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From tomorrow, every day, I'll tweet in this thread my personal A to Z of #Sicily. Four tweets for each letter. History, culture, people, food, towns & cities, curiosities. Of course, it'll just be a 'taste' of each subject in 280 characters but, it'll serve as an introduction >>
Tomorrow we start with A for: Agrigento;
arancini (or arancine);
A for Agrigento. To appreciate Sicily's history you must visit the Valley of Temples in Agrigento. You'll feel more in Greece than you would in Greece, especially on a scorching hot summer day. 7 ancient Greek temples to see, the most impressive being Temple of Concordia >>
A for arancini (eastern Sicily) or arancine (western Sicily). Sicilian street food at its best. Rice, saffron, caciocavallo cheese & ragù sauce rolled in flour & breadcrumbs, then deep fried. Dispute over name is endless & shape also varies between east (conical) & west (round)>
A for Archimedes. The Greek mathematician, famous for leaping out of his bath & running outside naked crying "Eureka" on discovering principle of water displacement, was born & lived in Siracusa, then a Greek colony. He was killed by Roman soldiers when the city fell in 212BC >>
A for antimafia. Sicily is sadly famous for mafia but there's also a strong & vibrant antimafia movement comprised of dozens of associations promoting a culture of legality. Activities range from education in schools to summer camps cultivating land confiscated from mafia bosses>
Tomorrow we move on to B for:
Bridge over Strait of Messina (spoiler: there isn't one yet) >>
B for Bronte: A town on NW slopes of Etna, renowned for its pistachio nuts. If you visit, try delicious pasta with pistachio pesto. It's also famous for the house that belonged to Nelson, made Duke of Bronte in 1799 & in whose honour Brontë sisters' father changed his surname >>
B for Paolo Borsellino: antimafia judge killed by mafia car bomb attack in Palermo 19 July 1992, along with 5 police guards, just 57 days after killing of his friend & colleague Giovanni Falcone. "If you are afraid, you die every day. If you are not afraid, you die only once." >>
B for Baroque: fans of Inspector Montalbano will be familiar with Sicilian Baroque architecture. The series is filmed in Modica, Ragusa Ibla, Scicli & other locations in SE Sicily. The towns here were flattened by an earthquake in 1693 & rebuilt in this highly decorative style >>
B for bridge over the Strait of Messina: the most recent plan to link Sicily to Italian mainland is for a single-span suspension bridge that would be the longest in the world at 3,300m. Concerns blocking construction include cost, environment, mafia infiltration & seismic risks >
Tomorrow we continue with C for:
C for Catania: 2nd largest city in Sicily & home to Sicily's busiest airport, so you may well arrive here to glorious views of the sprawling city dominated by Etna. Vibrant & chaotic, with sharp contrasts between bright sunlight & black lava stone used for paving & buildings >>
C for Andrea Camilleri: creator of 'Inspector Montalbano', adapted for TV, and author of historical novels, all strictly in Sicilian dialect. He continues to publish at 94, despite his blindness. Some consider him to be Italy's greatest living writer >>
C for Charybdis: 'between Scylla & Charybdis', the two mythical monsters on either side of the Strait of Messina. Charybdis, on the Sicilian side sucked in water creating whirlpools that pulled in ships. In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus preferred to take his chances with Scylla >>
C for ceramics: Sicilian ceramics are extremely colourful & add vivacity to any room. They're produced all over the island but the most famous town for ceramics is Caltagirone, where the Santa Maria del Monte staircase has 142 steps, each with different hand-decorated ceramics >>
Tomorrow it's D for:
Dancing Satyr of Mazara del Vallo;
D for driving. FAQs on driving in Sicily:
Right of way at junction? Driver with strongest nerves
Red light? What Red light?
Stop sign? Nah...
Give way? You're kidding, right?
