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.

Your Comments

You can leave a comment here, or write to me via my contact page.


Click and type in a question or comment

P.S. To Lisa, No I am home in Vermont. THis is a wonderful time to be in Sicily though.

To Lisa S.P., yes I would love to see your aunt's photos of the mattanza. Was she from Favignana? Please leave a link or send me an e mail via my contact page. Thanks for writing!

Ciao Theresa,, I loved your book and share that joy and longing for connection to my Siciliana story. Are you a Sicilia now? I would love to meet you. We'll be in the Palermo/ Porticello area next week March 23.
Thank you for that wonderful book and for sharing your story. My 92-yr-old aunt loves La Mattanza because she witnessed this iwhile visiting our family's village in the '50s. You may enjoy her B&W photos from then. Ciao! Lisa SP

Write No Spam! Hey ah toh en oh eh no eh AH!

Sometimes town halls burned down and their records were lost. You could try the church for baptismal records. There is only one church in town. Or the regional archives in Palermo, which may have copies of Locati's vital statistics records. Have you tried the geneology site of the Mormon Church? TMM

Hi, Theresa. Several years ago I contacted you regarding Locati and my family (Profita) an Giocomarra. You were kind enough to offer your knowledge of the town and since then I met much of my family in Palermo . For a year or so I've been tracing my genealogy from Bompietro records. However, I've hit a wall and can't find any records prior to the mid 1800s via the Family Search site. Any ideas?



The Stone Bourdoir is such a gift, thank you for this and your website. Both are so rich and inspiring.
Ron Morreale

Ron Morreale-- Thanks for the kind words. TMM


Thank You Theresa; A sad fact after so many many years. Well good memories meeting Rais Gioacchino and Benito Ventrone and other tonnaroto. Actual Rais Gioaccchino autographed your book Mattanza. Thank You ! Bill Carroll

Hello, Bill Carroll. Right, there is no more tonnara at Favignana due to lack of tuna. But I just read that the town asked the authorities to give Favignana a blue fin catch limit just in case someone wants to take over. Fat chance, I say, because they have lost the talent and the hands and all the nets and equipment are gone. There is only the museum now. If you want to contact me personally, click on the contact tab. I am sure you will have a great trip. TMM

Hi Theresa; Have read and re read both your wonderful books, The Stone Boudoir and Mattanza as well as you early stories in the NYTimes Travel and Leisure sections back in the nineties. Just amazing writing.After a very cold and snowy New England winter, begining to plan a fall trip to return to Sicily.

My wife and I have been to Sicily many times since the late sixties. Her family, the Vinciquerra's are from Palma de Montichaira. We have not been to Favignana since 2002. We have heard that the Mattanza no longer occurs? Is that true and if so, why? Many thanks Bill Carroll March 10 2015




To Nina G. from TMM: LOVE the tablecloth and crumbs story! I had never heard that one. If I were near S. Margherita in September I would head to the beach called "I Fiori" in nearby Menfi, the town where the Margheritesi go for swimming. And I would hang out in Sciacca, which has a wide piazza that overlooks the sea. Old Gibellina and the Creta di Burri , which I describe in Stone Boudoir, is also quite close. Enjoy your trip. I know it is pry oneself away from the relatives' table. Ask them to join you on your travels! See some more of Sicily.

Forgot to sign--
Nina G.

P.S. Love your writing style!

Hello--
A friend sent me your book because she knows we are heading to Sicily at the end of Sepetmeber. I have been married 29 years to my husband, Corrado, who was born in Pozzallo and came over at age 13 to the states. My father's family roots are in Gesso and San Pier Niceto (near Messina). We will visit these places as well as Taormina and everything in between. I just started your book yesterday and I must say that, not 30 pages in, I find the need to wander west and check out the corner of the world that you describe. I spent an extended summer in Toscana after college back in 1982 but, as you know, it is worlds away from Sicily! I've visited Sicily before but only for a day or two in Pozzallo each time, and the rest on a guided tour. I am excited that we will have the freedom of a vehicle and several days at our disposal to explore. I'm sure, however, that dedicated time to the relatives in Pozzallo will have first billing. If you only had a limited amount of time in the general area of Santa Margherita, where would you spend it? I'm grateful my friend sent me your book - I will pass it along to all my fellow travelers so they, too, will be "prepared" for the trip.

P.S. So far the laundry hanging on the line chapter best exemplifies the types of stories I am used to from my in-laws. I was told early on never to shake out the crumbs from a tablecloth after dark - to wait until morning - because it was "bad luck" AND I might be accused of signaling to a lover! I couldn't believe it when I read your words. Gobsmacked!

@​Charles Carey: Excellent! Have fun again.

