Seafood in Sicily: Calamari served with sundried tomatoes

squid-sundried tomato

 
Calamari fritti (Calamares fritos in Spanish) or squid rings were among the best things I tasted during a month of travel in Spain, but in Italy calamari are usually served whole either grilled or fried with a wedge of lemon for company. I was mucho disappointed.

Occasionally a fish soup or similar type dish offered calamari in rings in a tomato and white wine sauce which was always good but not as satisfying as the Spanish version. (I expect a reaction from any Italian reading this who was brought up to believe that Italian food is better than Spanish. Is it really? Just go there and then decide OK?)

I decided to cook the Italian version with white wine and cherry tomatoes so I set out for the market to procure some squid. I was disappointed to see them at 10 Euro a kilo, when in winter they had been at just 5.

The preparation is simple: the squid’s head must be ripped from the body and all but the tentacles discarded. The head must be then chopped between the tentacles and the weird eyes, taking care to remove the jaw bone which is in the middle. Next the body is cut open and everything inside is removed, including the long backbone. Now you’re ready to slice it into whatever size or shape your imagination desires.

Fry some garlic for 3 minutes in olive oil, add white wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate, add cherry tomatoes (I use about 5 per calamaro), add the unfortunate looking squid, turn up the heat to boil for a minute then back down to a simmer. Add salt, parsley and black pepper if desired. Taste and see that the Lord is good! Get it right in the pot before going to the plate!
 

squid in sauce

 
Sundried tomatoes are nothing new in Ireland but I notice that not many people eat them. When I bought a packet there I remember the instructions suggested I place them in a bowl of water for half an hour. I mentioned this to some Italians and there was a chorus of no’s to deafen an emo.

Instead they should be ‘washed’ for three minutes under running water and placed sotto olio.

While in the stunningly beautiful, but overly tourist inhabited Marzamemi, on the advice of a well informed local food lover, I purchased some sun dried cherry tomatoes. I knew I was in for a taste explosion. When I told another local what I had bought he gave me a knowing look that confirmed my suspicions.

Back at base a few days later I set about preparing them the Italian way. First I rinsed the tiny tomatoes under running water then poured about a cup of good olive oil into a bowl and added peperoncino, oregano, chopped garlic and basil. The recipe called also for mint but I thought this a bit like overkill. I let all sit in the fridge for a few hours.

They were spectacular! More time soaking in oil may improve the taste but sometimes the oil may ‘harden’ around them. They are best eaten on a piece of freshly baked bread where the taste really comes through.
 

statua senza testa catania

One of the odd looking statues without heads to be found around Catania.
 
John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: Food In Sicily, Relocation Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Quotes from Irish Literature

Bachelors Walk

Quotes from Irish Literature

 

[This article was also published at The Reading Life as part of Irish Short Story Month]

One way some of the greatest writers managed to become recognised and transmit their message more widely is through quotes.  One naked line taken from one of their greatest works or from a random interview or conversation was recorded and repeated eventually becoming famous.

Some exponents of the quote probably did so without realising their words would reach such a massive audience, one that had often not read a single word of their works.  I particularly identify with the quotes of Irish writers, since I am unintentionally following in the footsteps of Joyce, Beckett and others in becoming an Irish writer who lives abroad.

On the wall of The Bachelor Inn on Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1, there are a plethora of inspiring and amusing quotes from Irish writers ranging from Patrick Kavanagh to Jonathon Swift.
 

Bachelor's Walk

 
This one from Jonathon Swift is often repeated in many forms:

‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’

Samuel Beckett’s quote about university may not make immediate sense to those outside Ireland, but rest assured ‘thick’ means stupid and he believed it applicable in describing the fortunate few who reached higher studies during his era.

‘Dublin university contains the cream of Ireland; rich and thick.’

George Bernard Shaw’s wit still brings a smile to my face even after hearing the quote many times:

‘Lack of money is the root of all evil.’

My personal favourite from the quotes displayed on this wall is the following again by Jonathon Swift:

‘A tavern is a place where madness is sold by the bottle.’
 

The Bachelor Inn

 
Other quotes I found in various places:

 
George Bernard Shaw:

‘My main reason for adopting literature as a profession was that, as the author is never seen by his clients, he need not dress respectably.’

 
Oscar Wilde:

‘Oh! journalism is unreadable, and literature is not read.’

 
Brendan Behan:

‘The English always have their wars in someone else’s country.’

 
Oscar Wilde:

‘We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

 
Brendan Behan:

‘The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less.’

 
So as a reader of this article, ask yourself how much you have read from the above writers.  They were the celebrated writers of their day.  Would it be accurate to compare them to modern writers?  Or with the new forms of media today has the influence of the writer been diminished?  How many quotes will we remember from the stock of writers of the past 30 years?

The quote is a lightning fast mode of understanding both life and the work of a particular genius.  Through this medium, Irish writers with their excellent use of wit have inserted their ideas into modern society in a delicate fashion.  It is rare to question the wisdom expressed in a quote, especially if it comes from another time.  Society accepts it as fact, as morality even.  The quote will live on but it remains to be seen if modern Irish writers will benefit as greatly as their predecessors.

It may not be from Irish literature but this old Irish proverb remains forever true:

‘Níl aon tinteán mar do thinteán féin.’

(There’s no fireplace like your own fireplace aka There’s no place like home.)

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: General Articles, Ireland, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back to the Gaff by John P Brady

Back to the Gaff Slide

Dublin, Ireland, Irish writing, short stories
 

Back to the Gaff

 

Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland

 
Back to the Gaff is a new book by new author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life. Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.

Many of the characters are figures who prop up some of the city centre bars and inhabit a parallel universe in which they never have a normal night out. The mundane is their enemy which they strike out against at every opportunity, escaping into a world of vice, where sex is casual and drugs are ubiquitous.

