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.






Tags

Out of Palermo

Palermo unanimously voted Italian Culture Capital for 2018

January 31, 2017

Tags: palermo, culture, capital, italy, 2018, sicily, italy

Palermo will be Italy's culture capital for the year 2018.

More refugees rescued yesterday by ship Aquarius

January 30, 2017

Tags: immigrants, boats, mediterranean, rescue, ships, fear, drowning, trouble, africa, sicily, Italy.

The ship Aquarius, operated by the humanitarian italo-franco-german NGO SOS Mediterranee, saved 125 refugees aboard a rubber raft yesterday 15 miles from the Libyan coast west of Tripoli. SOS Mediterranee operates in partnership with Doctors Without Borders. The vessel in trouble was first noted by the merchant ship Deep Vision around 7:30 a.m.: its crew kept (more…)

Rare visit to the cave graffiti of Addaura in Palermo

January 27, 2017

Tags: addaura, cave, grafitti, prehistoric, humans, dancing, mystical, ancient, art, guided visit

The caption takes you to a cell-phone video of an expert, Dr Vassallo of the superintendency of art and culture, leading a group called Let's Save Addaura on a rare visit to the graffiti of Addaura. The site has been closed for years, but I saw it in person in July 1986, the year I (more…)

African refugee drowns in Venice while people film, laugh

January 26, 2017

Tags: refugee, drown, venice, canal, Italy, no pity, racism, racist remarks, tourists, cameras

No one jumped in to save him. An investigation is on. Click on the caption to read the story in the Independent.

Man creates map of Palermo's 3,000+ monuments

January 24, 2017

Tags: map, monuments, palermo, sicily, city, historic, important

An unknown person, presumably of Palermo, single-handedly created this detailed map of Palermo's 3,000+ monuments.

January 20, 2017

Tags: Vermont, brave, little, state

Calvin Coolidge was a Vermonter.

Still snowing in Sicily; Troina paralyzed

January 18, 2017

Tags: snow, sicily, troina, meter, paralysis, trouble

The mountain town of Troina in Enna Province is paralyzed by more than three feet of snow. More than 200 head of livestock have died. This is the city that Ruggero used as his base during his 36-year conquest of Sicily from the Arabs. The streets are so steep that they instituted a free bus (more…)

ANSA: new shipwreck off Libya, many bodies found

January 14, 2017

Tags: immigrants, boats, mediterranean, rescue, ships, fear, drowning, trouble, africa, sicily, Italy.

A large wooden boat loaded with migrants shipwrecked about thirty miles north of the Libyan coast. Eight cadavers and four survivors were collected. They said there had been 107 on board. Frontex ( European Union border police ) have dispatched an airplane and a rescue helicopter to the disaster scene, and some merchant ships are headed there to offer help, according to ANSA.

Migrants: some saved, some died of cold

January 14, 2017

Tags: immigrants, boats, mediterranean, rescue, ships, fear, drowning, trouble, africa, sicily, Italy.

Yesterday three immigrants died off the coast of Lampedusa and 550 were saved in various rescue operations. One of the survivors was found hiding from the cold under two cadavers on a trafficker's boat. Three survivors, including one pregnant woman, were in grave condition.


R.I.P. Vincenzo Sercia, Favignana tonnaroto

January 12, 2017

Tags: favignana, tonnara, sicily, fisherman, tonnaroto, prima voce, soloist, ciurma, singer, tradition, passing, losing, disappearing, gone

Last night I learned that Vincenzo Sercia had died. I wrote about him in Mattanza. He was the former Prima Voce, the soloist, of the ciurma, the team of 100, then 80, tuna fisherman working under their supreme commander, the rais. He was already retired when I knew him in the early 1990s. I would follow him with a tape recorder begging him to sing the words of the cialome, the traditional, mystical work songs of the Favignana tonnara, but he always slipped through my fingers. These were not songs to be sung on land. It was taboo.
But one spring day in 1993, when documentary filmmaker Luciano Bovina was gathering material for a film about the tonnara, I learned that Vincenzo Sercia and a portion of the current ciurma would sing the cialome near Punta Lunga, in a rocky seaside cove for Luciano's benefit. I was invited, too, and in the pink dusk I recorded Vincenzo Sercia singing the songs. The most haunting is Ai-a-mola.

Still snowing in Sicily

January 10, 2017

Tags: sicily, snow, gangi, madonie, drone, video, beauty, happy, gorgeous

Sicily got hit with up to three feet of snow in the mountain towns. Today in La Repubblica I found this video by a video artist in Gangi in the Madonie Mountains who sent his camera up on a drone to film the snow-covered red rooftops. What a wonderful job he did. It is so gorgeous I sent him a fan letter on Twitter. Video by Ivan Mocciaro of Gangi. Click on the caption to see the short video. PLEASE watch it full screen.

Snow day in Sicily

January 8, 2017

Tags: snow, sicily, unusual

Sicily was hit with an unusual snowstorm that closed schools especially in the steep mountain towns. Because it rarely snows there, communities are not equipped with snowplows or snow tires and they just have to wait for it to melt. Some mayors told their towns to shelter in place, stay indoors and called in (more…)

Rai 1 channel special on Palermo

January 7, 2017

Tags: palermo, monuments, beauty, history, culture, architecture, art, historic center, video, rai 1

A beautiful video on the core beauties of Palermo. First broadcast 31 December 2016, You can enjoy the images even if you do not understand Italian. Click on the caption to see the show.

114 african migrants saved at sea

January 3, 2017

Tags: immigrants, boats, mediterranean, rescue, ships, fear, drowning, trouble, africa, sicily, Italy.

114 people from Senegal, Guinea, Uganda, Mali and the Ivory Coast were saved by the crew of the NGO ship Aquarius, staffed by doctors without borders, during the night between 1 and 2 January 2017. They were 108 males and six females. 22 of them were minors, and 16 of those were unaccompanied minors, including three children, one under four years old, according to La Repubblica.

Quick Links