Thursday, 14 February 2019

Buon San Valentino! Here's a Sicilian Valentine's gift especially for you.

Buon San Valentino a tutti!

We want to wish you a very lovely Valentine's Day! No matter where you are in the world & no matter who you're spending your day with, here at Sicilian Connections we are all connected by our mutual love for the island of Sicily.

So, here's a short video of Sicily as our gift to you on this special day.......enjoy!
Tanti auguri! Leave a comment and let us know if you enjoyed the video.

A presto,

Debra Santangelo

Monday, 11 February 2019

{Video} Introduction to Pietro Santangelo

Buongiorno a tutti!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I've had so many messages saying how much you enjoyed last week's video so today I want to introduce my husband and co-founder of Sicilian Connections, Pietro Santangelo.

The beginning of the video is in Italian for those of you who speak the language and the second part is in English - enjoy!
I hope you're enjoying getting to know the people behind the scenes of Sicilian Connections.

We love to hear about the people in our community so please leave us a comment and tell us a little about yourself.

Buona giornata!

Debra Santangelo

P.S. - Don't forget to join us over on Facebook for lots of beautiful photos and intriguing stories about Sicily. Just click on the photo below -

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

{Video} Grazie a tutti - I'm so excited for what's to come!

Buongiorno a tutti!

I hope you're having a wonderful week. I recorded a short video for you yesterday as we have had many new people join our community over the past few weeks and I wanted to take the opportunity to reintroduce myself.

Sicilian Connections has been active since 2004 and so many of you have been on this journey with us from the very start. This video is also my way of thanking you for being such an integral part of the Sicilian Connections community and to let you know that there are many exciting things coming up over the next couple of months!

Do you enjoy sometimes watching videos rather than always reading the blog posts?
Let me know and I may make a more regular appearance :-)

A presto!

Debra Santangelo

P.S. Have you joined our Facebook group yet? Come and join us by clicking here. We share lots of beautiful photos and intriguing stories about Sicily!

Monday, 28 January 2019

How to Make Italian Hot Chocolate!

Buongiorno! I hope you had a wonderful weekend. The days are definitely getting longer and brighter here but the frost is showing up daily to remind us that we are still in the middle of winter! Over the weekend, my family and I made some delicious hot chocolate and I promised our lovely Sicilian Connections Facebook members that I would share the recipe.

You may be wondering what the difference is between a hot chocolate drink in Italy and one, for example, in the USA or UK and I can tell you that when I first tasted a 'cioccolata calda' in Sicily I fell in love with its rich consistency and indulgent taste. 

We lived in Milan for a while before we had our daughters and the winters in Northern Italy can be so cold! I remember sitting all huddled up in our favourite cafe with a steaming hot mug of this velvety drink and feeling so cosy and content. In Italian bars you can actually get a seemingly endless choice of hot chocolate flavours including coconut, pistacchio and chilli!

Here's the recipe to make this hot chocolate at home. 
Be sure to let us know how it goes!

Ingredients (to make 2 small cups of thick hot chocolate) -

1 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of whipping cream
7 ounces of good quality cooking chocolate
1 tablespoon of sugar 
1 teaspoon of cornflour (cornstarch)

1) Heat the milk, cream and sugar over a low heat and stir until it reaches simmering point.

2) Break the chocolate into the pan and whisk until all of the chocolate melts.

3) In a separate bowl combine the cornflour with a little milk then add to the pan mixture.

4) Continue to stir for approx. 3 mins until the mixture reaches the desired thickness.

5) Pour into cups and enjoy! You can also top with whipping cream but I prefer to savour the chocolate all on its own!

Have a wonderful day, amici. 

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? If not, be sure to head over to Sicilian Connections - La Piazza and join our rapidly growing community of Sicily lovers across the world!

A presto,


Sicilian Connections

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Homes on Sale for 1 Euro in Sambuca di Sicilia

When Leonardo Ciaccio, the mayor of Sambuca di Sicilia (a rural town in the Sicilian province of Agrigento) launched a new housing scheme he had no idea that it would have such an impact across the world.

The governor was simply hoping for an innovative way to repopulate this majestic city and he dreamed of enticing expatriated Sicilians back to their ancestral birthplace. Little did he know that the project would be picked up by the US news channel CNN and become viral across the internet!

In a recent article for an Agrigento website, Sr. Ciaccio told how he had spent the morning showing Japanese and American tourists around the enchanting Italian town. In fact the town has been receiving requests from across the globe, including Switzerland, Spain, France and Germany, and over ten homes have already been sold.

My interest in this event has been steadily growing but peaked yesterday when I received several emails asking me for my opinion on this interesting project. I've decided to write this article in order to help my loyal followers make an informed decision on the matter.

My 'Sicilian Ghost Story', a blog from many years ago, was actually based on Sambuca di Sicilia and you can read it here to get a better feel of the town and its unique past. However, don't let yourself be put off by the ghostly apparitions and spooky legends! This city has much to offer and its rich Arabic history has woven its way intrinsically into the magic of the town.