 
Praise for Back to the Gaff:

‘Keen, witty observations of ordinary people. John P Brady has a funny twist on life’
Sam North – Editor of Hackwriters Magazine

‘…like a young Jack Kerouac…’
Alice Walsh – Former editor of The Bohemyth

‘Brady’s writing renews the reconciliation between introspection and action.’
Shazia Hafiz Ramji, Editor Zouch Magazine

 
Help me keep the wolf from the door!
Buy an ebook direct from me now and be reading in less than a minute!

(various ebook formats available)




 
Dublin, Ireland, Irish writing, short stories
 
Also available in paperback from Amazon.

Please only use Amazon.com if you are a US customer. Only use this for the paperback version, please buy the ebook directly from this site using the paypal link above. Thank you.

 

Buy Back to the Gaff (paperback version) from:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Categories: Fiction, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Viagra on a Sicilian Sunday – Good Food and Drink

Vino dalla Sicilia

It’s always a good day when you can’t decide which of the mouthwatering delights in your kitchen you’re going to luxuriate in. Today was an exception though, as there were a few alien delights from Puglia in addition to the daily wonders from Sicily.

Burrata is a divine experience. It’s described as mozzarella with cream, with an outer layer of the former and a luxurious centre comprising both. This indulgent cheese is typically found in the Murgia subregion of Puglia. It’s best enjoyed with some fresh bread, ideally schiacciatella as found in Sicily.

Burrata cheese from Puglia

Burrata

Add to this wonderful mix some viagra! Yes, a spicy peperoncino based red pesto come salsa from Puglia that is called viagra. I tasted it apprehensively unsure what might happen next. Would I spend the remainder of the day in the throes of unavoidable passion? I looked over at my lunch companion and gave her the eye.

Both burrata and viagra go really well on bread but the latter also makes a fine pesto for your otherwise bland pasta. Looking into the fridge, I spotted a cotoletta di pollo, a delicious piece of breaded chicken, which tastes much better than it either sounds or looks. Fried on a non-stick pan without oil and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice, this can make you reassess your relationship with chicken.

viagra salsa di puglia

Viagra!

I had taken the liberty of stocking up on local biological wine at the Sunday morning market and so was prepared for any eventualities. The salsa viagra/wine combination hit me. I was destined for good times!

At the market there were bio vegetables, fruit, cheese, pesto, tomato salsa and whatever else you could think of. A drunken foreigner (not me, another one!) hovered around the wine stall. He, like every drunk, wished to impart knowledge, wisdom known only to him. The wine vendor shook his head.
‘If you drink it every day and don’t eat, you become crazy!’
I had every intention of eating I assured him, as I selected from the glorious range he had on offer.

Now for lunch. Being a Sunday there was one more ingredient to fulfil the billing: Jazz. It should be mandatory every Sunday lunchtime, in my humble, partially drunk, and now festooned opinion. Buona domenica!

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

Categories: Food In Sicily, Relocation Blog, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Duke

John P Brady Back to the Gaff

It never rains but it pours… A couple of weeks after getting published in ZOUCH Magazine, I’ve now been also published in Hackwriters.

This time the story concerns courting, well a very surreal encounter with a Dublin girl, to be more precise. Expect the unexpected. This is modern Ireland!

Here is the link to Hackwriters:
http://www.hackwriters.com/DukeJPB.htm

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Classic Tractor

farm

I’m delighted to say that ZOUCH Magazine has published, Classic Tractor, a story about a disagreement between two farmers in rural Ireland. I’m proud that my work is being featured in such a prestigious magazine.

Here is the link:
http://zouchmagazine.com/classic-tractor/

Categories: Fiction | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Amore in Italy: How long should the chase last?

Love in Italy

 

The age old human tradition of man chasing woman is rooted in the caveman period.  Nowadays in Ireland and other modern societies it is quite common and acceptable for the girl to do just as much of the shovel work as the former pursuer might.  How much pursuing is too much and when do you say “enough” [screw this] and move on to another?

As I live in Italy, weeks and even months of pursuing is normal if a little outdated.  A girl may indicate interest in the usual conscious and unconscious ways such as flirty comments or huge eyes watching your every move.  Then if the man wants to continue this charade he must pursue and he must be prepared for a mammoth struggle.

A decision to couple up is not taken lightly in this repressed, socially peculiar country, so the female especially will take great joy in the elongating of the pre-courtship period, one which may prove endless.

Once you’ve exchanged numbers and then later messages, you’ll expect to meet up.  If nothing transpires in the first meeting it may not mean that all hope of a hook up is doomed, it merely means that she enjoys time being spent on her (what girl doesn’t).  She may keep you abreast of her intentions by calling and/or messaging you the next day to meet again.

Amore-italia-John P Brady

Ti voglio tanto bene sai


On the next meeting again nothing may happen and man’s worst enemy, frustration, will lift its sordid head.  The fine line now appears: if another meeting passes without some progression then the guy may look elsewhere, or he may patiently await one final meeting.

This charade is seldom played out in the modern world of open minded, socially adroit people for long.  The man must be given the right obvious signals and when I say obvious I mean blatant.  The girl must then receive the right advances, consistent and courteous.

If you meet someone that revels in the chase and gives no sign of progression then why not procure an ice cream and drive their nose into it forcibly, as you will have just wasted some valuable days of your finite life.  Forget it, move on, and pursue a modern thinking, socially open, worthy object of your desires.

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

Categories: Life in Sicily, Relocation Blog, Slide | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Supermarkets in Sicily

Sicilian Food

The myriad of wonders that are available in Sicily’s supermarkets take some time to get through. An expat really needs to leave behind the idea of eating the familiar homely foods and embrace this essential part of Sicilian life.