Seatbelts? For wimps
Indicators? Optional
Bus lane? My car is now a bus
Speed limit? Abstract concept >>
D for dialect: Sicilian dialect is alive & well, widely spoken & enough young people still use it to ensure its survival for quite a while. Many concepts can only be expressed, or at least are much better expressed in dialect, such as numerous proverbs >>
D for Dancing Satyr: stunning 2.5m Greek bronze statue from 3rd century BC caught in nets of a fishing boat from Mazara del Vallo in 1998. Restored & reinforced so it can be displayed upright & to protect it from earthquakes, it can be seen in the museum in Mazara del Vallo >>
D for death: on All Souls Day (2 November) Sicilians visit their relatives' graves & children receive gifts from them, hidden around the house. Just like Santa at Christmas. "The culture of death belongs not only to the mafia: it pervades Sicily as a whole" (Giovanni Falcone) >>
Tomorrow we move on to E for:
E for Etna: possibly most accessible active volcano in the world. 3,300m (10,800ft) high & 135km around base, dominating eastern Sicily. To reach summit, join a group with guide, don't risk it alone. Tip: if flying to Catania, book window seat on left side for view (usually!) >>
E for Erice: charming mediaeval town on an 840m high mountain at extreme western end of Sicily. Accessible by cable car, it offers spectacular views over city of Trapani & Egadi Islands. In winter there is an eerie atmosphere with few inhabitants. In summer tourists abound >>
E for earthquakes: whole of Sicily is prone to destructive earthquakes. Most recent catastrophic earthquake was in Messina in 1908, measuring 7.2 followed by tsunami up to 6m high, killing 90,000-120,000. Messina (where I live) experiences these quakes every 120 years on average>
E for emigration: one reason why Sicilians are tolerant & welcoming towards migrants arriving here in boats from Africa is because they also have a history of emigrating to escape poverty. Their descendents can be found from Australia to the USA, from Germany to Argentina >>
Next up tomorrow it's F for:
Giovanni Falcone;
F for Giovanni Falcone: antimafia judge killed by mafia 23 May 1992 with his wife & 3 guards, in explosion of 400kg of explosives below motorway near Palermo. In this interview journalist asks "What makes you do this job?" He replies "spirit of service">>
F for films: Sicily is beautiful setting for films, though these are often linked to mafia, such as the Godfather (a ridiculous film, an "americanata"). The most famous film set in Sicily is probably wonderful Cinema Paradiso with its tear jerking finale>
F for flag: the Sicilian flag bears a striking resemblance to the flag of Isle of Man, both bearing the triskelion (or trinacria). The head represents the Medusa with hair made of snakes & ears of wheat represent the fact that the Romans called Sicily the granary of the empire >>
F for family: "...family is the only institution that really exists in Sicilians' conscience...Family is the State for Sicilians...They might be enthused by the State or even lead the government: but their rights & duties will be defined by their family..." (Leonardo Sciascia) >>
Tomorrow it's G for:
Renato Guttuso;
Greek theatres;
Apologies but G will have to wait until tomorrow. Possibly a double helping with H.