Dear Ms. Maggio,
My wife and I have made several trips to Sicily. Prior to one of our trips I read "The Stone Boudoir" and thoroughly enjoyed it. Today, May 28, 2014, I began rereading the book and on the first page you mentioned Locati which I promptly Google and found that it was located about 12 miles from Villa Rosa, the town from which my grandparents came. Then I was directed to a YouTube video and to my surprise it provided me with the link to your website.
Last year my wife and I spent 2 1/​2 weeks in Umbria and Emilia Romagna. Since we had spent quite a bit of time in Sicily thought that change might be interesting, and I'm currently planning another trip to Italy at the end of September.I thought that we would go to Tuscany and Umbria. However, Sicily seems to beckon.
Growing up my grandparents spoke Sicilian, I was never interested in Sicily. My grandfather would tell me lemons were as big as softballs and tell me that Sicily was beautiful. I would tell him that, if Sicily was so great, why doesn't he go back. (I was a real smart ass).He was right and he would probably be very surprised at how much I am drawn to Sicily. Growing up my grandparents spoke Sicilian to me and I replied in English. I don't really understand much Sicilian today, just a bit.
At any rate, purpose of this post is to tell you how much I enjoyed your book and I think that we will go to Sicily and this time I won't forget your book. BTW ,we visited many of the places that you mentioned in your book.

Charles Carey


GRC: thanks for being in touch again. TMM

I read your book again after years and I loved it again the second time around. As a son of a tonnaroto from Favignana and growing up around those men I cant help but feel a close connection to your story....I saw Clemente 4 years ago and all the others like Giose,Gianni Matto' and Silvano...and some things just never change....sorry to hear that Benito passed away.....
I love the experience you had there and look forward to your next book. Con moto rispetto, GianRiccardo Cerro.

To the commenter just below-- thanks for your kind words. You give me courage to continue. Yes, Natalie had a chance to read Stone Boudoir for sure. I was lucky to have met her in Mondello, where we became friends. TMM.

I'm reading your delightful book "The Stone Boudoir" and I want to thank you for writing it. It captures the soul of the Sicilian people I came to know and love over the 15 years I lived there. Your understanding of the charming quirkiness of the people, their underlying decency and humanity provide an engaging insight into the people and culture that are often maligned and usually misunderstood. I am cracking up at the funny vignettes and side commentary that is just so on the money that I can imagine being in the room when what you describe is taking place. I had a feeling that his book would be special when I read the acknowledgements and saw my dear friend Natalie Oana Russo's name in the first sentence--she was a lovely and kind person. I don't know if she read it before she died, but I'm sure that it would have made her smile the way it makes me smile--because you got it right.

Buon giornu, Teresa! I am 38 & learning Italian & picking up some Sicilianu from my maternal Sicilian grandfather, 82. His parents were both from Cammarata Sicilia, immigrated 1906, both last name Maggio, but not related. I do ancestry research as a hobby & my Magggio lineage runs deep, as far back as 1700's & probably much farther! I am half Italian, over the decades, the language & culture have been declining sadly. Spanish seems to be taking over. My grandfather never taught his children like many in the 1900's in America, so I never learned from my mother. As I learn, I teach my 6 year old son, & now I can have basic conversations with my grandfather in Italian/​Sicilian. Cool! I wish there were more ways to learn the language without paying such prezzi alti(high prices)! I look forward to more TV shows, videos online, free classes, etc. We must have children's cartoons so kids can get excited! I will buy your book for my son's mamma who is 25% Italiana. She LOVES to READ!!! I have been planning a trip to Sicilia for a few years now, but don't have the money yet. When I do, myself & a friend will go, he's 3/​4 Italian. I have family in Cammarata Sicily & talk to them on Skype & Facebook.



To Paul Todaro from Theresa Maggio/​ 25 Nov. 2013: Yes, I did a search and there is at least one family named Santangelo in Santa Margherita, but there were 168 in your Grandfather Todaro's town of Sciacca, the most in the province of Agrigento. You should go to the SMB town hall and tell them what you told me and see if any Santangelos appear. Worth the trip for the scenery, and the town hall is now in the Leopard's palace. Let me know how it goes.

Hi Theresa: I just finished your amazing book: "The Stone Boudoir." I'm another one of those Sicilian-Americans sort of looking for their "roots." My paternal grandmother is actually from Santa Margherita de Belice! Her name was Angela Santangelo. She emigrated to New York, along with 3 brothers and 2 sisters where she met my grandfather, Frank Todaro, who was from Sciacca. I would love to visit the villages you so brilliantly described with my wife and two adult daughters one day. There must still be Santangelos in Santa Margherita, I would think? Any suggestions? Thank you so much for your wonderful book. Sincerely, Paul Todaro



Hi Theresa, I've just finished reading La Mattanza, either infront of Due Colonne, on the little beach at Punta Lunga or completely alone on the Cala Rotonda with Marettimo on the horizon. My boyfriend is doing his Geology PhD research on the tufa,so he has been here a few times and its my second. I feel you have treated the island with great respect for immortalising a tradition which can no longer take place, although I do feel slightly embarrassed when I see Clemente drive by... Thank you! Kim

Years ago I could have told you his name. He showed me his ID card once and I wrote his name in my notebook, but that notebook is in storage right now. Glad you went to Polizzi and met him.

