This post was written by Veronica, the brain and pen behind Sicilian Godmother. When I asked her to write a guest post about things she loves and hates about Sicily, I didn’t expect to open such a big can of worms! Her initial draft was way longer than this, which says a lot about what impact Sicily has on people. I hope you’ll enjoy her hilarious (but painfully accurate) post just as much as I did.
Have you ever known someone you loved like an obsession, but who drove you crazy at the same time? Sicily is like that.
When Secret Sicily asked me to write this post, I almost sent her a book. She told me off, so I cut it down to the winning three in each category.
The worst things in Sicily
BRONZE MEDAL: Terrible Driving
Sicilians think that holding the steering wheel is optional. With their phone in one hand, they’ll obviously need the other one free for gesticulating. To guide the car, they just have to use their knees.
They disapprove of double-parking, preferring to triple-park instead.
When they see a friend coming the other way, they stop alongside them for a long chat out of their car windows, thus blocking all the traffic in both directions till the gigantic tailback causes a crash at the level crossing around the block. Then, when they turn round the corner, they moan louder than everyone else about being held up.
SILVER MEDAL: Shameless Cheating
Sicilians know all the rules perfectly, but they think they are for everyone else, not for them.
Policemen get their friends’ parking and speeding tickets to disappear by magic, doctors never pay their income tax, and queuing is something Sicilians only ever get to see on television.
When I was showing a friend around Sicily last year, she commented on the beautiful English love poems spray-painted all over a wall.
“What classy vandals they have!” she exclaimed.
“Nope,” I told her, pointing at the school across the piazza. ”The kids put these up ready for their English exam.”
GOLD MEDAL: Disorganisation
Why is it that most Sicilians could not organise a piss-up in a brewery yet, when it comes to organised crime, they are more efficient than MI5 and the CIA? What would happen if education and medical care were outlawed in Sicily? I think Palermo University would take six months to overtake Cambridge and Oxford, and they’d find a cure for AIDS and cancer within the year.
The best things in Sicily
BRONZE MEDAL: Resourcefulness
If you left most people on a desert island with nothing, they would soon end up like this:
Most Sicilians, on the other hand, would manage to create a five-star tropical resort for themselves, like this:
They call this “The Art of Arranging Oneself.”
I once went to a picnic site with Da Family and found there were no free tables. Whilst we walked along, my brother-in-law picked up a length of blue rope lying on the ground, all the fallen branches we passed, and another piece of old rope. When we reached a small clearing he used them to construct a dining table, a side-board and a hammock.
SILVER MEDAL: Love of Children
When my son was a toddler, he would get smothered in kisses wherever we went. The postman, the chemist and all the fishermen in the village would kiss him, cuddle him and offer him sweets. Absolutely any Sicilian restaurant would rearrange half their tables to make space for our push chair, and offer to warm up bottles of baby formula too.
Then we visited England. A grumpy girl beside me on the plane swore because she thought my son might cry during the flight. In London we were told by three restaurants in a row that children and dogs were not allowed. When we travelled on London Underground a woman deliberately made her heavy shoulder bag swing into his face.
I couldn’t wait to get him back among the Sicilians, who treat everybody’s bambini as they treat their own.
GOLD MEDAL: The Men
Sicilian men cook. Can you think of anything more sexy than that?
Sicilian men can think of nothing they’d rather do in their spare time than get seven chickens, two lambs and five goats out of their freezer, buy a calf from the butcher and a truck of vegetables and invite all their friends and family over for a barbecue.
Being English, the food I expect from a barbecue is a piece of chicken marinated in lighter fuel, which is mostly raw but burnt black on one side.
Sicilian men hand me things like tender artichoke hearts which they have drizzled with crushed garlic in lemon juice and olive oil, or a flame grilled swordfish steak with their own secret orange and black pepper garnish.