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My Sicily: Life in the cusp of the Mediterranean Sea
Francesca V. Mignosa

Imagine you’re on a ferry—cappuccino in one hand, cornetto (croissant) in the other—crossing the Straits of Messina from Calabria to Sicily and gazing at the sky as the sunrise turns it “a romantic and poetic light pink in all its gentle shades.” This is your introduction to Sicily through the eyes and heart of Francesca Mignosa. “And there it slowly appears on the horizon in its natural beauty and simplicity, the island I was born in: SICILIA …”


My Sicily: Life in the cusp of the Mediterranean Sea offers a glimpse into Francesca’s life in Sicily starting on the east side of the island in Augusta, the town where she was born, and ending with her descriptions of some of the Sicilian Islands—the Aeolian Islands, Aegadian Islands, Pelagian Islands, and Pantelleria.


Her journey begins with memories of her childhood in Augusta bringing to mind the balcone (balcony) where “there was a small white table and chairs, a lemon tree and a number of piante di ogni genere (plants of all sorts) along with a Romeo and Juliet style railing.” From that balcone, Francesca and her sister could look down into the cortile (courtyard). “It was as if we were the audience to one amazing theatrical composition.”


Several miles north of Augusta is the “picturesque maritime village” of Brucoli, home of the author’s maternal grandparents. “Comprised of three streets” … “it also contains a number of grottos where many were either born (like one of my grandmother’s sisters) or hid from the enemy during World War II.”


Just south of Augusta is Ortigia, “the ancient part of the city of Siracusa,” where “Aretusa and Alfeo … two characters from Greek mythology” are immortalized, and when “illuminated by romantic sunsets,” it could be “one of your most memorable moments on the island,” as it is for the author. Take a side trip to Pantalica, located between Augusta and Siracusa, to visit “the largest necropolis of the Mediterranean with over 5,000 grottos used as tombs.”


Continue the voyage north to Catania, its baroque buildings constructed mainly from the lava of Mount Etna—an imposing slope in the city’s skyline. Francesca recommends a stroll through the streets at sunset when “the city is touched by a gentle light that makes the austere look of the black and white buildings more welcoming.” In the center of Catania’s Piazza del Duomo, an elephant sculpted from lava and supporting an Egyptian obelisk has many legends; in My Sicily, it’s “another fine example of cultural diversity and peaceful coexistence in Sicily.”


Further north along the coast, on the other side of Mount Etna, is the “enchanted and enchanting … gracious and romantic hilltop town of Taormina.” Francesca recalls, “We traveled often to Taormina on weekends – the season did not really matter for we were always attracted by its elegant beauty and magnetic power.” For stunning views of the bay and the volcano visit “The most illustrious ancient remain … the Greek Amphitheatre that has no equal for its scenic staging.”


As Francesca continues her journey throughout Sicily, she provides insightful details about some of the towns with suggestions for places to visit, where to eat, and where to stay. Her writing is sincere and the highlights are the memories of her times spent in Sicily. Added touches are the Sicilian proverbs that introduce most chapters.


My Sicily is an excellent travel guide—whether you take it with you to the island or read it and visit Sicily online. Either way, it will bring you closer to an island of historic importance, breathtaking views, stunning architecture, exotic scents, and vibrant people.


Published: 2013; by Author



Francesca Mignosa






Review Posted: October 21, 2013

2013 Janice Therese Mancuso




Copyright 2007-2016 Janice Therese Mancuso
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission except when published with this credit: Excerpt from Thirty-One Days of Italians, 2015 Janice Therese Mancuso.