Sambuca di Sicilia is situated on a hilltop with views reaching as far as Mount Etna on a clear day. It is surrounded by breathtaking countryside and has rolling vineyards that take you all the way down through the resort of Menfi to the spectacular Mediterranean coastline. Just over an hour's drive will take you to the island's capital of Palermo which offers flights to the main airports across the world.

While this offer may seem too good to be true, I want to make you aware of the project's small print. In order to buy your home for one euro you must commit to spending at least 15,000 euro over the next 3 years on the property's restoration and also put down a deposit of 5,000 euro.

Therefore, while the purchase will definitely cost you more then one euro, it could be the perfect way to get your foot on the Italian property ladder and allow you to revisit your 'Sicilian Connections'!

I also want to point out that Sambuca di Sicilia isn't the first Sicilian town to introduce a project of its kind. Several other cities around the island have similar schemes running and I've actually put together a short document showing you the various options so that you can make an educated decision.

The contact details for the Sambuca di Sicilia scheme are also included in this directory for you together with a list of available houses!

>> Click here for your free guide! <<

I hope this post has helped you understand the situation better. Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have and be sure to click the 'follow' button to stay updated with the latest news from Sicilian Connections.

Have a wonderful day!

Sicilian Connections

Thursday, 17 January 2019

Felice Anno Nuovo! My New Year Stories of Mount Etna & La Befana.

Buongiorno a tutti! This is our first blog post of the year and I would like to take a moment to wish you and your family a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2019. We had such a lovely Christmas and it's been truly enjoyable to take some time out from the hustle of daily life and spend time together as a family.

If you have your own 'Sicilian Connections' or even if you've simply been following the news, you will be aware that we have also had some worrying times over the past couple of months.

Our family in Adrano and Nicolosi spent several nights out on the street after being woken from their sleep by shaking beds and moving furniture. Mount Etna has certainly been very active lately and this has caused a frightening number of earthquakes throughout the region.

The province of Catania is used to living in the shadow of the fiery mountain and my husband even laughs how he and his friends used to go and play football near the flowing lava when they were young. However, the latest tremors have definitely caused concern and even the older generations can only remember a slight quivering of the light shades many years ago; nothing compared to the violent earthquakes that have been occurring over the past few months.

We are all praying that Etna has now got rid of any lingering anger and has finally settled down for a long winter's nap!

We were very happy that La Befana made a visit to our home on the eve of the Epiphany and our daughters were so pleased with the presents she left them. Does La Befana come to your home on her broom every year? I would love to hear about your stories and traditions.

If you would like to learn more about the Italian tradition of La Befana you should hop over to my earlier blog Buon Anno Nuovo and watch the good witch herself tell her enchanting story.

I'm very excited for 2019 as we have lots of lovely things happening over the next few months. If you feel like you want to get more involved in our Sicilian Connections community then definitely watch this space (& click 'follow' for new blog notifications).

I wish you a happy day or a 'buona giornata' and look forward to speaking to you again very soon!

A presto,

Sicilian Connections

Monday, 22 December 2014

Caltagirone Nativity Scenes and Sicilian Christmas Cookies!

Buona sera a tutti! I hope that you are all well and enjoying the run up to the Christmas festivities! In Sicily, preparations are well underway for the traditional Nativity scenes that appear across the island in the month of December.

One city in particular that attracts thousands of visitors each year to its Nativity displays is Caltagirone. This Baroque town in the province of Catania has long been famous for its beautiful pottery, in particular its ceramics and terracotta, and actually takes its name from the Arabic words for 'Hill of Vases'. The city's main landmark is the staircase of Santa Maria del Monte which was built in 1608 in the old section of the town. Each of the staircase's 142 steps is adorned with different hand-decorated ceramics using varying styles and figures from the town's ancient tradition of pottery making. To celebrate Caltagirone's Patron Saint 'San Giacomo', or St. James, on the 25th July the steps are lined with terracotta oil lamps which are lit simultaneously by hundreds of locals creating a spectacular effect.

For the month of December the town comes alive with beautiful Nativity scenes made entirely of terracotta which are displayed throughout Caltagirone. Some residents even open their homes to show their own intricate displays. One fine example of a Nativity scene is 'Il Presepe Animato in Terracotta' which can be found in the Church of Santa Maria del Carmine. This Nativity display features moving figures and extends over 80 square metres - the largest in Italy. On the 25th and 26th December and the 6th January there will be a 'live' Nativity scene in the town's historic centre featuring more than 200 local residents dressed in costume.

Throughout the month of December there will be Christmas markets and processions in the town such as that on the 'Festa dell'Immacolata' on the 8th December. For the two days prior to this feast day there is a delicious aroma throughout the town as bakeries sell the traditional 'muffulette' - a local bread made with fennel seeds.

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone - Buon Natale! I hope that all of you across the world are beginning to feel the festive spirit. Don't forget to use our recipe for Sicilian Christmas Cookies, or 'Mastazzoli' at -

A presto!


P.S. If you enjoy reading my blog please become a follower by registering at the Google 'Join this site' icon on the right of the blog page. Grazie mille for your support!!