From The Guardian:
Among the political figures who congratulated Donald Trump on his surprise election victory was the politician to whom the billionaire real estate mogul and reality television star has most often been compared: Silvio Berlusconi.
The rightwing former Italian prime minister and billionaire media mogul, who was dogged by claims that he (more…)
Sicilian judge Antonino Di Matteo is one of the most threatened - and protected - men in Italy. As the chief prosecutor in Italy's "trial of the century", he has more than 20 bodyguards, ensuring his safety around the clock. On trial are 10 men who stand accused of being part of a conspiracy between the mafia and the state. Five of the defendants are mafia bosses and five are members of the political establishment.
In a year every Palermo commuter spends 147 hours blocked in traffic, according to the TomTom Traffic Index and La Repubblica, which measures traffic flow in 295 cities in 38 countries for all of 2015. Palermo, where buses get stuck behind carriage horses, had the worst traffic snarls in Italy. Second worst traffic city in Italy is Rome. (more…)
3,000 companies, 12,000 properties and €2bn in bank deposits. Read all about it here in the Guardian in English. Now I have a better idea of the temptations that tantalized Judge Saguto, stripped of her duties and salary as Palermo's head minder of confiscated Mafia property. Click on the caption to read the Guardian's story.
If you have enough money to pay the traffickers, you can get a spot in the open air on the deck, and maybe even be allowed to wear a life jacket, which takes up precious, expensive room. Everybody else is relegated to the hold and diesel fumes -- locked in -- for the duration of the sea crossing. This usually means the hold is filled with women and children , who earn less and can pay less to the traffickers.
At least 40 African migrants died suffocated in the diesel fumes of the old fishing boat that traffickers used to take them to Sicily. 312 people were saved by the merchant marine ship, including women and children, according to a front page report in today's La Repubblica. Another 420 immigrant are expected to arive at the port of Augusta tomorrow. Some 2,300 African immigrants lost their lives at sea between Africa and Italy in 2015. (more…)
The most recent arrivals have been turned away and sent to Sardinia and Calabria because Sicilian immigrant "reception" centers, where immigrants are housed and fed while their fates are decided-- accepted as refugee or sent back to Africa -- are overcrowded and not up to the job of accepting or deferring waves of thousands of arrivals. (more…)
The first property Judge Giovanni Falcone confiscated from the mafia in 1980 will be given officially to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Italy today, although they have been camping and working here for years. The rual compound also contains a qanat and a sirocco room which I visited with Geologist Dr. Pietro Todaro. The (more…)
860 refugees reached land at Palermo, another 548 at Trapani. Many are already looking for a ticket to nortern Europe. Over the weekend 5,851 people were saved from the Mediterraneaean Sea. According to souces in Rome the number of immigrants landing since the beginning of the year are ten percent more than in the same time period (more…)
Since this morning 2,000 immigrants have been saved at sea by Italian naval vessels and the ship Moas Phoenix of the Mr. and Mrs Catrambone. (Catrambone is a wealthy Italian-American businessman based in Malta and his wife is from Calabria. The first time she saw a floating jacket in the Mediterranean from her yacht and (more…)
1,019 Syrians, Palestinians and Moroccans arrived at the port of Pozzallo, Sicily in the last 24 hours, according to La Repubblica. Doctors have found 300 cases of scabies, and five cases of measles. Four pregnant women were sent to the hospital and there was a boy with a traumatic injury to his neck.
The ship Peluso was (more…)
Abdel Fahim Taktak, a 92-year-old refugee from Syria survived eight days at sea and upon landing at Augusta, Sicily after rescue by Italian authorities was seen playing with his grandchildren. He was part of a group of 187 men, 38 women and 9 children who had taken off from the coast of Egypt and were rescued from their fishing (more…)
The oldest business sign in Palermo, a Liberty ( Art Nouveau) mosaic of the goddess Demeter, goddess of grain, which advertised the only recently defunct Panificio Morello, a bakery in the Capo street market, is beng removed from its site on the front of a derepit building and being taken to the Palazzo Aiutamicristo for (more…)
Some of the survivors of the raft that sank 80 miles off the coast of Libya, killing 400 by drowning, said that their traffickers had beaten several of their fellow travelers to death with clubs because they did not obey. One man was beaten to death at the farm where the refugees are stockpiled until setting (more…)
Mayor Orlando says Europe has washed its hands of the tragedy and abandoned Sicily and Italy to its own devices when it comes to handling the huge continuing wave of refugees.
Three rescued Somalis, picked up by Maltese mercantile ship, arrived at Palermo and were hospitalized for health problems. Altogether 91 Somalis arrived at Palermo's (more…)
After the crumbling of several buildings in the neglected Vucciria, the city has finally decided to spend some time and money fixing the historic market site up. It will take a year, with a firm that "works very fast", to pull up the limestone paving stones, work on the light and telephone cables and (more…)
From La Repubblica/Palermo edition of 22 March 2015.
A restaurant owner has given up and decided to move out of the Vucciria market area and night life hub of Palermo after a bonfire on the Eve of Saint Joseph's Feast (March 19) practically destroyed his business and put his customers and staff in danger. (more…)
Twenty-nine people died of exposure to the cold on a rescue from the sea. They died while being rushed to Lampedusa, the Sicilian island closest to Africa. They were rescued from some of the worst conditions at sea, waves twenty feet high.
Update: here is the story in the NYT:
Archeogeologist Dr. Francesca Mercadante and her husband, Dr. Pippo Locascio, of Partanna-Mondello, have dicovered an intact megalithic Bronze Age village within Palermo's northern city limits, on the littoral below the cliffs of Capo Gallo between the seaside villages of Sferracavallo and Mondello.
The Palermo city archives off Via Maqueda is an experience in itself. It was designed like the inside of a cargo ship. It was recently spruced up and the staff offer guided tours of the collections. Thanks to Facebook group Palermo in Bianco e Nero for this photo. This shot is taken from the (more…)
This used to be a second-floor French door with balcony overlooking the Capo market.
Much of Palermo's historic center, the largest in Europe, is walled up like this window in what used to be a lovely art deco building above the heads of the market merchants. Some such buildings house newly-arrived clandestine immigrants.
Near the end of the Capo street market in the quarter behind the Palermo cathedral is a narrow lane called Street of the Flying Chairs where once these elegant travel booths were made. The cabs were carried on long poles on men's shoulders and seemed to fly above the crowds. Men and women of (more…)
I ate my first persimmon in Palermo. You cut off the top and eat he flesh with a small spoon. So sweet, one does not talk while eating them. Friends will bring over a basket of them for dessert. They look like frosted tomatoes.
A multi-headed monster puppet representing the Cuticchio family of puppeteers
In the hundreds of episodes that make up one drama from the repertoire of the Siciilan puppet theater, there is one many-headed monster which appears only once onstage. This lifelike sculpture is a spoof on that monster, representing instead the now-deceased head of the Cuticchio family and his children, puppeteers all, growing from his head.
I found this nut and seed store while wandering the back streets of La Kalsa, the central Palermo neighborhood directly across the street from my palace rooms in Via Vittorio Emmanuele. I just liked the way it looked.
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…)
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…)
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.