OMG, the picture of the gentleman who cannot speak but courts foreign women - we met him! He was so awesome. Yes, he did court us but in a gentle and friendly way. My husband was with us the whole time and he was just as friendly to him. What a wonderful surprise to see his picture. I wish I knew his name. Do you know?

Ciao Theresa, long time not write to you , but I felt just to say hello. I reading your book The Stone Boudoir where ever I go , love to read it feel kind I 'm in it specially the part when you were in Linguaglossa.
Your should come to Australia see us!!
Anyway wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2013.
Con Lo Giudice

Glad you liked it.

I just finished the Stone Boudoir. I found it to be a great account of the numerous villages of Sicily. I have never been to that region, so it was educating as well as entertaining.

HI tego, It's me, Laura, from Alaska. I have a friend who is thinking of heading to Italy for a few months and am sending her a link to your website! Hope things are good for you in Vermont.................I'll be there first week of August for a few days.
Laura

Love the new website. I am linking to a friend who wants to spend two months in Italy and/​or Sicily

Ciao, Michele,
I do not speak Sicilian but i can understand it, especially the dialects of palermo and favignana, since I have spent the most time there. How I learned Italian: Number One, I fell for a Sicilian fisherman and had to learn to communicate with him while I was in New Mexico, where I worked at Los Alamos National Lab. i knew the physics department often had brilliant Italian physicists visiting and asked them to alert me when one came to the lab. That is how I met a married couple of physicists from Salerno who helped me practice. I went to the Los Alamos High School language department and bought an Italian textbook and started teaching myself. When I got to Mondello, Piero paid for my Italian lessons in a dopo-scuola in Partanna-Mondello. I wrote about this in Stone Boudoir. Hope this inspires you. best, Theresa

How did you learn Italian? Do you also speak Sicilian? SB un libro meraviglioso. Uno studente della lingua italiana, Michele

My grandparents came from Tortoricci, Sicily. Grandpa died when I was two, 1960, grandma when I was 17. Our world fell apart when she died. They had 11 children, I am the first grandson with the surname. I never understood why they wanted their children "Americanized". During my traveling days, 1986-2001, I never made it to Sicily. Moving back to America in 2001 I wanted desperately to take my father to Sicily. He wouldn't go without my mother, an Englishwoman, and she didn't want to go. He died six months ago. Since then i have been reading all the books on Sicily I can get a hold of. Yours is the best I've read. I have been attracted to building with stone my whole life without knowing why. My wife and I built stone walls around our house, stone fire pits, stone and cement. I must get to Sicily someday. Thank you for becoming a writer and sharing your world.

Ciao, Lupo. Ho cercato di rispondere ma il mio e mail torna sempre in dietro, non so perche`. felice di sentirti. Theresa.

Hi, Charlotte-- Thanks for visiting my site. I really enjoyed meeting you and showing your Italian class my videos of life and people in Sicilian towns and cities. Heritage Village is a great place to play.
Theresa

Theresa, your website is beautiful! Thank you so much for coming to the Heritage Village Italian class today. I look forward to learning more about your explorations and adventures in Sicily very soon. Charlotte Shapiro

I just found your response. Thanks for wring back. i look forward to your new book.

Thanks for writing, Mary Rose. Santa Ninfa is not far from Santa Margherita Belice, where my paternal grandparents came from. I have never been to Floridia. It is always great to hear from a reader. I AM working on a third book about Sicily.

I LOVED BOTH OF YOUR BOOKS. I AM SO SAD TO HEAR THAT THE FISHING HAS DIED OUT. I AM ALSO SECOND GENERATION SICILIAN. MY MOTHER'S FAMILY WAS FROM SANTA NINFA AND MY FATHER'S FROM FLORIDIA NEAR SIRAGUSA. I WAS IN SICILY IN 1978. WE STAYED WITH FRIENDS OF MY AUNT'S IN FLORIDIA AND NEEIGHBORING TOWNS.

I LOVED LOOKING AT YOUR BLOG. I HOPE YOU WILL WRITE ANOTHER BOOK.

THANK-YOU

MARY-ROSE ALASSO FITZGERALD

I enjoyed so much "The Stone Boudoir" and shall reread it again very soon.
Until your next piece of writing.......
Deirdre Cangialosi ( Geneva )

Theresa, your are a brilliant writer. Stone Boudoir both nourishes and eats at my soul. I will visit Sicily this September. "Stone" will be my guide and compass. I must look for the small things, the 'secrets', the gestures, the numerous signs of life and love that you expose. Found "Mattanza" and it arrived today. Yipee, can't wait to wade in it. Bruce from southern NM.







Il sordo-muto di Polizzi Generosa.
A gentleman in Polizzi who cannot speak but who nonetheless courts foreign women who come to town.

Quick Links