There is the meat counter where along with the usual selection of cuts, there are breaded meats, burgers and involtini. The latter are rolled meat on skewers mixed with various cheeses, pistachio or other meats. They are simply mind blowing, even for a fish fanatic like me.

The cold counter, which is usually close by, provides endless varieties of raw and cooked ham, blocks of cheese, bread, grilled vegetables (courgettes, aubergine etc), cooked fish (dried or in vinegar/oil), various marinated olives.

Here it can be a struggle to get served. Make sure to find the ticket machine and get a number, otherwise elderly women will be elbowing you out of the way and skipping past you all evening. They often don’t bother getting a number, instead expect someone to say “Prego!” and let them go ahead. While waiting at the checkout they also try to skip, as they simply cannot bear to wait even one moment. Perhaps they think they don’t have many left.

Prosciutto - John P Brady

Many supermarkets in Sicily for some bizarre reason are French owned and so the rest of the supermarket is quite similar to the generic variety which can be found all over Europe. There is the fruit and veg area where a man will insist on putting the items into a bag for you in case you were too intellectually deficient to do it yourself. I’ve also seen supermarkets here where they re-weigh the fruit and veg at the till in case you put an extra one in after weighing. Suspicious at every moment.

A dazzling variety of wines are then in view and a paltry selection of beers. Italian beer is not often drank by those outside of Italy and even Italians themselves are less then satisfied with it. The below photo shows just a small selection of wines which were positioned next to the cheese for dramatic effect.

Sicily Cheese and Wine - John P Brady At the supermarket till the attendant will typically have no change and will actually give you abuse if you arrive with a €50 euro note. Even a €20 euro note causes some groans and looks of disgust. Unlike Northern Europe however, they will not insist that you pay down to the last cent.

In Ireland if your bill comes to €20.01 many places will insist that you pay that last cent. Here, such tightness is avoided, especially if it means they don’t have to part with their precious change.

So after elbowing a few grannies, I re-emerged onto the street with some super quality items and made for home to see the results.

Some suggestions for your shopping list:

Wine: Nero D’Avola

Cheese: Grana Padano

Ham: Crudo di Parma

Salad: Pomodorini (cherry tomatoes), Olive nere (black olives)

Bread: Schiacciatine con olive (‘crushed’ bread with olive)

Below is a selection of the bread available in a local Sicilian Paneficio.

Sicilian Bread

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

Categories: Food In Sicily, Relocation Blog | 1 Comment

Palermo

Teatro Massimo Palermo

Palermo is an anomaly. It cannot be explained easily but it’s precisely this complexity that gives it its charm. But once there what is there to do? Palermo is to be enjoyed and this quick guide to the essential sights should help orientate a potential visitor to Sicily’s capital.

The main sight of note is the cathedral, which is located on via Vittorio Emanuele. This expansive structure, which is very photogenic with its careful arches and nearby palm trees, was built by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th Century and altered many times afterwards.

Cathedral John P BradyPalermo Cathedral

Next on the list, just off the horrible via Maqueda, is Teatro Massimo, in Piazza Verdi, famous for the penultimate scene filmed outside the opera in The Godfather Part III (if anyone can bring themselves to watch that movie after the glory of the previous two). The theatre is simply beautiful, with again palm trees adorning the outside.

Nearby and also off via Maqueda, is the Politeama in Piazza Ruggero Settimo beside the adjoined Piazza Castelnuovo. This square is known locally as Piazza Politeama, as the Italians need at least two names for everything, (except for love). This splendid theatre, which is host to performances of various genres, is dedicated to a certain Mr Garibaldi who is credited with having joined Italy together 150 years ago.

For a nice picnic, if such a thing took your fancy, there is a large green space outside the south gate of the city, Porta Felice (Happy Gate or The Gate to Happiness, so promising!). Here you can relax away from the madness of the city’s traffic and look over the perfect blue of the sea.

Quattro Canti John P BradyQuattro Canti

Another sight is Quattro Canti, the gorgeous crossroads between via Maqueda and via V. Emanuele. Here several horse and carts wait to transport tourists around the intense city.

For going our there is the choice between Vucciria and Ballaro’, both of which are very underground and alternative in feel. There will be no soul crushing commercial tripe heard here. Dress for the occasion, heels and swanky shirts are best left at home.

Vucciria is located in Piazza Magione, down a few steps from via Roma close to the corner with via V. Emanuele. Ballaro’ is a market by day and can be found by taking via del Bosco from via Maqueda. In both these areas it would be wise to watch your belongings and try not to end your night lying in a pool of vomit. These are both ways by which you ‘ask for trouble.’

Palermo John P Brady

Two last things, for an amazing panino, try the large jumble of streets in front of Teatro Massimo and most specifically, Piazza Olivella (between via Roma and via Maqueda). Here one can eat a panino to die for.

Also beside Teatro Massimo, there is an interesting clothes market called Capo, on via Sant’Agostino. It seems to go on forever and starts with shoes and scarves and ends with spices and vegetables.

Palermo John P BradyFlying into Palermo

A low budget place to stay where you will surely meet wonderful people is Your Hostel, via Gagini, 61 (just off via Roma). The staff here are more than just friendly, they make you feel at home. This is one of the best hostels not just in Palermo, but in Sicily. Check their website.

Palermo can be chaotic but it is also wonderful. You must try to like it and it will reward you.

John P BradyTaking a break at Bukowski, via Cagliari

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

Categories: Relocation Blog, Slide, Travel in Italy | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Streets of San Francisco by John P Brady

First published in The Bohemyth’s Beat Generation issue.

