You know you've been Sicilianized when you drive, dress and behave like one.

When Italian friends started commenting that the Tuscan slang I’d picked up during my time in Arezzo (mi babbo for my dad, allò for let’s go) had morphed into a Sicilian twang, I started wondering if I’d been Sicilianized…

You know you've been Sicilianized when... Your car has missing wing mirrors and many dents. You double park alongside other cars and leave the lights flashing without a second thought – their drivers know they just have to honk and you'll move your car. You park on pavements, take shortcuts down one-way systems. You cruise through town and pull out into oncoming traffic, and never, ever let other drivers out in front of you. The one time I tried a local shortcut (that everyone uses) I narrowly missed crashing into a police car with four carabinieri who glared at me. I haven’t quite mastered Sicilian driving yet...

You spend winter in the gym so you have the perfect beach body, and “prepare” your body for the sun by having a few sunbed sessions. Then you hit the shingle in your new sarong, kaftan and wide rim hat with matching accessories. I am still the white Irish one who gets pitying looks from bronzed gods (they think they are) in tight Speedoes.
You complain frequently about the weather and your health, exaggerating your aches and pains because this wards off the Evil Eye; no one can envy you if they think you're suffering more than they are. You are most convincing if you get a cervicale (back, neck and shoulder pain particular to Italians) from a sciangazza (draught) or a colpo d’aria in your eye (another deadly draught). Worst of all: the cold stomach.

You feel sirocced, that is, lethargic and headachy when the Sirocco wind blows from the South East. You don't wash your car or hang out your washing because another Sirocco is coming soon to leave its sandy trail over your clothes and windows.

You believe in the Evil Eye and to this end, when asked how you are you never reply “Fine, thanks,” because that would just be courting trouble, but rather, “Not so bad,” or “So-so”, accompanied by a sigh and shrug of the shoulders. This avoids said envy so no one is wondering what you're so happy about.

You wear your black – and it’s got to be black – puffer jacket even on warm sunny April days because it is not officially summer. You wear high heeled shoes, the higher the better, preferably sky high platforms, so that you are taller than your partner. To my husband’s dismay I got a pair last summer because my flipflop straps broke on a rare night out with friends. Right in front of a shoe shop with a 70% summer sale…

You wear a tracksuit in the morning to take your child to school and do the shopping. I’m guilty of this one. I know my son’s teachers at pre-school don’t believe I go for a walk after dropping my son off: they think I can't wait to get home and clean my kitchen windows and fry aubergines like a good Sicilian housewife.

You're blind to roadside rubbish and pull in alongside the skip to fling your trash bag from the car window. I can’t ignore the rubbish, it is the one thing that makes me feel I live in a developing country when the skips overflow and the rubbish is not collected for several days. But we all know the underlying reasons...

You read The Gazetta del Sud in bars and can discuss topics of local relevance with passion. At first I missed the copy of La Repubblica, present in most Tuscan bars, until I understood: what’s the point of reading a national paper when the central government ignores Sicily anyway? The local paper reports on all the juicy local crimes, mostly mafia-related, which never make national news. You’re a real Sicilian when the locals actually discuss mafia issues with you, on the assumption that you know and understand.

You are resistant to change and treat foreigners (anyone not from your town) with caution, if not outright suspicion. After all, you know nothing about their family background.

And last, but not least, you've been Sicilianized for sure if you've got your mother-in-law’s recipe for sword-fish rolls, caponatina and stuffed aubergines. I have yet to pen these. Shame on me – I’m spoiled with the restaurant.

* Some basic Sicilian dialect from the Milazzo area: accucchiati, va (get out of here!), ammonini (let's go), scianghazza (draught), o che fazzu? (sure what can I do?), io sacciu (I know), ma che beddu chistu picciriddu (that kid is so cute).


  1. Brilliant Bro! wonderful description! But Irish girls wear very high heels too!!! Sparkiling, shocking pink stilts!!!! MAD!

  2. This is such an amazing description of being Sicilianized! Love your blog - glad to have found you!

    1. Many thanks, Karen? Are you living in Sicily? Have you been Sicilianized? ;)