G for granita: popular for breakfast with brioche (purists insist you need 2 brioches) in traditional flavours of coffee, lemon & strawberry, with modern day addition of cream. Originated in mediaeval times when fruit syrup was added to snow conserved underground or in caves >>
G for Renato Guttuso: born Bagheria (1911), neorealist painter active in politics as Senator for Italian Communist Party (1976-83). Famous works include 'Vucciria', depicting famous Palermo market, and ceiling of Vittorio Emanuele Theatre in Messina depicting legend of Colapesce>
G for Greek theatres: theatre was an important element in ancient Greek society & numerous well conserved theatres can be found in Sicily: Siracusa, Segesta, Taormina, Heraclea Minoa. Many are still used today. Greek tragedies & comedies are performed in Siracusa in May & June >>
G for Grammichele: a town built after the catastrophic earthquake of 1693 in SE Sicily. It has a hexagonal street layout, the only example in Sicily and one of only two in Italy, the other being Palmanova in Friuli Venezia Giulia >>
Tomorrow H for:
Hilltop towns;
Hiding places;
H for hilltop towns: travelling along Sicilian coast you'll see that modern towns are by the sea but mediaeval ones are inland on hilltops as defence against invaders & pirates. The Arabs, for example, conquered Sicily in 902, but the hilltop town of Rometta held out until 965 >>
H for hiding places: mountainous terrain & rugged coastline of Sicily have always been ideal for bandits, smugglers & mafiosi, with abundant caves & isolated outhouses. Thus, contrary to what you see in films, mafia bosses may spend most of their lives in squalid surroundings >>
H for handicrafts: there are numerous uniquely Sicilian handicrafts. One of these is the creation of Sicilian carts (carretti). Richly decorated & highly colourful, the skills involved are passed down in families. The one in this photo somehow found its way to a museum in Hull >>
H for holidays: Sicily is not subject to mass tourism experienced in some other Mediterranean areas & its potential as a destination is woefully underexploited. Holidays can be centred around any mix of beaches, archaeology, hiking, cycling, diving, sailing or even skiing >>
Next up I for:
Peppino Impastato;
I for invasions: Sicily has been invaded or occupied by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese, Spanish, Savoyards, Habsburgs, Bourbons & Italians. Hence its varied heritage. The last invasion was by the Anglo-Americans in 1943 >>
I for Peppino Impastato: born into a mafia family, he chose to leave. Investigative journalist & antimafia activist, he was killed by mafia on 9 May 1978, aged 30. His death was staged to make it look like he was planting a bomb. Truth emerged when his brother broke with mafia >>
I for islands: Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean (bigger than Wales) but numerous smaller islands are dotted around it. Eolian Islands, most famous being active volcano Stromboli, Egadi Islands, Ustica, Pantelleria, Linosa & Lampedusa, further south than Malta >>
I for independence: since Italian unification the only period in which there was serious talk of independence was after liberation in 1943. The movement was divided, disorganised & infiltrated by the mafia, so came to nothing (this can be said about a lot of things in Sicily) >>
J for Judges: judges killed by mafia in Sicily.
Pietro Scaglione (5 May 1971)
Cesare Terranova (25 September 1979)
Gaetano Costa (6 August 1980)
Giangiacomo Ciaccio Montalto (26 January 1983)
Rocco Chinnici (29 July 1983)
Alberto Giacomelli (14 September 1988) >>
J for Judges: judges killed by mafia in Sicily (continued).
Antonino Saetta (25 September 1988)
Rosario Livatino (21 September 1990)
Antonino Scopelliti (9 August 1991)
Giovanni Falcone (23 May 1992)
Francesca Morvillo (23 May 1992)
Paolo Borsellino (19 July 1992) >>
J for journalists: journalists killed by mafia in Sicily.
Cosimo Cristina (5 May 1960)
Mauro De Mauro (16 September 1970)
Giovanni Spampinato (27 October 1972)
Peppino Impastato (9 May 1978)
Mario Francese (26 January 1979)
Carmine Pecorelli (20 March 1979) >>
J for journalists: journalists killed by mafia in Sicily (continued).
Giuseppe Fava (5 January 1984)
Mauro Rostagno (26 September 1988)
Beppe Alfano (8 January 1993) >>
K for Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: in 1816 Kingdoms of Naples & Sicily, both ruled by Bourbons, were joined. Unpopular in Sicily as the capital moved to Naples, rebellions were common, especially in 1848. It ended in 1861 after Garibaldi invaded & became part of unified Italy >>
K for Kalsa: this area in central Palermo was built during the Arab domination & the Emir's residence was located here. In recent times it has undergone extensive renovation work & houses numerous monuments, including Palazzo Chiaramonte-Steri, home to the Inquisition in Sicily>>
Apologies for the brevity of J and K. Tomorrow we'll be back to a normal full four with L for:
L for Lampedusa: small rocky island closer to Tunisia than Sicily. Famous for beach of 'Isola dei Conigli', where sea turtles lay their eggs, in recent years hundreds of thousands of migrants have arrived here, accepted by islanders, medicated & fed; many hundreds, sadly, buried>
L for lemons: lemons are so plentiful in Sicily they are ridiculously cheap & many are not even picked. Essential for accompanying fish & often meat, as well as for making limoncello & granita, in the past lemon juice was often added to water as a disinfectant before drinking >>
L for literature: everybody knows Andrea Camilleri but here are some other famous Sicilian writers worth reading:
Giovanni Verga
Luigi Pirandello
Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (author of the Leopard)
Salvatore Quasimodo
Elio Vittorini
Gesualdo Bufalino
Leonardo Sciascia (photo) >>
L for lunch: lunch is the most important meal of the day in Sicily. Shops close 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., school ends 2 p.m., offices close 1 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. & everybody who can heads home for lunch. Hence, 4 rush hours per day instead of 2. A meal with the family is sacrosanct >>
Tomorrow we move on to M for:
Mosaics of Piazza Armerina;
Sergio and Piersanti Mattarella.