“John P Brady’s ‘Streets of San Francisco’ takes us right into the heart of Beat country where his narrator like a young Jack Kerouac goes in search of the elusive pearl, looking for the heart of Saturday night – you’ll have to read it to see if he finds what he’s looking for.” – Alice Walsh former editor of The Bohemyth

 
Here is the story in full:
 

Streets of San Francisco

- By John P Brady

I turned and mounted the steep hill on Taylor Street. I was in San Francisco at last. I didn’t look back as the car disappeared behind me; we had spent every moment of the last 3 days together travelling from San Diego. They were good people but now our paths diverged. My road was another and I had to follow it.

I entered Amsterdam Hotel and proceeded to pay for my accommodation. The goth girl on the desk put on Stone Temple Pilots as I waited to check in. A French guy in a floral shirt scrambled around in the office behind her.

“Is that Soundgarden?” I asked her.

“No, it’s STP,” she responded.

“Same band,” I commented trying to rise her.

“Excuse me, you’re talking to a fan,” she defended.

And quite a lady she was – just my type, with an edge to her. I imagined her dancing seductively in a dark rock club. Her punk/rock/chick look persuaded me to ask her for some local knowledge.

“So where does a guy go to have fun in this town?” I asked in an unapologetically thick Irish accent.

She immediately scribbled on a map the location of all her favourite rock hangouts, describing each one to make sure my decision would be an informed one. Grateful, I thanked her and grabbing my guitar and bag, headed for the second floor.

I needed to wash so looking in the bathroom I found a bathtub with a shower. The bath was blocked and almost full of the vilest liquid I could have imagined. It wouldn’t have been wise to get in, so I showered standing on the edges, slipping as I went. Water overflowed from the bath and covered the floor.

Soon afterwards there was a knock at my door. The French guy from reception rushed into the room saying there was a problem in the kitchen. We looked into the bathroom to see the several inches of water that had collected on the floor ripple gently.

“Okay, we have a problem,” the he asserted.

Soon I was helping him attack the bath with a large plunger.

“Ah, is no good,” he sighed. ‘I worry for the kitchen.’

It was clearly a job for him. It was time to get out and see the city so I prepared to leave. The French guy wore an impressive 70’s shirt which I had to comment on.

“That shirt you’re wearing is superb,” I mentioned.

“Ah thees one! Somebody leave it behind and I just wear it!”

Well, as the Yanks say: “That’s how I roll!”

It was time to find these dungeons of rock that San Francisco proudly hid amidst its great hills and corners.

After a quick step down by Union Square I grabbed a quick slice of pizza and moved towards the party streets. Bums were everywhere. Some I thought had arrived into the city just like me with a little money and just fell on hard times. America really forgets its poor.

I saw a suitably underground bar and went in. It was packed with stoned punters who wore mostly black. Neil Young sang out proudly on the jukebox. “Be on my side/I’ll be on your side…”

The barman poured me ale and I searched for a seat. I saw room in a seedy corner by a pool table. I gestured to the guy sitting there to ask if it was okay to sit. He looked deep into space and completely ignored me. I sipped deep into my first beer in San Fran.

The guy next to me raised a hand suddenly and held it there, almost touching my head. I stole a glance to see what variety of maniac he was. He gestured to an unscrupulous character at the other side of the pool table that looked back menacingly. Obviously my choice of seat was not popular with everybody. He approached and stood over me staring fixedly with empty eyes. I decided it was time to move.

I passed the legions of “cool kids” who each wore more unusual clothing that the last. The bar appeared to be divided in two, stoned rockers one side, coked-up hipsters the other. I left for another bar.

I went out into the fresh San Francisco night and noticed the chill from the mist which descended over the bay each evening. I saw the Edinburgh Castle on my right. Outside to the left of the bar, sat six or seven teenagers. They were puffing on joints and taking photos of each other

“Hi Mom, I’m high,” said one girl while posing for her hairy friend’s camera.

To my right a circle of older punters was forming. One tall guy with grey hair stood fidgeting in his pocket.

“Are you on stage now, man?” one of the others asked him.

The grey haired man produced a dope pipe, and began puffing hurriedly. He grumbled to the affirmative.

The group of guys puffed on American style joints and miniature pipes on the main street as a homeless black crack-head looked on. His eyes screamed for a hit. The grey haired guy reached into his pocket and parted with a roach to cheer him up. The crack-head grasped it frantically and putting it in his mouth, tried to puff.

“No you have to light it first…wait a minute…there you go,” said the grey haired man.

A moment later they went inside the bar, leaving the crack-head swaying alone, puffing relentlessly. I followed along inside, intrigued.

The grey haired man walked to the stage and picked up a bass guitar with the authority of a true musician.

The music began and I leaned against a post drinking ale, totally captivated by what I saw. It was progressive and delicate, soft and strong. Hippies of all ages swayed to the music, others watched with reverence.

The music ended and I snapped out of my haze and went outside. During the road trip from the Mexican border, I had not been on my own even for a moment for 4 days and now the feeling was strange. I went back to where I was standing before watching an endless stream of hobos passing. A mixed group of fashionable mid-twenties in front of me looked to be deciding on their next move.

I used my shamelessly lost Irishman line once again.

“So where does a guy go to have fun in this town?”

“You have an accent!” a girl responded as the five of them turned around in unison.

“Where are you from?” another asked.

They were eager to show me the city.

“Come with us we’re goin’ out now!”

Moments later I was in the back of a Chrysler careering through the streets of San Francisco with Lia, a beautiful Persian-American girl, on my lap. This is it!

We arrived at a club and I soon realised that Lia, clearly the single girl of the group, knew everybody there. I was introduced to super good-looking girls who smiled broadly and snobby gay people who would barely talk to me.

This mass introduction lasted a few minutes before I lost everybody and stood alone again. I began to wander around what I realised was just another soulless R’n’B club which held only negative pretentious vibes.

I listened as the DJ played 40 seconds of a classic song before applying tasteless alterations then changing the track and repeating the process. I walked around and wanted to leave.

