Thursday, March 20, 2014

Wow!! It has been a long time since my last post but I promise I am back !!!!

I was just in Sicilia a few weeks ago and put over 800 miles on my rental car in just over 7 days. It was great!!!!!!

This imagine to the left is of AGIRA, a hilltop town in ENNA province. I have posted images from there before  but not of this view. Part of the joy for me is to  go to places the average tourist may not get to see. I cannot get enough of the island and I still have so much more to see AND  in so many different ways.

Returning to  CASTELLAMARE DEL GOLFO is always a treat. I happened to stay here one night as a friend, who knew I was going to be in Sicily, asked me if I could deliver a package to his mom. The fact that I am all the way over on the other side of the island was inconsequential !  Well, I did it and then stayed in nearby Castellamare del Golfo ( below)

 I had this idea to go to TROINA which is one of the highest villages in all of Sicily..I never made it !
I was sidetracked by the lateness of the day and also the fantastic view of GAGLIANO CASTELFERRATO which just blew me away. It will be the subject of more exploration this summer.

GIARDINI NAXOS, the first settlement of the Greeks in Sicilia, looms around the bend from Taormina on the beautiful SS 114 ( state road)

The day after my stay in CASTELLAMARE DEL GOLFO, I headed south and stopped outside of AGRIGENTO to see the limestone cliffs called the SCALA DI TURCHI. The beach is unspeakably beautiful.

Lastly, for now, I am a big fan of ANDREA CAMILLIERI who is the very well known Italian author who wrote the MONTALBANO series which also appears on Italian TV. Montalbano is the detective counterpart to America’s COLUMBO ( or vice versa). The stories take place in the fictitious Viga`ta which is really PORTO EMPEDOCLE also outside of AGRIGENTO. A statue of MONTALBANO stands proudly in the center of town.  BTW.. I have read all of his ( Camillieri) books and even tried to do it in italian  which is so laced with Sicilian ( language,not dialect) that i would need another lifetime to do it well !

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chiesa in Agira

  Passing by and through Terrasini with a wonderful friend Maria Lina Bommarito

 Catedrale in Monreale

 Climbing a hill near Sant'ambrogio

Thursday, March 21, 2013

 JUst a few photos while passing the time away and thinking of Sicilia. The top image is of Celfalu` during the winter months which offer a calmer state of being. The island of Mozia which is on the island of San Pantaleo close to Trapani. It is also very tranquil and a nice short boat ride form the major town.
 We met the sheep below while visiting Sant'Ambrogio also on the northern coast but at a higher elevation.

Keeping it short this time !
Buona Pasqua tutti !

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A few weeks ago, I read an interview on the online site, with the Sicilian born, American author FRANCESCA MIGNOSA whose recent book, 'MY SICILY" just garnered her  her second Italian literary award, 'Sicilia Mondo 2013". This was not only for her writing but for her overall ambassadorship in promoting Sicilia to the world. As soon as I saw the article, I said, "I have to get this book". It didn't take long before I received an email saying she was giving a talk about her book and growing up in Sicily, at the Italian American Museum in NYC! Needless to say, I went and was ecstatic to see her relate her overwhelming love for the island of her birth expressed in every word, phrase and sentence she so eloquently spoke.
After a lovely conversation and a few e mails, I asked her if she wouldn't mind speaking to my audience to share her passion and promote what she is doing to as wide an audience as possible.

I started by asking her to tell us a little about her life and how it influenced her desire to write this book and to promote Sicilia in general.

FM.  "I was born and raised in Augusta, Sicilia from a Sicilian father and a Sicilian American mother which probably helps to explain my geographical connection to both Sicilia and America. I can't really explain where my passion for writing came from except to say, I received my first diary book when I was five. I never stopped writing since then and  went on to receive a Masters in Screenwriting ( among others). I taught screenwriting and creative writing as well as working as a journalist and editor in chief of a prominent newspaper in Ohio where my family settled upon emigrating. A year  and a half ago, I decided to write my first book and dedicate it to my island, a magical place with which I am still so connected. At some point, my pen just took over and guided me in trying to convey all my deeply felt emotions regarding the culture, identity and spirit of Sicilia".

JZ. Being 16 at the time of emigrating here, what were the most difficult aspects of transitioning to this culture?

FM  My sister and I were brought up in a multicultural, multilingual home, where Italian, Sicilian, English and French were spoken so languages were a normal part of our development I can say they didn't pose any problems. My mom was a language teacher and we often had Study Abroad Students in our town constantly exposing us to various cultures and languages. We always lived in two cultures so  my transition was just a matter of geography basically. It was emotional in the sense of us having to leave our childhood friends ( we were only 16 and 14 at the time). It took us about three months for the initial culture shock to wear of but we were fine because we really did live in two cultures, often spending one to three months on vacation here in America".

