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

Last Night in Palermo: Chicken on a Chain

April 30, 2014

Tags: arancina, palermo, bomba, fried, Danza delle Ombre, homeless, hot meal, food, delivery, rice balls, chicken on a chain

Chicken on a chain, photo by Irene Campagna
I went out on the Danza delle Ombre meals- on-wheels run for the homeless with Chiara and Irene Campagna this evening, for the last time.
You see the strangest things. Drunken Europunks sleeping on the cold hard sidewalk where they urinate, surrounded by a pack of large mongrel dogs, one of which just had seven puppies. Across the street was this forlorn, lonely roosting hen on a leash, tied to a garbage can, waiting for her homeless master to get back from whatever it was he was doing. Different kind of pet.
When we ran out of food to deliver, the sisters, who volunteer to deliver food every week, asked me what food I liked. Pizza, crostini, cannolicchi. Then they talked about their favorite arancine, which are fried rice balls containing, traditionally, either butter (more…)

Last Day in Palermo

April 30, 2014

Tags: palermo, Mondello, sferracavallo, grotta perciata, Pietra Tara, bronza age, village, megalithic, Monte Gallo, Capo gallo, garden, hisotic, scaglia, francesca Mercadante, Pippo LoCascio, patrimony, preserve, nature preserve, marine reserve, guardians, angels, beauty, history

Piergiorgio Leone at the Grotta Perciata, Mondello
And I spent the morning in Mondello and Sferracavallo, by the sea. In Sferracavallo to see a complete, intact, protohistoric Bronze Age megalithic village, and in Mondello on the slopes of Monte Gallo to visit a panoramic, historic garden planted in the early 1900's, with archeological treasures from 10,000 years ago. (more…)

Fra Biagio and the farms

April 27, 2014

Tags: farms, homeless, nuns, brothers, sisters, scopello, castellammare del Golfo, palermo, trapani, nature, growth, rebuild, fruit, fava, peas, olives, Mass, life, rebirth, charity, hope, speranza, carita, mission

Fra Biagio Conte
Fra Biagio Conte, a layman, a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis, houses and feeds more than a thousand people in his four urban shelters and communities in Palermo. His guests are Sicilians, Italians, Europeans, Asians, and Africans, men, women and children. Recently his prayers have been answered. He always wanted to (more…)

fantastic facade in Via Celso, Palermo

April 27, 2014

Tags: facade, palermo, sicily, via celso, cortile sant'agata, imagination, decoration do it yourself


Loved this house. Found it in 2012 and went back this week to see it again. Behind the cathedral. Would love to meet the artist.

Liberation Day/ Cupola SS. Salvatore

April 25, 2014

Tags: national holiday, liberation day, tourist, SS. Salvatore, tower, cupola, visit, panorama


Today is a national holiday celebrating the moment the Americans liberated italy from the Nazis and fascists in World War II. The street markets are closed, no one is answering my phone calls so I went out and became a tourist. I paid four euros to enter the church of the Most Holy Savior ( (more…)

Meals on Wheels for the Homeless

April 24, 2014

Tags: meals, wheels, homeless, palermo, marina scardavi, mohammed, kindness, care, body, soul


Dr. Marina Scardavi founded a non-profit called Shadow Dance to aid the homeless in body and soul. She got to know Palermo's homeless people through her homeless friend, Mohammed, an Iranian immigrant who earned a degree in architecture at the University of Palermo, but who prefers to be a vagabond who cares for other street people. (more…)

Two Cute Girls

April 24, 2014

Tags: girls, palermo, cute

These two girls were waiting for the Dead Christ and Sorrowful Madonna to come out of the church on Good Friday. I thought they were extremely cute. They were not posing for me, but showing solidarity in the face of another, older girl, who was jealous of something they had, and who claimed, loudly and repeatedly, to have TEN of same.

Cops "afraid"

April 23, 2014

Tags: Santa Margherita Belice, agrigneto, sicily, carabinieri, robbery, thief, refusal to investigate, gold, jewelry, gone, unfair, incredible

Cactus at my cousin's place
Just got back from four days away in Santa Margherita Belice where I stayed at my cousin's place. She said a few years ago their home was robbed, twice.
"All the gold," she said, all the gold items her children had been given at birth, at baptism, at graduations, the bracelet her husband gave her (more…)

Procession of the Dead Christ and Sorrowful Madonna

April 19, 2014

Tags: Christ, passion, madonna, sorrowful, dolorosa, dead, Good Friday, Palermo, chiesa S. Maria La Nuova, Piazza San Giacomo La Marina



The Sicilians have a disconcerting custom of clapping for people in coffins. People they like. (more…)

Occupy Palermo: Homeless families organize

April 17, 2014

Tags: homeless, families, organize, assemblea, occupy, palermo

Our Housing Plan: OCCUPY EVERYTHING
OUR HOUSING PLAN: OCCUPY EVERYTHING!
This was a manifesto I found plastered to the front of the train station this morning, a place where the homeless, at least many of them, the single men, gather to accept food donations at night and sleep wrapped in blankets under the portico where they can stay out (more…)

Occupy

April 17, 2014

Tags: occupy, palermo, convent, homeless, families, delle vergini, cloister, squatters, home, children, eviction, sfratto

Antonella, her friend Cetty, and Cetty's newborn daughter, Nicole, in the Convento delle Vergini which they occupied.
From our kitchen balcony I can see the lights are on in the cloistered convent across Piazza Venezia. Since December 2013, the convent, empty for two years after the last three aged nuns living there were transfered, has been occupied by palermitan homeless families. I visited them two days ago. Ten families, 35 people, of whom 22 are children. (more…)