Lia was from Iran originally and she was a dynamic representation of Persian beauty. She was the only person from the group that I had made any connection with. She wasn’t exactly easy to talk to as she was fond of affecting a persona which she felt she needed for whatever reason. Crucially, I hadn’t seen her for the last 20 minutes. I walked around alone.

I had firmly decided to leave when suddenly she returned. She looked into my eyes and held my gaze. I felt compelled to get close to her.

She drank more and more and sensing that I was still sober she urged me to drink up. The temptation of Eve. We began to dance and any barriers that we had were now gone. When I moved to kiss her she resisted saying that she didn’t kiss guys that were leaving in two days.

The time passed and now it was just Lia, her friend, Karen and a guy she knew.

We went outside. Karen and the guy began making out with vigour. Lia kicked me in the leg in a playful, drunken fashion.

“You’re just here ‘cos you want a piece of American ass!” she shouted.

“I don’t want American ass,” I announced, “I want Persian ass.”

This promoted another installment of girly violence.

A few bruises later and we were in a taxi, Lia and I along with Karen and her guy.

We pulled up at an upmarket apartment block and I reminded myself that you never really know who you’re talking to outside a bar. It turned out that she owned her apartment, a well decorated, plush place within walking distance of the centre. Inside there was considerable comfort, soft tones and designer furniture, making her abode a pleasure to be in.

We sat on the couch. Still no love and it was getting late. Karen and the guy were dry-humping like animals right next to us. She reached into his pants and rummaged around. A few minutes later they got up and said they were leaving, going to her place apparently.

Lia put on the latest sensation, a Scottish group that had made a name in the US. We sat on the sofa as Lia continued casual conversation and gradually we began to make out.

She had a sofa bed which seemed less pressurised than going to her room, also it was nearer.

A peaceful night later and it was morning. We hit the make or break moment. If the conversation died here I was going for the door. But things went smoothly and soon we were heading out for morning coffee.

The day ran with huge momentum as Lia took me over to Haight-Ashbury the site of the great flower-power revolution. We shopped in the vintage stores, ate Mexican food in a noisy restaurant and became very fond of each other. When we arrived at the Downtown bus stop she lay back on the grass verge and lying over her, I kissed her tenderly.

During the crowded bus journey we barely took our eyes off each other. We then walked silently through the streets towards her apartment each moment uncertain. When we arrived she threw the door open without really offering an invitation. She didn’t need to. Then we were in the elevator, going up.

 
First published here http://thebohemyth.com/ (Scroll down to the fourth story.)


 

Categories: Fiction | Leave a comment

Sant’Agata 2013 Catania, Sicily

Saint Agatha Catania

Saint Agatha Catania
In ‘Borgo’ the huge candles have almost burned out. Rivers of wax form on the pavement.
 
This year the Sant’Agata festival came upon me with less drama, as I already expected it to be dynamic, overwhelming and exotic. It certainly did not fail to meet its high expectations. Now days later all that remains are forgotten morsels of wax which stick to the tyres of Catania’s impatient motorists.

Below are a selection of images I took from the festival. They were taken on the 5th of February, the most important day of the celebrations, when the saint’s relic is taken from the cathedral in Piazza Duomo and completes a long journey through the city.

The full itinerary is: Piazza Duomo, via Etnea, via Coronda, Piazza Cavour, back along via Etnea to via Sangiugliano and finally via Crociferi. It leaves Piazza Duomo at around 5pm and arrives at via Crociferi sometime after 8am the next morning.

Sant'Agata Catania - John P Brady

As the procession slowly makes its way up via Etnea, huge crowds of people wait on both sides of the road. This young man is trimming the wick of his candle before continuing his journey to Piazza Cavour (known locally as Borgo).

Sant'Agata Catania John P Brady

After a short rest these men pick up their huge candles with difficulty, and continue their journey northwards up the hill to Piazza Cavour.

Sant'Agata Catania John P Brady

This picture shows the extent of the crowding. Young and old, male and female, follow along in the procession which can be tightly compressed. It is all the more impressive when you consider that it lasts for over 15 hours!

Sant'Agata Catania John P Brady

The streets are covered on both sides by stalls selling everything from sweets and nuts to beer and paninos.

Sant'Agata Catania John P Brady

The procession on via Etnea. The man on the left of the photo is accepting candles from the crowd, which are then burned either side of the relic.

Sant'Agata Catania John P Brady

Young men, tired after carrying their candles for several hours, rest with friends in the candle glow.

Here is a short video of the procession:

 

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: Life in Sicily, Relocation Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter in Sicily

Sant'Agata Catania

Lights in Villa Bellini for Sant’Agata celebrations, Feb 3rd to 5th, annually

It’s winter in Sicily and I haven’t posted a thing for the last while as I ran into some website issues which refused to go away. But you are not reading this to hear about my problems, in fact you don’t care, nor should you. Your problems are far more pressing and concerning, as they pertain to you.

Now this wouldn’t be a blog in the conventional sense unless I posted some rambling, badly thought out, mush every now and then. So here I go.

It’s winter in Sicily and surprisingly for those who don’t understand seasons or weather in general, it’s actually cold here. So it may have been snowing in the north of Europe over the past while and you say how lucky you are that it’s nice and warm in Sicily.

Well as I alluded to, it’s not warm, well at least not at night. Daytime it can reach 19 C which, let’s face it, is not bad for January, but night time brings an altogether different reality. Our beautiful 19 C could drop to 4 C and a 15 C drop inside a few hours damn well makes itself known to you. The next few days here are set to be 1 C to 2 C at night which is colder than in Ireland at the moment.

Sant'Agata Catania

Chaos in the middle of town, Sant’Agata

Another factor that people forget when considering Sicily, is that central heating hasn’t been invented here yet. We suffer in unheated houses for the 2 month winter, feeling suitably sorry for ourselves. An essential purchase is a stufa, or heater which will drive your electricity costs into the roof, just where most of the heat goes also. Our 18-foot ceilings mean that a warm room is an impossibility, better just go to bed and have a cuddle, or hibernate if you’re single.