JZ  You describe your book as a "Personal journey". Could you explain?

FM   The title, "MY SICILY" came about because  Sicily is NOT mine but belongs to all Sicilians, those who stayed and those who left as well as anyone who has an appreciation and love for her and all the things the island is. The title is because it is a book of  my personal memories, reflections, observations  and emotions expressed through my favorite places. The fact that I spent one and a half years researching the history, architecture, literature and cultural  aspects of the places most important to me hopefully makes this educational as well.

JZ. Your book has been very well received in Sicily. Please tell us about this.

FM  In October 2012, one month after the book was published, I received the prestigious, Italian Literary Award,"SICILIA MONDO 2013". My book is just a simple, genuine and transparent love letter to Sicily, an  island that even far away, still speaks to me very quietly, giving me so much joy and invigorating me every time I return. There are proposals to translate my book into Italian but I would like to do that myself when I have the time. This first book has resulted in so many interviews with newspapers and periodicals around the world so, again, I must find the time.

JZ  What projects are you involved in now and what do you have in mind? How can lovers of Sicilian culture assist?

FM   Right now Giuseppe, I am just writing. This entire year will be dedicated to 'My Sicily" book tours. The seeds are being planted for my second book but for now, you can follow me  on my blog at:   You can also purchase my book here as well.
I am also on Facebook  Francesca V. Mignosa ( author)

JZ  Is there anything you would like to add to help your message  get to as wide an audience as possible?

FM   I hope you will all visit Sicily one day soon. If you would like to travel with me, I will be leading a, "DREAMY ISLAND ESCAPE" to Sicily, The Aeolian Islands, Malta and Ponza in August  2013.
You can e mail me for additional information at

Thank you so much Francesca for your time, passion and love of Sicily. Buona fortuna !

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The L'opra dei Pupi  (Puppet theater) is a magical marionette theatrical representation of stories based on medieval chivalric literature and sources such as the Renaissance, lives of saints and tales of banditry.
Also extremely famous are the tales based on the poetry of Ludivico Ariosto first published in 1516. Dialogue was largely improvised. This art form is and always was, largely popular with the working class. Two schools of puppetry exist; that of Catania and the other Palermo. These images were made in Ortygia south of Catania over the connecting bridge to Syracusa. (Source info. found on Wikipedia:Sicilan puppetry)

  One night, during the summer, our neighbors invited us to go out for dinner, or cena, with them. As pranzo or lunch usually ends about 3pm, we were surprised when they asked us to be ready at 6:30. Ok, who are we to argue!  Well, the reason was that Roccafiorita  lies somewhere just this side of the end of the breathable oxygen layer of the earths' atmosphere. We barely made it there to see the sunset before feasting on a typically indescribable Sicilian array of meats, cheeses, antipaste and pasta. It really isn't fair.

 The Sicilian country side during the summer seems rather unforgiving as the verdant greenery of winter and spring give way to the parched straw colored landscapes which color the island summer.
Another view of MONGIBEDDU or Mount Etna looking our over the Plain of Catania

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

As the year ends, I was just thinking of  the snow that is missing from my Brooklyn window. So where was I going to turn for snow?  SICILIA!
Even though these were made in March, they satisfy my need and intensify my desire to return.

Buon anno nuovo tutti !

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

CARMELINA RICCIARDELLO is a rather unique individual. A native of Sicily who has extensively traveled after moving to Australia at the age of 7, she has found her way back to her roots and first love, Sicilia where she tirelessly works to promote all that is positive in her lovely island. She works countless hours a day  focusing on local experiences in her home town of SANT'AMBROGIO trying to make it an eco friendly destination for those wanting to taste the simpler life of Sicilian villagers. While meeting her (and staying at one of her typically Sicilian pensiones), I was amazed at how utterly beautiful a simple cooperative life can be. This is not meant to gloss over the many obstacles put in her path but she is an inspiration for those interested in organizing and enjoying a piece of old world history and culture without trampling the land or each other. I got to know her through another amazing Sicilian American woman from NYC, Karen La Rosa ( last post). Carmelina organized  a celebration in town for the NY Choral Society when they sang there in June of 2012.
You can feel the enthusiasm, energy and pride felt by the local people of SANT'AMBROGIO during the festa they prepared for the group through out the town one evening during the singing tour.

Below is an image of the towns populace celebrating the victory of Italy over England I believe it was, in the European Soccer finals. A tv screen was set up in the street, people sang, cheered, ate and celebrated in a way which should be characteristic of all of us.