Selected Works

Nonfiction
A look at life in little-known mountain towns of the Sicilian hinterlands.
A true account of the last years of an ancient Sicilian giant bluefin tuna trap.






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Out of Palermo

25th anniversary of Mafia/State murder of Paolo Borsellino

July 19, 2017

Tags: Paolo Borsellino, judge, investigator, anti-mafia, assassination, escorts, 25th anniversary, mafia, state, people, sorrow, grief, hero, martyr, honest

After the church bells tolled, after the minute of silence at 4:58 p.m., the moment the car bomb exploded twenty-five years before, the assassinated Judge Paolo Borsellino's brother read the names of the victims:
Paolo Borsellino
Agostino Catalano
Emanuela Loi
Walter Eddiee Cosina
Claudio Traina

Temporary humanitarian visas

July 19, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

From The Guardian:
Italy has confirmed it is considering issuing temporary humanitarian visas that would allow tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in the country from Libya to travel around the European Union.

The move would provoke an immediate Austrian response, including the closure of the border with Italy at the Brenner Pass.
Austrian troops to stop migrants crossing border with Italy
Read more

The chances of Italy being able legally to grant unilateral humanitarian visas in this way is slight, but the threat is intended to concentrate minds in the EU after Italy failed to win clear practical support from Germany and France to take more people that have been arriving in increasing numbers from Libya.

mafia profits from immigrants' suffering

July 18, 2017

Tags: migrants, mafia, suffering

From the New York Times:
ISOLA DI CAPO RIZZUTO, Italy — The government provided millions of euros to care for the migrants who had arrived at the reception center at Italy’s toe after traveling across deserts, war zones or choppy seas. But on many days, they were served little more than rancid chicken. Some did not eat at all when the food ran out.

At the same time, the priest who founded the local branch of the charity managing the center was spending money on expensive hotels and restaurants, splurging on fine wines and stashing thousands of euros in three safes at home, the authorities say. His business partners — mobsters and their associates — outfitted their bathtubs with golden taps. Some hid thousands of euros in vacuum-sealed plastic bags tucked in their fireplaces. (more…)

July 16, 2017

Tags: Mattanza, first edition, first printing, author signed, personalized inscription, eBay, Favignana, book, first, nonfiction, giant bluefin tuna, fishermen, tonnaroti, tradition, gone, extinct, history

For sale by me on eBay:
15 copies of my first book, Mattanza, in pristine condition, signed by me and with a personalized inscription. I have kept these books in temperature- and humidity-controlled storage since they were first printed. Hardcover first printing, first edition, illustrated, with end papers.
Click on the caption to see my auction on eBay.

Sicilians offer swimming, diving lessons to refugees traumatized by their sea crossing

July 16, 2017

Tags: trauma, fear, water, swim, scuba, dive, immigrants, sicilians, warm, heart, empathy, compassion, refugees, crossing, Mediterranean

From the Washington Post:
By Michael Birnbaum July 15 at 7:12 PM
MESSINA, Italy — Abdoulie Jallow lives on the Sicilian coast, but until recently, looking at the Mediterranean Sea filled him with dread.
The azure water reminded the 17-year-old Gambian of his journey from Libya last year, a middle-of-the-night departure on an overcrowded dinghy in which he had to abandon himself to his faith in God. (more…)

7300 rescued immigrants to arrive southern Italy tomorrow

July 13, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning

From La Repubblica Palermo online today:
Seven- thousand- three- hundred immigrants rescued in the Strait of Sicily in the last 48 hours will disembark from ten rescue ships tomorrow in Sicily, Campania and Puglia, Italy's southern provinces.
This morning another 386 reached the Sicilian port of Trapani, including 71 children and 55 women, ten of whom are pregnant.

According to the latest data from Frontex, the European Union's border police, in June 24,800 migrants crossed the Mediterranean Sea, with an increase of eight percent over the previous month of May. And that number is 21 percent higher than the same period of last year. In the first six months of 2017, 166,000 migrants crossed the sea to reach the European Union.