M for Monreale: 5km south of Palermo, Monreale is famous for its Cathedral. Construction began under Norman King William II in 1172. The interior is decorated with spectacular gold mosaics depicting biblical events from the creation to foundation of the church by the apostles >>
M for Marsala: Marsala is famous as Place where Garibaldi landed in 1860 on his expedition to conquer southern Italy & as site of ancient Phoenician-Punic city of Motya on an island in the lagoon. Archaeological digs here have uncovered a sanctuary for the sacrifice of children>
M for Marsala (wine): Marsala fortified wine owes its success to the English. John Woodhouse was first to export it in competition with Madeira & Sherry. Ingham & Whitaker soon joined in, as well as Italian company Florio. It is widely used in cooking, especially meat & desserts>
M for mosaics of Piazza Armerina: near the town is the Roman Villa of Casale famous for huge number of beautiful & well preserved mosaics. Each room has a different theme, such as circus or big game hunting, but most famous is 'bikini' mosaic depicting women engaged in sports >>
M for Sergio & Piersanti Mattarella: Sergio Mattarella is the first Sicilian President of Italy. His dedication to public service is inspired by the sacrifice of his brother Piersanti, President of Sicilian Region, who was shot by mafia in 1980 & died in Sergio's arms (photo)
Tomorrow it's N for:
'ncaciati & 'ncasciata.
N for Noto: original town of Noto was destroyed in the 1693 earthquake, which killed 60,000. The ruins can still be visited. The new town was built in Baroque style and has undergone renovation work since the disastrous collapse of the Cathedral cupola (now rebuilt) in 1996 >>
N for nepotism: with youth unemployment of 50%+ in Sicily, it's unsurprising families use network of relatives, friends, acquaintances to try to 'sistemare' their children. The problem is it sometimes crosses borderline of legality & hinders development of healthy labour market>>
N for noise: the Sicilian philosophy of life is "I make noise therefore I am." Driving, speaking on the phone, doing the housework, singing in the shower: whatever Sicilians do, they tend to do it loudly, but it is rarely irritating. It is an expression of their exuberance >>
N for 'ncaciata or 'ncasciata: Sicilian recipe for oven baked pasta, based on caciocavallo & pecorino cheese, aubergines, egg & mortadella (recipe in photo). There are variants with ragù sauce (Montalbano prefers this), cauliflower or broccoli. It is also popular for picnics >>
Tomorrow O for:
Leoluca Orlando;
O for Leoluca Orlando: elected 4 times Mayor of Palermo (currently in office), his 1st term 1985-90 is known as 'Palermo spring' for improvement of city's image. Astute politician whose career even survived a run-in with Falcone. Now, he's fighting Salvini's anti-migrant rules >>
O for omertà: often understood to be a code of silence within mafia, in reality omertà is a much wider & deeply ingrained social attitude born of mixture of fear & of distrust of authority. So, even in everyday situations, such as traffic accidents, it's hard to find witnesses >>
O for oranges: widely grown across the island, the most famous Sicilian oranges are 'blood' oranges of Tarocco, Sanguinello & Moro varieties. These are grown in eastern Sicily, particularly around Mount Etna, where the volcanic soil gives them a very high Vitamina C content >>
O for openness: Sicilians are very tolerant people, as shown by arrival of hundreds of thousands of migrants in recent years. People have volunteered, donated, fostered unaccompanied minors & even given up space in family tombs to bury those who didn't survive the crossing >>
Next up it's P for:
Public transport;
Pane e panelle.
