Mario and Nuvola: An Industrious Pair

May 4, 2014

Meet Nuvola (left) and Mario (right).

They live and work in Castelbuono in the Madonie Mountains, not far from Cefalu.

Several years ago Mayor Marco Cicero had the idea of eliminating garbage trucks from the old town and substituting six donkeys–going back to the way things were done 60 years ago. Nuvola (Cloud) works everyday except Sunday, clomping door to door gathering and separating trash. She and her fellow donkeys are all female because, according to Mario, women are more docile and diligent.

Garbage-Collecting Donkey in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

The sweet creatures get pretty bogged down.

Trash-Collecting Donkey in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

The town is saving money (no need for truck upkeep or gas!) and there’s less exhaust from trucks. Eco-friendly, says the mayor.

But as animal rights groups and the mayor of New York are trying to ban horse-drawn carriages in Central Park as being abusive (though the “Horse Whisperer” says the horses are content), I’m wondering: what do you think??? Are trash-hauling donkeys a good idea?


ABOUT CASTELBUONO: Nuvola (Cloud) gets her name from the clouds often hanging over this lovely town. If you’re on holiday in Cefalu, be sure to visit! There’s a stunning Norman castle and museum, some interesting shopping (check out “manna” and the fabulous sweet shop called Fiasconaro), and a yellow piazza bubbling with water, chatter, laughter.

Central Piazza in Castelbuono, Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga


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What We Saw on the Road to Palermo

February 2, 2013

We drove up from the south on a bright blue day.

“Let’s stick to the little back roads!” I said, and Kim raised his eyebrows.

We saw gorgeous villas abandoned to pigeons.

Abandoned Villa in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

We saw Giovanni, pastore, who has kept goats for half a century.

Sicilian Shepherd, copyright Jann Huizenga

We saw abandoned houses the color of persimmons, with trees shaped like corn dogs on a stick.


And that is where we got into trouble.


We had to turn around. (Only lost a few hours.)

Snow-capped Madonie Mountains, copyright Jann Huizenga

We zipped through the cold Madonie Mountains…

…and came out the other side to warm sea breezes. Palermo! Straight on!

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