Sicilians Do It Better: Dolce & Gabbana Present Their Alta Moda in Palermo

July 12, 2017

Tags: palermo, dolce, gabbana, moda, fashion, models, fountain, runway, city, sicily, italy

From Vogue magazine:
The arrival of a sleekly suited and enigmatic-looking man flanked by three watchful, headset-wearing bodyguards whose hands hovered above the meaningful bulges beneath their jackets did not, at first, seem that remarkable.

After all, around 430 clients, many of them new, travelled from across the world to the Sicilian capital of Palermo to experience the 126-look swoon that was Dolce & Gabbana’s latest Alta Moda show last night. And at Alta Moda, personal security detachments are ten a penny: The wealth that enables these super shoppers to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes considerably more, buying into this couture-but-beyond iteration of idealized Italian-ness comes with its own burdens.

Yet this new face was a man without a woman at a womenswear show who spent a great deal of time shaking hands with people he didn’t know. It seemed strange. When he shook my hand all became clear: This was no less that Rosario Crocetta, the President of Sicily, a son-of-a-seamstress communist anti-corruption campaigner who has been the target of at least three Mafia assassination plots. Wow. So why was he here? The president said: “As far as I am concerned Dolce and Gabbana are the best interpreters in Sicilian style. It is in their blood, and they do a lot for Sicily.”

Here is their high-fashion jewelry show at Palazzo Gangi, Palermo.

(more…)

Fishers of Men: Watch this movie about MOAS saving migrants at sea

July 9, 2017

Tags: immigrants, drowning, sicily, africa, trouble, border, europe, death, immigration, flow, people, africans, rescue, drowning, MOAS, documentary

Click on the caption to watch this excellent documentary about the work of MOAS.
From their website:
The creation of MOAS was one family’s reaction to the European migration crisis that they saw unfolding in the waters of the Mediterranean. Fishers of Men is a documentary film that follows the Catrambones as they embark on the MOAS journey and gives an inside view into the work of the NGO throughout their time at sea.

The documentary uses footage from media outlets and embedded video journalists to map the history of the charity and give a raw, unfiltered view of what maritime search and rescue operations really look like. Filmed across several years footage shows MOAS responding to the developing crisis in the Central Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. The film outlines the various aspects of the rescues as told by the search and rescue crews, tells the stories of those they rescue and gives an insight into the challenges faced by the Catrambones as they fight to keep the charity alive.

A deal for il Festino: Santa Rosalia's Feast from On High

July 8, 2017

Tags: festino, palermo, palazzo asmundo, feat, santa rosalia, patron, saint, procession, festivities, terra da mare, tourism, culture, aperitif, cena, supper, entertainment, procession, religious, food, wine, drink, revel, spectacle, important


Where: Palazzo Asmundo, Via Pietro Novelli, 3 (corner of Corso Vittorio Emanuele), Palermo
When: Friday 14 July 2017 starting at 7 p.m.
Cost: 50 euro
Info in Italy: 329-876-5958 or 320- 767-2134
Reservations required via internet form

› evento facebook: www.facebook.com/events/135957133635845

Anyone who will be in Palermo on this date should reserve their spot right now! If I were there, I would
For the 393rd five-day Feast of Santa Rosalia, the city's protectress, Palazzo Asmundo, a palace-museum directly across Via Vittorio Emanuele from the Norman Cathedral, will organize a palermitano supper and drinks with a magnificent overhead view of the incomparable spectacle on the Cathedral grounds.
Click on the caption to reserve a spot and to see photos of the palace interior, the buffet table laden with Sicilian specialties, and the privileged view from Palazzo Asmundo's balconies. Welcoming guests will be the members of the Terradamare ( land from Sea) cooperative, a grass-roots non profit that seeks to show cruise passengers the treasures of inner Palermo. (more…)

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