P for Palermo: capital of Sicily with traces of every culture that ruled here. Don't miss: Palazzo dei Normanni (seat of Sicilian Parliament) with stunning Palatina Chapel (photo), Church of San Giovanni degli Eremiti, Teatro Massimo, Ballarò & Vucciria markets, Giardino Inglese>
P for parking: finding parking spaces in Sicily can be hard, so here's an easy guide:
Pavement = parking space
Zebra crossing = parking space
Bus stop = parking space
Bus lane = parking space
Roundabout = parking space
Cycle lane = parking space
Parking ticket = badge of honour>
P for public transport: public transport in Sicily is slow, unreliable & cheap. E.g. travel from Messina to Trapani by train, distance 330km (200 miles), best time 7h41m, price €20.60. Buses are cheap (e.g. €1.20 flat fare) but it's easier to find one at 5 a.m. than at 8 p.m.>>
P for pane e panelle: panelle are fritters made from chickpea flour, originally introduced by the Arabs, and are a popular street food in Palermo. They are normally served in a sesame seed bun, known as a 'Mafalda', or with potato croquettes, seasoned with salt, pepper and lemon>
Tomorrow it's Q for:
Quattrocentosedici bis (416 bis);
Quarantuno bis (41 bis);
Q for Quattrocentosedici bis: article 416bis Italian Criminal Code, introduced in 1982 after murders of Pio La Torre & Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, was huge advance in fighting mafia. Stiff sentences were introduced for membership of or participation in mafia-type organisations >>
Q for Quarantuno bis: article 41bis of Italian Prison regulations allows for mafia prisoners to be held under a very strict regime:
Solitary confinement;
1 visit of 1 hour per month communicating by intercom;
Censorship of post;
Strict limits on personal objects in cell >>
Q for queuing: queuing is not part of Sicilians' DNA. Post offices, banks & public offices have generally introduced 'take a number' queuing systems but if you want to know what happens otherwise, watch the video filmed in Messina City Council offices >>
Q for quotes: Quotes on Sicily & Sicilians.
1. "Italy is incredible: and you need to go to Sicily to realise just how incredible Italy is." (Leonardo Sciascia)
2. "Without seeing Sicily you can't understand Italy. Sicily is the key to everything." (Goethe) >>
Q for quotes: quotes on Sicily & Sicilians.
"Take a problem of any kind (political, social, cultural, technical or other) and ask two Italians to solve it: a Milanese & a Sicilian. After one day, the Sicilian will have ten ideas of how to solve it, the Milanese none... (cont.)
After two days, the Sicilian will have a hundred ideas on how to solve the problem, the Milanese none. After three days, the Sicilian will have a thousand ideas on how to solve the problem, and the Milanese will already have solved it." (Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa)
Q for quotes: quotes on Sicily & Sicilians:
4. "It takes longer to cross Sicily by train than to fly to the other side of the world." (Sergio Rizzo)
5. "Sicilians easily fall into the trap of expecting to undersand Sicily before understanding themselves." (Gesualdo Bufalino) >>
Next up R for:
Totò Riina;
Race to Messina.