Home for Homeless Women

April 14, 2014

Tags: accoglienza femminile, fra biagio conte, suor mattia, homeless, women, mensa, dining room, via garibaldi, palermo, kindness, heart, sicily, sicilia, care, dignity

A corner of the 100-seat dining room of the Accoglienza Femminile of Fra Biagio Conte's Missione Pace e Speranza
Last week I visited the Women's Home, one of three centers comprising Brother Biagio Conte's Mission of Peace and Hope. It houses roughly a hundred homeless women, palermitans and immigrants, single women, women with young children and women with infants. It is housed inside the former convent of Saint Catherine of Sienna in Via (more…)

Ecce Homo

April 13, 2014

Tags: Ecce Homo, Behold the Man, Ecco L'Uomo

Ecce Homo by M. Guttilla, clay and cloth sculpture.
In Palermo I belong to a cultural non-profit called La Palermo Dei Misteri, or Palermo of Mysteries. A few times a month on Sunday mornings, we have a guided tour on some theme planned and executed by founder Professor Carlo Di Franco, an anthropologist and connoisseur of his city. This morning, Palm Sunday before the Passion (more…)

Mohammed makes my bouquet

April 12, 2014

Tags: vagabond, homeless, senza tetto, Mohammed, Mo, foro italico, seashore, camper, flowers, beach, wildflowers, bouquet, kindness, beauty, palermo, sicily, italy



I spent yesterday afternoon with Mohammed, a homeless Iranian architect, a vagabond by nature, a kind man who helps all the other homeless people less fortunate than he. He lives with three or four dogs, and visiting pigeons, cats, seagulls, lizards and human friends, in a camper by the sea, at the Foro Italico, (more…)

Palazzo Montevago Gravina di Ramacca

April 7, 2014

Tags: inventor, Marcello Lampone, Bottega Lampone, Palazzo Montevago Gravina di Ramacca



The Ferrara family owns most of this palace. They made their money with a local pasta factory, and when they sold it, they bought this palace, and spent six years refurbishing it, including the frescoes on the ceiling. The largest Murano chandelier came out of a Taormina hotel. Marcello Lampone eyed it and said (more…)

Marcello Lampone and part of the clock without hands

April 7, 2014

Tags: clock, no hands, marcello lampone, palermo, inventor, sicily, via Maqueda, Via del Bosco

This is just the bottom decorative part of a 6-foot-tall faceless clock he is making to install in the Provincial office building across the street, the palace where he was born.
Marcello Lampone has invented an electro-mechanical (non-digital) watch and/or clock with no minute- hand nor hour- hand. I cannot imagine how you can tell the time from it. He won't let me see it , or explain it, until it is patented. He is hoping for a sponsor to help him pay for the (more…)

Marcello Lampone and fly eye

April 7, 2014

Tags: fly eye, marcello lampone, inventor, palermo, sicily, Via Maqueda, Via del Bosco

Fly eyes, having fun.
I can only run one photo per blog post, so I am making lots of blog posts about this guy. He made my day.

Inventor and Joyful Person Marcello Lampone

April 7, 2014

Tags: inventor, Marcello Lampone, Bottega Lampone, Palazzo Montevago Gravina di Ramacca

Marcello Lampone and magnifying lens
I met this wonderful inventor today. We spent three hours in his laboratory workshop and surroundings and the time flew by for both of us. I can't wait to write about him. His enthusiasm and will to create is so contagious. He sleeps in his hoarder-like shop and lives next door to billionaires.

Tonnara Florio at Palermo

April 6, 2014

Tags: tonnara, florio, palermo, arenella, palermo dei misteri, Professor carlo di franco, seaside, tuna, tannin, sumac, mirto, leather, industry, sicily, sicilians, italy, windy



Guided visit today to the ex- Florio tonnara in Arenella, Palermo, conducted by the president of the non-profit association, La Palermo Dei Misteri, anthropologist and professor Carlo Di Franco, a man who can make the stones talk.
The tonnara had been there for three centuries when the Florio family ( the Sicilian Rockefellers, originally from (more…)

La Martorana, Arab-Norman church. Pix by AmoPalermo

April 3, 2014

Tags: Martorana, church, mosaics, gold, Byzantine, arab- norman, palermo, sicily, italy

Martorana lapis and gold stars ceiling
http://www.amopalermo.com/2013/01/la-martorana-restaurata-alcune-immagini.html

Link to wonderful photos of the interior of my favorite church in downtown Palermo, la Martorana, a Norman-Arab beauty with gold and lapis mosaics by Byzantine masters and inscriptions in Arabic on column capitals. Thanks to AmoPalermo blog for these photos. The church was most recently restored in November 2012.

I liked this poster

April 2, 2014

Tags: poster, manifesto, vucciria, palermo

Palermo is plastered with posters. I liked this one especially.
I liked the look of this musician in the poster, one Timo Maas. It reminded me of my great brother-in-law in some ways.

le Vignicelle Former asylum

April 1, 2014

Tags: asylum, jesuits, manicomio, palermo, first



Jesuit priests built a fine monastery and had use of two qanats, underground water supplies built in the persian style, to water their fields and grapevines, and they made fine wine. With the unifiction of italy, in 1861, all religious property became state property, and the state decided to use this convent and surrounding grounds (more…)

Incredible public school in former cloisetered convent

April 1, 2014

Tags: educandato statale maria adelaide, corso calatafimi, palermo apre le porte, la scuola adotta la citta`


Two events converged last weekend. It was one of those weekends when palermo opens the doors to certain forgotten or under-appreciated monuments, schools, crypts, asylums, prisons, castles, cemeteries, or museums and there is no entrance fee. The other thing that happened last weekend was " The schools adopt the city," a program started in current (more…)

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