Natura Morta

February 22, 2014

Here’s what I do with my free time: wander the village with a bag full of  fruit. When I see a good spot, I scan the area to make sure I’m alone, pose the persimmon, and click the shutter fast — before neighborhood busybodies spot the americana doing yet another weird thing. You gotta be quick.

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Pear on Sicilian Wall, copyright Jann Huizenga

Persimmons on Sicilian Walls, Copyright Jann Huizenga

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Ti Voglio Bene

February 14, 2014

Will you be my Valentine?

Couple kissing in Venice, copyright Jann Huizenga

Tanti baci a tutti xxxxxxxxxxxx.

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The Pride of a Sicilian Mamma

February 10, 2014

Another on-the-street encounter in Sicily:

Young Sicilian Woman with Pink Glasses, copyright Jann Huizenga

Sicilian mother and child; copyright Jann Huizenga

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That Weird & Wonderful Sicilian Cookie

February 3, 2014

Minni di virgini, virgins’ breasts—little white cakes topped with a candied cherry—are nibbled in early February to remember and celebrate Saint Agatha, the patron saint of Catania. They symbolize (to me at least) what Sicily is all about: an epicurean isle brimming with black humor, where every pain morphs into pleasure. Virgin Breast Cookies for St Agatha's Feast in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Agatha, a pretty daughter of Catania who’d taken a Christian vow of chastity, caught the eye of the pagan Roman governor of Sicily. When Agatha rebuffed his advances, he retaliated by ordering her breasts pulled off. Then he roasted her in a kiln for good measure. She died on February 5, 251.

And so a martyr and patron saint was born. The citizens of Catania still celebrate Agatha as fervently as ever from February 3 to 5. On the 4th and 5th, for two long emotional days and nights, thousands of men pull a 40,000-pound silver carriage with Agatha’s relics through the city streets, followed by rivers of devotees. There is a sea of votive candles. Bells peal. Fireworks roar. Babies fly high above the mob, sent forth by trusting parents to touch the saint’s relics. Viva Sant’Agata! 

People snack on roast horse meat and virgins’ breasts. The final night, in a dangerous and utterly Sicilian move, the men drag and push Agatha’s heavy carriage up a steep hill in the city center, risking their lives in the process. Yes, when it comes to festivals, Sicily really takes the cake.

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Off Season in Sicily

January 28, 2014

There’s something wonderful about being in Sicily on winter mornings: you have the piazza all to yourself.

Oh, there might be a mutt or two coiled in a corner… but otherwise there’s a deep calm, far from the clamoring crowd. You’re free to breathe in the empty island air and indulge your inner lone wolf.

(Is it the decade of a too-busy life in NYC that’s made me crave solitude? Shoving my way on and off the 6 and 7-train every day?)

Dog in Marzamemi, Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

This is Marzamemi, a honey-colored fishing village on the east coast of Sicily (south of Siracusa and not far from Noto). I won’t set foot there in summer (crowds!), but in winter I could linger for hours. I hope heaven is as nice.

Won’t you join me for an open-air caffè? Now I’m feeling a little lonely.

Marzamemi Piazza, Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

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