R for Totò Riina: mafia boss, leader of Corleonesi faction that ruthlessly took over Cosa Nostra in late 1970s & 80s. On the run from 1969, he was captured in 1993. Responsible for hundreds of murders & sentenced to life imprisonment 19 times, he died in prison in 2017 >>
R for Ragusa: Baroque town familiar to viewers of Montalbano, rebuilt after catastrophic earthquake of 1693 in two distinct districts: upper Ragusa & Ragusa Ibla, built on ruins of the old city & maintaining original mediaeval layout. Most of the important monuments are in Ibla>>
R for religion: religion for Sicilians is more question of tradition or superstition than faith. Every town has its religious processions on patron saints' days, at Easter or other religious festivals. Ask them why they attend & the answer will be "perché si fa" (because you do)>
R for Race to Messina: after Allies landed in Sicily in July 1943, US 7th Army headed for western Sicily (Palermo) & British 8th Army went up east coast via Catania. An unofficial 'race' developed between Patton & Montgomery to arrive 1st in Messina, won by Patton by a few hours>
Next up in this thread S for:
Segesta & Selinunte;
S for Siracusa: ancient Greek city, home to Archimedes, famous for large Greek theatre (photo), still used for plays every June. Heart of city is Ortygia Island with Baroque/Rococo Cathedral incorporating doric columns of Greek temple & Fountain of Arethusa with papyrus plants >>
S for Segesta & Selinunte: two archaeological sites in western Sicily which are not near modern cities but in isolated atmospheric countryside locations. Both have Greek temples (Segesta, left photo; Selinunte, right photo) & Segesta also has a theatre dug out of a hillside >>
S for swordfish: caught in Strait of Messina June-August from boats called 'ferluche' (photo). Lookout stands in crow's nest & harpoonist at end of walkway extending from bow. Swordfish swim in couples & fishermen try to kill female first, as male will swim up to defend her >>
S for scooters: if you're driving in Sicily for first time, scooters will be a constant worry. As Camilleri said, scooters satisfy Sicilians' desire for anarchy. Given chaotic traffic, difficulty in finding parking spaces & favourable climate, they are a logical transport choice>
Later this evening we move on to T for:
T for Trapani: at westernmost tip of Sicily & departure port for Egadi Islands & Pantelleria, Trapani is home to many beautiful churches, most famous being the Purgatorio Church. Also renowned for salt production, the salt evaporation ponds to the south offer a unique landscape>>
T for Taormina: one of the top tourist destinations in Sicily, its narrow streets get very crowded in summer. Situated on a hill & linked to beaches by cable car, it offers breathtaking views of Etna, not least from marvellous Greek theatre, which hosts various events in summer>>
T for time: Sicilians have a slightly different concept of time, less rigid, let's say. If you arrange to meet at 11, that means any time between 11 & 12. If you take something to be repaired & they say it'll be ready tomorrow, they mean next week. Flexibility is everything >>
T for Tonnara: place where tuna were caught & processed. Many are found in Sicily, mostly in ruins (in photo, Scopello). Tuna were lured into series of gradually narrowing nets, several km long. In final net, they were surrounded by boats & harpooned in a 'mattanza' (slaughter)>>
Next up it's U for:
UNESCO World Heritage Sites;
Unification of Italy.
U for Ucciardone: main prison in Palermo, it has housed many notorious mafia inmates & is famous for 'Aula Bunker', a courtroom built in 1985/86 to host maxi-trial against 475 members of Cosa Nostra in safety, without transporting prisoners. Designed to withstand missile attack>>
U for UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 7 in Sicily.
