“Long legged Italy
Kicked poor Sicily
Into the middle of the
My first memory of knowing anything about Sicily was a quiz question in the ‘Game of Life’ I was playing with a friend of mine when we were about 10. You know who you are, dear friend and you know the answer to this question!
I’d heard of Mt Etna and Palermo, and working at the travel company I’d edited many pictures of Taormina. Oh, and that the Mafia began there. That was the sum total of my knowledge of Sicily until I met dear husband. When I met him (Oh wow was he gorgeous, and interested in me! Nerdy little me!!) and he said he came from Catania, I was wracking my brain for something intelligent to say about Catania. Um…. I did’t quite know where it was in that moment, and the best my brain could come up with was “…I remember seeing a TV show about Etna, and a man was lighting his cigarettes from a hole in his back yard…..” Yep, when I met him, it was the stunned mullet, deer in the headlights kinda thing – brain was just not giving me anything vaguely intelligent.
I had studied Italian as a 6 year old at primary school (I can still sing the chicken song and recite the alphabet) and again in high school for 3 years. I was pretty bad at it (Outside of Italian class, I knew no one to speak with, and hadn’t discovered the Sydney radio station). I digress – in my completely “This really hot guy is into me” frame of mind, I decided I knew enough Italian to say “Happy Easter” a few nights later. I really should have done myself a favour and had a quick check on google translate – but no, I knew what I was doing!! My “Buona Pasquale” was met with a big smile and I think stifled laughter. The reply was “My sister’s husband is called Pasquale!” and another big smile I think hiding a bit more laughter. What I should have said is “Buona Pasqua”. We still laugh about it now.
Why am I telling you all this you wonder? Well, this began my fascination with all things Sicilian. In the weeks after meeting dear husband (Who I call to this day ‘mio tesoro’ because he really is ‘my treasure’) I began writing out by hand the whole of the Italian dictionary in the hope I would learn something…… I didn’t actually learn that much (after a 60km round trip to work and a full work day is that any wonder I didn’t take anything in?) but what I did realise about myself is that this love was something different from anything else. I would do the hard yards. I was head over heels in love like I had never been before. I’m telling you this because this is the beginning of what is a life long fascination with ‘the land of citrus’ – La bella Sicilia!
And so began my journey into all things Sicily – the good, bad, stuff you hope to learn from and the downright ugly.