Why were Ten Percent of Sicilian Babies Abandoned?

Why were Ten Percent of Sicilian Babies Abandoned?

I was excited last month to get a pressie from one of the leading experts in Sicilian genealogy. A novella, set in olden-days Sicily. The author, Angelo Coniglio, usually helps people people in America trace their Sicilian roots, and turn up a thousand or so relatives who all want to feed them more than their […]

How to Annoy a Sicilian

How to Annoy a Sicilian

Despite their reputation for having a volcanic temperament, Sicilians are actually a phlegmatic bunch. I’m endlessly amazed by what they’ll put up with, patiently, politely, and uncomplainingly. But, if you must, here are the Seven Secret ways to irritate a Sicilian from here to next Sunday. On Monday, make fun of his white vest. I once […]

How to avoid Liver-ache, getting hit by the air, and other Sicilian Diseases

How to avoid Liver-ache, getting hit by the air, and other Sicilian Diseases

Sicily has all kinds of medical conditions that don’t exist anywhere else. Here’s a comprehensive list, just in case you get one of them on holiday. Your doctor at home will know nothing about them. 1. Cervicale, caused by getting hit by the air (colpo d’aria) The dreaded cervicale is a pain in the neck, and […]

A Bank Vault full of Priceless Treasure in Siracusa

A Bank Vault full of Priceless Treasure in Siracusa

I first visited Siracusa two summers ago. The highlight of my trip was visiting the Medagliere (numismatics treasury) in the Archaeological Museum and getting to know its charming curator, Rosalba Riccioli. Blonde and vivacious, Rosalba’s passion for the 2,500-year-old gold coins and jewellery in her care – and the intriguing stories behind them – is […]

Sicilian Politicians Handed over Half their Salaries to Pay for a New Road

Sicilian Politicians Handed over Half their Salaries to Pay for a New Road

In a world first, members of the Sicilian Parliament decided they got paid too much, and all gave back more than half their salaries to be used to help the public in need. The fund was recently put to use for its first public project when a road collapsed, leaving one community entirely cut off […]

Sulphur, Sicilians, and the Exodus to the USA

Sulphur, Sicilians, and the Exodus to the USA

There is not one manufacturing industry in the world that can work without sulphur. When the industrial revolution took place in the 19th century, 90% of all the sulphur in the world came from Sicily. These are Sicilian sulphur miners: Why are they working naked? It was 40 degrees centigrade above ground and down in […]

Eureka! Archimedes the Mathematician, Engineer and Crime Fighter

Eureka! Archimedes the Mathematician, Engineer and Crime Fighter

We all know the story of Archimedes flooding his bathroom, leaping out of his bath, and dashing stark naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!” in excitement at his discovery of the Archimedes Principle of water displacement. But exactly which city’s streets did the world’s first flasher actually dash through? For years I thought it was somewhere […]