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.

Il capo market in the morning

August 21, 2016

Tags: palermo, market, capo, street, produce, red, people, custom, tradition, fresh, local, food

Il Capo street market, Palermo, 11 a.m. Photo: Rosa Maria Zito
One of Palermo's historic street markets.

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

Ex votos

April 1, 2015

Tags: ex voto, palermo, sicily, silver, santa rosalia, grotto, monte san pellegrini, shrine, religious, tradition

It is a tradition all over southern Italy to promise a thing of value to a saint in exchange for a "grazia ricevuta", a favor received, often a cure. Those who could afford it often bought silver miniature bas relief replicas of the body part which received the grace. They pin them to the (more…)

1944 Sunday dinner under the grape arbor

March 25, 2015

Tags: sicilian, italian-american, sunday, dinner, grape arbor, family, fun, carlstadt, new jersey, nana, papa, grandparents, tradition, outdoor, alfresco, together, famiglia

I remember these Sundays as something fun. The food and the fun on the lawn would go on into evening when I would catch fireflies and put them in a jar with holes punched in the cap for air. We little kids had a tin tub for a pool and a garden hose draped (more…)

culture clash

June 2, 2014

Tags: palermo, capo, market, street immigrant, woman, girl, color, dresses, traditional garb, sicily, sicilia, cultural, melting pot, culture, tradition, modern, traditional, clash

Immigrant woman and child in the Capo market street
The most colorful clothing can always be found in Il Capo market, whether on display or worn by the denizens.

Cuticchio's Puppet Theater

May 29, 2014

Tags: puppet, theater, cuticchio, figli d'arte, tradition, palermo, sicily art, marionettes

http://www.figlidartecuticchio.com/
Some of the best entertainment in the city right in the heart of it, near the Teatro Massimo in Via Bara all'Olivella. Enacting the stories of the paladins of Charlemagne.

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