As I mentioned, we do feel quite sorry for ourselves here, especially as most expats moved to Sicily to escape the phenomenon of winter entirely. We just can’t accept not being able to sit outside, without those perpetually awful, gas heaters which singe you hair, make your face red and just sort of tower over you threateningly.

sant'agata catania

Strange little van seen at Sant’ Agata 2012

People, and I blame bar-owners, just can’t accept that when it’s cold, when it’s winter in Sicily, you should perhaps spend some time indoors. Nature dictates that we must huddle together for a few months of the year playing cards and drinking hot whiskey. It’s not a bad deal.

The time to wear speedos will come again, although there is really never an appropriate time to wear speedos. Until then we should eat seasonal fruit and veg, warm ourselves, and complain about politics, not because we know anything about it, but because we want to appear more intellectual.

So get your hot whiskey ready, become intimate with your stufa, and wait for this indoor season to pass. It’s winter in Sicily also.

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

Categories: Life in Sicily, Relocation Blog | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Story published! – ‘The Sport of Kings?’

Hi, great news, I’ve a story published in The Galway Review. It’s available to read on line here

The story is about two guys who worked in a bookmakers, taking bets all day from down and out types, the punters who never stop. These fine gentlemen, of course, would prefer to be drinking pints of Guinness in a fine local bar than dealing with these fools who come in every day to lose their money.

The Sport of Kings?

By John P Brady

Rory sat in work looking at the clock. The 5:30 at Punchestown was about to start and a sole punter came running up to the counter with a last minute docket. Rory took the bet which distracted momentarily from his forlorn deliberations as to why he was in this dead end job. Soon the racing would be finished and he could close the shop and go for a pint. He was off the next day. >>>continue reading>>>

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I Could Eat a Horse – Horse Meat in Sicily

Horse meat Sicily
Horse meat - John P Brady‘Horse it into ya, will ya?!’

 
Via Plebiscito is the home of the horse. It’s also a fine place to go if you want to get a taste of the, at times, shockingly real Sicily. If you are a ferocious carnivore and prefer generous amounts of meat on your plate, then here you will get your satisfaction.

Catania is at least two cities, the first being the clean, elegant and impeccable, via Etnea and its surrounds. The second is an anomaly of sorts – a dangerous, run-down, exciting, noisy but very authentic city. A horse of another colour, if you will.
Via Plebiscito runs from the Pescheria or fish market, behind Piazza Duomo around in a semi circle to near Piazza Stesicoro. It covers a large area of the west of the city where scooters zoom by at high speed and the atmosphere is one of uncertainty. The food prices decrease the further you stray from the centre and here an arancino or a pizza slice can be found for one euro (bargain!).
 
Horse Meat Catania - John P Brady

Horse meat (carne di cavallo) and Horse burgers (polpette) on the left, Involtini on the right, Salsicce and Cipollate at the back

 
The famous crossroads to eat such wonders as horse burgers (known as polpette) or horse steaks, is near to Piazza Stesicoro. It’s best as a tourist or a red head, to not stray any further down via Plebiscito, lest you take your life in your hands.

One of my students advertised his going to one horse meat establishment – ‘I’m going this evening with friends to eat horse meat. I will eat a plate “this big”.’ He made an expansive gesture with his hands.
‘You’re a dark horse,’ I told him.
‘It’s probably the most delicious meat I’ve ever tasted! You have to try it. Come with me sometime,’ he suggested.
‘No way, you’re flogging a dead horse.’
 

Horse Burger - John P Brady

 
‘Do you buy horse meat at the market?’ I asked Federica, a local.
‘No, never! At the panineria always. To get the real feel of a panino con carne di cavallo, it must be eaten on the street,’ she told me.
‘It is not eaten in the north,’ one local said.
‘It is not even eaten in Palermo,’ said another, ‘it’s unique to Catania.’  To deduce its popularity is easy – it is loved, raved about even. There you have it – straight from the horse’s mouth.

As my father bred show-jumpers, I can’t stand the smell or even the sight of the stuff.
 

Horse Menu - John P BradyMenu- Pasta and veg on the left, meat on the right

 
I went to what seemed like a popular panino house near the port. The fat old woman advertised her sausages as the best I might find. She made the buona hand gesture, which is a finger pointed at the cheek and twisted. I asked for a chicken or a pork panino. Nothing doing.
‘Only cavallo!’ she declared. Many burly, ravenous men entered in a mini stampede, eager for a horse fix.
‘Hold your horses!’ I wanted to say to them.
 
Down at ‘Horse Corner’ as I call it, you can also eat involtini, a delicious mix of chicken, cheese and ham or aubergine, cheese and ham, which is wrapped together and thrown on the grill. The pork sausages (salsicce) are also magnificent, some are mixed with tomato, fennel, cheese or onion. Cipollate is spring onions wrapped in pancetta and although extremely fatty are also delicious. Afterwards you’ll be as strong as a horse.
At Horse Corner, my comrades asked if I might not reconsider and try the celebrated meat.
‘Well, you can bring a horse to water…’

(Apologies for the merciless use of idioms.)
 
 
Sicilian Swear Words - John P Brady

Nearby: Partial list of swear words in Sicilian language/dialect.

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

Categories: Food In Sicily, Relocation Blog, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Afternoon Gossip Sicily

John P Brady - Sicilian cafe

John P Brady - Sicilian cafe

Sicily

I go to an internet cafe slash panino house and take advantage of their air conditioning, free internet and of course spicy salami panini.

It is the ‘study’ period in Catania. This means that the diligent studious few spend a full month in preparation for one 20 minute oral exam.

