosciuto qualcuno che non voglia imparare la tua lingua o qualcuno che, avendo trascorso del tempo con gli Italiani, non voglia imitare il loro stile di vita e le loro priorità.

Paese bellissima, il tuo grande cuore e la gentilezza della tua gente ci hanno salvato tante volte.  Allora, festeggia questo grande giorno e continua ad insegnare al mondo come vivere.

Io ti amo da tanto tempo e oggi vorrei ringraziarti di avermi amato reciprocamente.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


A very special lady known as the Aidone Aphrodite or the Venere di Morgantina leaves California for Sicily today.  The fifth century BC statue, whose story is here, is, at last, coming home and will arrive in Sicily some time between tomorrow and Friday.

The statue is travelling in three pieces and on 21st March experts from the Getty Museum will fly to Sicily to put her back together.  

Her presence is likely to change the town of Aidone, where a special place is being prepared for her at the Museum, forever as it will become a major tourist attraction.  A joint ticket for the mosaics at Piazza Armerina, the archaeological site of Morgantina and the Aidone Museum is already being planned.

The lady has an as yet unspecified date with President Napolitano and I can't wait to go and welcome her home myself!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


As the world's headlines focus on the tragic events in Japan, another tragedy continues to unfold not so far from here:   yesterday the island of Lampedusa saw its most difficult day yet in the current migration crisis,  with 800 North African migrants arriving during the day and  22 - 24 boats carrying migrants arriving during the course of Monday night.  The Cie [Identification and Expulsion Centre] on the island is operating at well over its official capacity.

Also on Monday a boat carrying 40 migrants and heading for Sicily from the Tunisian port of Zarzis capsized shortly after leaving the port.  Only five people have been rescued.

In addition, a ship carrying 1,836 migrants, most of whom were Moroccan but some  of whom were from other North African countries, left Tripoli on Sunday afternoon intending, according to its captain, to sail for Morocco where it would repatriate its human cargo.  The captain asked for permission to dock at the Sicilian port of Augusta in order to refuel but  the Italian government, fearing that the ship and its passengers would  remain in Sicily, refused it permission to enter Italian waters although ministers considered helping it to refuel at sea.

Into all this on Monday walked French politician Marine Le Pen, daughter of Jean-Marie and, since January,  leader of her country's extreme right Front National.  Mme Le Pen was accompanied by Lega Nord politician Mario Borghezio and  an attendant media circus.  The two had to be smuggled out of Lampedusa Airport via a concealed exit and their presence on the island at this sensitive time did not make the job of the Italian authorities, already working at full stretch around the clock, any easier.

Mme Le Pen had ostensibly come to assess the situation at the Cie  - although for security reasons she did not speak to any of the migrants there and made the hardly helpful suggestion that Italy, instead of allowing the migrants to land, should take food and water to them at sea.  Oh yes, and what are the poor souls supposed to do then, chère madame? Float around on the high seas forever?

Anyone with a knowledge of French politics can work out that Mme Le Pen did not visit the island out of concern for the migrants, Italy or even the EU as a whole, but to ascertain whether there was any "threat" of some of the migrants landing in France.  At a time when Italy is asking the EU for help in the situation and on the very day when the country at last secured a promise of support from the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Durao Barroso, Mme Le Pen said that the EU is "demonstrating its powerlessness in the situation" and cannot help all the migrants because of its own unemployment rate.  The people of Sicily are well aware of the unemployment situation in the EU, Mme Le Pen, and do not need you to remind them of it.  But neither they nor I can believe that 27 countries, making a concerted effort, could not solve this crisis.

Please stay away, Mme Le Pen, and keep your abominable opinions to yourself.

Monday, March 14, 2011


What a feast I enjoyed yesterday with friends at the home of Roberta and Roberto in Ragusa!

There were antipasti of olives, arancini,  prosciutto,  little mozzarelle and sun-dried tomatoes:

Then there were home-made ravioli with a mushroom sauce:

There were two main courses, of chicken and of pork:

There were mandarins from Roberta and Roberto's garden:

Linda had prepared a very British trifle

and, as I had been longing to try some of the delectable chocolate fancies on display in our local bar, I took some along to share with my friends.  The coloured chocolate cases are filled with a Modican chocolate cream and to the right of the tray you can see chocolate flavoured torrone and cobaita:

I can think of no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon!


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