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

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.

remembering the tonnara of favignana

October 6, 2016

Tags: tonnara, mattanza, favignana, tradition, anima

I am on the island of Favignana and I see many changes. I am nostalgic for the island in the days of the tonnara. Click on the caption to see a slide show of those days.

Rais Gioacchino Cataldo guest appearance on cooking show

March 7, 2016

Tags: rais, Gioacchino Cataldo, favignana, rais, tonnara, tuna, sperm, delicacy, cooking, cuisine, sicilian, sicily, culture, ancient, fisherman

Thanks to a heads-up from fellow Sicily lover Karen LaRosa of LaRosaWorks.com:

Gioacchino Cataldo, Rais della tonnara di #Favignana

Gioacchino Cataldo, Rais della tonnara di #Favignanaporta la tradizione dei prodotti di tonnara a MasterChef Italia 5#egadi #isoleegadi #egadiislands #visitegadiGioacchino Cataldo l'ultimo Rais

Posted by Visit Egadi on Friday, February 19, 2016

A bloodless mattanza for tourists

February 29, 2016

Tags: favignana, tonnara, mattanza, tuna, tourist, fake, sham, money, tourism, tuna, giant bluefin tuna

I read in La Repubblica that the tonnara is coming back to Favignana, but just to draw tourists, and the men will not lift the tuna in teams of eight with lances of varying lengths as they used to. To know what a tonnara used to be like, please read my first book, Mattanza. (more…)

SHort Break: Favignana Photos

October 28, 2015

Tags: favignana, egadi, isole, island, tonnara, fishermen, beach, fun, blue, sea, sky, tuna, archeology, Clemente Ventrone, Cristina Torre, Theresa Maggio, tonnaroti, tradition, net, beauty, nature, sun, sea, Mediterranean, fun, world unto itself



Circa early- to mid-1990s. Here's the video link in case the embed code does not work:
http://vp.telvue.com/preview?id=T01304&video=61535

Scopello, yesterday

February 22, 2015

Tags: scopello, blue, water, mediterranean, sea, sicily, sicilia, tonnara, scogli

Nice to think of these places during a Vermont winter. There used to be a tonnara here. The water is deep and cold because the seafloor drops off steeply just a few yards from shore.

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…)

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