In practice this means they dutifully lug some books along with them to the beach or to the bar. Because the exams are in the oral format the students have been conditioned into thinking that the best way to remember the useless info that they study is to read it and then repeat it aloud. Therefore all over Catania there are those who sit and talk to themselves. At times like this it’s quite difficult to identify the maniacs.

One young man comes in and sits by a table. He opens a book and commences to mumble paragraphs out loud to himself. To the casual stranger he is little more than another freak chattering to himself in public. To the trained eye, however, he is an erudite Catanese student.

Some students meet specially in air conditioned rooms and test each other’s knowledge by posing exam questions that they have invented. No one knows what will be asked; out of a book of 200 pages, one may be asked three or four quite specific questions. They must answer correctly though to at least 3 of these or be failed on the spot.

This cafe is polluted by some particularly inane and rather chatty Sicilian ladies. They prance around with little purpose other than to seek attention from whatever men are in the vicinity. They spend their entire ‘study’ period drinking caffe freddo, eating gelato and gossiping about foreigners who are in earshot.

‘Is he an American?’ asks one.
‘Probably, look at him. He’s definitely a foreigner,’ concludes another.
‘Be careful, maybe he’ll hear you,’ warns a third.
‘Don’t worry, he can’t speak Italian.’

I continue typing, perfecting my ignorant innocence.

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: Life in Sicily, Relocation Blog, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Campus in Three Acts

 
Roadside Fiction have published one of my stories. It is an online realist fiction magazine and the current issue contains lots of well-written alternative style stories.
 
This is their brief outline:
A snapshot of university life. Two alternative-minded students stroll through campus meeting a strange individual with a gas canister and relating unusual stories. Read the story
 

‘Campus in Three Acts’ by John P Brady

 

Act One: The Balloon Man

We met at the Forum Bar. It was so called because the bland concrete exterior apparently bore a vague resemblance to a Roman Forum. It was the secondary bar on campus, frequented only by post-grads and older students. Dean was typically full of beans.
Read the story
 

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Learn a Language to Improve Brain Power

KAPLAN_BENEFITS_INFOGRAPHIC

learn language-john p brady
 

Learn a Language to Improve Brain Power

 
The subjective matter of which area of your life can be best improved by learning a new language, career, love life, travel or brain power will depend on your own unique experience of life. As a rule of thumb though, all four areas will be enhanced, but one will perhaps emerge as the winner.

During a long period of fascination with Italy, my desire to travel, to become erudite on matters such as the local food, nightspots and browse the markets has never diminished. For me it became apparent that being able to communicate effectively in Italian was essential in achieving satisfaction in any of these areas.

The use of a second language has become an addiction; when communication with a local is successful even on one occasion, you instantly reach your goals and even surpass your expectations of a given scenario. For example obtaining exactly the right type of peach to stew overnight in local red wine was further rewarded by the street trader with free samples of plums. On another occasion asking the fish seller to prepare a sea bream was further rewarded by the bonus of a fistful of fresh parsley as a worthy stuffing or garnish.

Workwise I now teach English as a foreign language while including journalism, blogging and translating as other occupations. Teaching English in Sicily would not be realistic without a good command of Italian (and perhaps some Sicilian!) as the grammar points often need to be explained in both English and Italian. Without the language a teacher would be limited to working with advanced and upper intermediate levels only. If a student asks what does “should” mean in Italian, such a teacher would not be able to tell them.

As for love life it’s obvious that an Italian lady will look more favourably on a prospective suitor if you tell her in her native language that you adore her. ‘Ma quanto sei bella, sei indimenticabile! You’re so beautiful, you are unforgettable!’ You might also need to add: ‘I have a large BMW and earn 150 K per year.’ This should convince her further.

It is said that learning a new language opens up new sections of the brain that have never been used before. It certainly helps in understanding language and communication in a general sense making the essence of what people want to say much clearer.

As an Irishman, I learned Gaelic during school and was fluent by the age of 12, though I was one of the lucky ones in having a magnificent native speaker as a teacher. This helped me to approach other languages with confidence, especially since Gaelic’s use of pronouns and direct and indirect articles is more similar to Italian than to English. It has been proven by research some of which is listed above that learning a third language is easier than learning a second.

As I stated at the beginning this is a subjective matter but one particular area shone through for me personally. The advantage of speaking a second or third language in my experience has been in the intellect department. I find that I can now work on many simultaneous projects without becoming either confused or tired. The ability to use your brain in diverse ways at an instant’s notice has been established through the improved cognitive function that results from learning and speaking other languages daily. It could be compared to developing the physique so that it can achieve feats previously not possible.

In few words, or as the Italians say, in poche parole, learning a language is a great workout for your brain which takes it to inconceivable heights and releases your true potential.
 
This is my entry into a competition. It is decided on the number of fb likes received. If you enjoyed the article please click the facebook like button below (while logged in).

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: General Articles, Relocation Blog | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Festa della Madonna del Carmelo a Catania

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

While waiting for some pasta to become al dente I heard a brass band in the distance.  Then I remembered La Festa della Madonna del Carmelo.  Unsure of what it involved, it seemed like a good idea to treat my ears to the marching brass band.

La Madonna del Carmelo

On the street I heard chants of “Viva Maria!” and much commotion in the distance.  Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II or Piazza Umberto as the locals call it was lit up in glorious colour.  Via Mesumerci was awash with light also so this encouraged me to follow the illumination in search of the procession.

La Madonna del Carmelo

I came upon a large crowd at a crossroads. They moved along behind a type of cart which held the relic of their saint. They moved on towards a piazza by Chiesa Santa Maria Ammalati where they seemed to stop and wait as more people gathered. Many sat around a fountain, others stood by kiosk, enjoying a quick seltz a limone while they waited. The relic made its way around the piazza and stopped by the kiosk where people got a closer look.