1. Arab-Norman Palermo & Cefalù & Monreale Cathedrals;
2. Valley of Temples, Agrigento;
3. Mount Etna;
4. Eolian Islands;
5. Baroque Cities, Val di Noto;
6. Roman Villa of Casale, Piazza Armerina;
7. Siracusa & Pantalica Necropolis>
U for unemployment: scourge of Sicilian society, not helped by mafia, corrupt politicians, bureaucracy, & inefficiency. Unemployment rate is around 23%, while youth unemployment is as high as 53%. This leads to emigration, especially among younger better educated Sicilians >>
U for Unification of Italy: Garibaldi's expedition to bring southern Italy into a unified Italy began when he landed in Marsala on 11 May 1860 with 1,089 men. With help of Sicilian volunteers & insurrection by population, he captured Palermo on 30 May & reached Messina on 27 July
Next up V for:
V for volcanoes: besides Etna, Sicily has 2 volcanoes, in Eolian Islands - Stromboli, highly active, & Vulcano, dormant since 1890. Vulcano is easy & safe to climb (386m), climb up Stromboli (926m) is tougher, with guide, with protective helmet & few minutes at top due to gas >>
V for Vucciria: atmospheric historical market in narrow streets of port area of Palermo, mainly selling fruit, vegetables & fish. Cooked street food is also sold, such as octopus, sardines, panelle (see P) & 'stigghiole' (photo), lamb guts rolled around leek on skewer & grilled>>
V for vegetables: Sicily is a great place for vegetarians. Prominent, among others, in Sicilian cooking you'll find aubergines, courgettes, peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, olives, onions, tomatoes, capers, garlic, wild fennel, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, chard & pumpkin >>
V for Vespers: Sicilian Vespers was revolt against French occupiers of Sicily & their King Charles I. It broke out on evening of Easter Monday 1282. Up to 13,000 French men, women & children were killed.Power void was soon filled by Aragonese, who landed promising more rights >>
Next letter is W for:
W for wine: Sicily is famous for its fortified wines (Marsala, Malvasia, Zibibbo) but produces many other eccellente wines such as Etna, Alcamo, Salaparuta, Faro, Menfi, Santa Margherita di Belice. Some of the best known labels are Corvo, Donnafugata, Florio Fazio & Pellegrino >>
W for weather: Mediterranean climate means hot dry summers, with temperatures regularly 30°+ but winters can be very wet, especially in eastern Sicily, with periods of intense rainfall & snow is not uncommon on higher ground. In January & February you can usually ski on Etna >>
W for water: water is plentiful in eastern Sicily, adequate in western Sicily but nowhere can you count on water supply 24/7 due to ageing & inadequate infrastructure. So, everybody has water tanks on the roof. In event of major failure, you can go a week without mains water >>
W for Whitaker: Joseph Whitaker, from Wakefield in Yorkshire, arrived in Sicily in 1819 to work with Benjamin Ingham in production & sale of Marsala wine. His son, Joseph Isaac (photo), is famous for buying & excavating the island of Motya, uncovering its Phoenician-Punic city >>
Missing out X for obvious reasons, for Y I am going to link to 4 YouTube videos with a Sicilian theme. Starting with something light, a video of Sicilian stand-up comic Teresa Mannino explaining the differences between Milanese and Sicilians (in Italian)
For 2nd video, something serious: 1990 TV interview with Judge Giovanni Falcone. He rarely gave interviews and was a very reserved person. Listen to his calm voice (he had already survived an attempt on his life). In Italian with (poor) English subtitles>>
For 3rd video some Sicilian folk-rock music from Kunsertu >>
4th & final video, traffic at an intersection in Palermo. Watch carefully and you'll notice that cars, motorbikes & pedestrians behave exactly as if they were models manouvered by a 6 year old playing on the bedroom floor.
Tomorrow I'll end the thread with Z and I'll be giving away one free copy of a guidebook to Sicily and one copy of a book of Sicilian recipes (both translated into English by me)
Ok, final 4 tweets of the thread coming up with Z for:
Zingaro Nature Reserve;
Luca Zingaretti.
Z for Zancle: original name of ancient Greek city now called Messina. Important for strategic position at narrowest point of Strait and for its natural harbour, in shape of a sickle. This means ships come right into city centre, making it a popular destination for cruise ships >>
Z for Zisa: a district now in central Palermo but originally a large park outside the city walls used by royalty for hunting. The Palazzo della Zisa (photo) was the summer residence of Kings of Sicily and has an Arab style garden with fountains >>
Z for Zingaro Nature Reserve: beautiful nature reserve, covering 1,700 hectares along coast between Castellammare di Stabia and San Vito lo Capo. There are three itineraries to follow. Among the bird species to be found here are the Peregrine Falcon, Bonelli's Eagle & Red Kite >>
Z for Luca Zingaretti: famous for his interpretation of Montalbano, Zingaretti is from Rome but is now an 'honorary Sicilian' thanks to a perfect Sicilian accent & acting as sort of 'ambassador' for Sicily. He has fallen in love with Sicily & got married at Donnafugata Castle >>
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