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

Suddenly without fore warning, a huge firework went off, stopping people in their tracks.  A slight pause to lull you into false security and another two went off.  They were coming from the front of the church where now I understood the purpose of the red and white tape which was stretched across the area in front of the church.

The display was quite dazzling with colours and sounds interchanging. This art has been finely perfected by Italians at their local festivals.

Once the spectacle was over, the relic set off past the entrance of the church and down via Giuseppe Verdi. I walked alongside noticing for the first time that it was the women, clad in brown hooded cloaks, who were pushing this huge cart along.  They struggled under the weight of the relic.

 

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

The brass band played on, young and old stood side by side.  The young had thin sheet music attached to their instruments, the old had it embedded in their brains.
The procession entered the fiera or market area and the huge piazza filled quickly.  Suddenly another firework display went off, this time on a more fantastic scale. The relic was maneuvered around until it faced the steep incline leading into the church.  The men then “ran” the relic up the steep concrete ramp and into the cathedral.

La Madonna del Carmelo, Catania

It was 1am; I had spent the last 3 hours in awe following this magical event.  Then all made their way home: families with tired children, old men who had seen it all, restless young students and some curious faced tourists.

 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: Life in Sicily, Relocation Blog | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Daily Sicilian Life

sant'agata catania

 
By John P. Brady

Taormina
It was my day off, so among other things, I went to do some grocery shopping.  As I passed the bookshop Cavallotto, I stopped to listen to an author speak at her book launch.  About 20 interested listeners followed her line of commentary, sitting round in semi-circles.

I heard the flavour of her speech: ‘…I Siciliani e la questione dello stato /…Sicilians and the issue of statehood.’  An elderly man stood up suddenly and interrupted her from the back of the room: ‘Noi Siciliani non abbiammo uno stato dagli’anni ’50 / We as Sicilians haven’t had a state since the 50′s.’  There were hums of approval.

I left and waited outside at the pedestrian lines to cross the road towards the supermarket.  A young woman was also waiting and a pick-up truck stopped to let us pass.  The three men in the pick-up truck watched her ass carefully, meticulously and made observant comments to each other.  The woman seemed to feel the eyes watching her and stopped mid-way turning round to offer a suitable hand gesture to her audience.  This was greeted by lots of shouting from the truck before they watched the conclusion of the show.

At the meat counter of the supermarket, I was about to choose a suitable cut when a Chinese woman approached me.  She pointed at a piece of pre-packed meat which bore the word “filleto” and was clearly confused as to what it might be, she said with great effort: ‘Pollo?/Chicken?’  ‘Si/Yes’ I responded.  She appeared to be using one of her very few Italian words.  Satisfied, she put it in her basket and moved into the pasta section.

Immediately another woman approached me, this time an old Sicilian woman, small, bent and angry.  She held a huge sausage.  ‘Guarda, e’ tutto grasso!/ Look, it’s all fat!’ she announced, holding the huge fatty sausage at a distance and shaking it with a look of distain on her face.  There seemed to be nothing to say, so I just utilised a suitable hand gesture.  She did the same, then added ‘succa mincchia!/cocksuckers!’ and walked away.

I made for the checkout immediately for fear of being asked further questions.  The angry old woman stormed between isles talking to whoever would listen.  The Chinese woman was nodding and waving at the checkout as her incomplete Italian had reached its limits.  The young woman swayed back out onto the street to capture the eyes of more truck drivers.  I left with my groceries.


 

John P Brady writes fiction, articles and a blog about life in Italy, where he has chosen to make his home.  His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been recently published by Roadside Fiction.  It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night and documents the attitudes of the youth in modern Irish society.  Keep up to date with his writing by subscribing:


 

And on social media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL

 

Categories: Fiction, Life in Sicily, Slide | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taormina

Taormina, according to a Sicilian friend, is the greatest sight in Sicily. He meant specifically the view from the ancient Greek theatre which is located in the northern part of the city. It needs to be seen in real life – pictures can never do it any kind of justice.

Snow Covered Mount Etna From Taormina

Looking at Mount Etna from the Greek theatre of Taormina. This picture was taken in April when the volcano was still covered with snow. It remained until mid-May even though the temperature on the ground was close to 30 C. I suppose that shows how different the temperature is at the peak (3329m according to a certain online encyclopaedia).

Train station of Giardini Naxos/Taormina

The southern part of Taormina, looking down on the train station of Giardini Naxos/Taormina. Note the Ionian Sea and its special rich colour of blue.

Ionian Sea from Greek Theatre Taormina

Looking north in the direction of Messina from the top of the Greek theatre.

Inside the Greek Theatre Taormina

Inside the Greek theatre. This was built in the 7th century BC, roughly 2700 years ago. [to put things in perspective, New York was established 400 years ago]. The Greeks designed and planned this theatre but what we see today was mostly built by the Romans. The theatre was rebuilt on the same foundations and also expanded at different stages. The structure is still Greek in style.

Greek Theatre Taormina

The back wall and the structure behind the stage are original which really add to the archaeological value of the theatre as well as giving the visitor a real idea of what it was like in its heyday.

From the Greek Theatre Taormina

Looking south down over Giardini Naxos. Mount Etna is out of shot to the right.

Taormina

A small decorative courtyard in the city.

Taormina is a small but pretty town, perched on top of a rock.  It has a pleasant atmosphere but is strongly geared towards the tourist. Visitors during the summer can expect to find it crowded and expensive. It remains a must see though mostly for the view and the majestic Greek theatre.
Admission to the theatre costs 12 euro and you can stay as long as you like. If you are a teacher entrance is 6 euro with a teacher ID but only if you can prove to the distrusting ticket woman that it is valid.


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Categories: Relocation Blog, Travel in Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments