Tuesday 12 March 2019

Carnival time in Sicily! 🎉 {Plus new payment plan for 'Discover Your Heritage!}

Carnival time is here again, amici :-) 
For the past few weeks Italian towns have been taken over by revellers in costume, spectacular street parades and merchant stalls selling every kind of Italian delicacy. The official date of 'Carnevale' this year was the 5th March which is the traditional 40 days before Easter, however many towns were celebrating long before that!
Carnevale is the final celebration before the restrictions of Lent - in fact the term is widely recognised as originating from the Latin words 'carnem levare' or 'take away the meat'.
The festival itself is thought to have derived from the ancient Roman 'baccanali', celebrations during which drunken revellers would walk around the city with their faces painted whilst singing, yelling and performing pranks. 

Tricks and pranks are still an integral part of Carnevale, hence the saying 'a carnevale ogni scherzo vale', meaning that during carnival time any kind of mischief can be expected! The 'Carnevale di Misterbianco' is famous for its wonderful costumes such as that in the image below - modelled on an underwater wonderland! 

The large colourful floats are also thought to have taken root from ancient Roman times when citizens would hold a festival called Saturnalia to honour the god Saturn, in the hope of achieving a fruitful harvest. 

During this festival parades of floats carrying masked girls and boys would go along the streets and this tradition is still evident throughout Italy. 

The 'Carnevale di Acireale' in Sicily is world famous for the colourful paper maché floats that pass through the town and each year there is a competition for the best and most original. 

I hope you've enjoyed the photos from this year's 'Carnevale'.

Hit reply and let us know if you've ever been to an Italian 'Carnevale' or if you celebrate carnival time in your part of the world.
Have a wonderful week,

Founder and CEO - Sicilian Connections

P.S We've introduced a BRAND NEW payment plan into our 'Sicilian Connections: Discover Your Heritage' online course which starts on Monday!

We want to make it as easy as possible for you to join us in this exciting 2 week program and start diving into your Sicilian heritage.

Head over to 
>> Sicilian Connections: Discover Your Heritage

now to check out the new payment options.

The private Facebook group is already open and we've had so many members share their wonderful Sicilian stories with us already.

We would love you for you to join us! 

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Sicilian Pride and Passion Across the World!

Buongiorno! I hope you're having a wonderful week so far.

We've received an overwhelming response to our recent posts over on Facebook asking about Sicilian family members that moved over to America in the early 1900s. It's been lovely to hear the stories about your grandparents and great-grandparents and it's very obvious how passionate you all are about your Sicilian connections.

Between the years of 1861 and 1965, almost 25 million Italians left the peninsula in search of a new life. This is considered to be the biggest mass migration of contemporary times and, in Sicily, was partly due to the drop in economy and over-population experienced after the unification of Italy.
In 1906 alone, 100,000 Sicilians emigrated to the United States of America and in 1920, 87 percent of Sicilian immigrants were still headed for the US. Other countries with a significant number of Sicilian immigrants were Venezuela, Brasil, Mexico, Canada, Australia and other countries throughout Europe.

Some of the main cities in America where Sicilians settled were New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco and these immigrants tended to reside together in groups depending on the area that they came from. For example, in New Orleans there was a district called ‘Little Palermo’.

These Sicilians were so passionate about their homeland that they took many of their traditions and values with them. They believed in these customs so much that many aspects of Sicilian life have become an intrinsic part of communities worldwide and are still very much in evidence today. Throughout the year there are festivals across the world to celebrate different Sicilian traditions. The island’s way of life is echoed daily in neighbourhoods worldwide through their cuisine, language and culture, such as the music listened to or the plays seen at the theatre.

An example of a tradition which has been taken to America is the ‘Festa di Santa Rosalia’ in Brooklyn which is dedicated to the Patron Saint of Palermo. This annual festival originally took place in the first Italian parish in Brooklyn, the Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens Church in Carroll Gardens, and has since been moved to the community of Bensonhurst. The procession originally involved followers walking barefoot through the streets of the neighbourhood to show their devotion to the Saint.

Every year Italian-American merchants set up stalls at the various festivals around the country selling Sicilian specialities such as ‘cannoli’, zeppole’ and ‘arancini’ and entire communities come together to celebrate their heritage and tell stories about their ancestry. It is viewed as a real honour to belong to such a loyal and devoted community and it is this devotion that will ensure that the respect for ‘u paese vecchiu’, or the old country, will stay strong long into the future. 

I created Sicilian Connections because over the years I have met many people of Sicilian origin that, for various reasons, have emigrated and live in different locations worldwide, but the passion that they feel for their homeland has remained strong.

It was my aim to create a community where Sicilians could come together and share their wonderful stories of the island and memories of their ancestors and, thanks to the pride and devotion of our Sicilian Connections friends worldwide, this is now a reality. 
Grazie mille for being such an important part of our lives!

A presto,

Sicilian Connections

P.S. - We would really love for you to join us this month as we come together to explore our Sicilian heritage.
Between the dates of 18th and 31st March 2019, Sicilians across the world are coming together online to dive into their roots and explore their Sicilian ancestry.

We will be providing so much valuable information throughout the two weeks and will show you how to get started in your research and how to avoid making the mistakes that can set you back years.

The group is going to stay open indefinitely after the immersion has ended so, even if you're not quite ready to start your research, you can watch (& re-watch!) the videos whenever you desire.

You can also continue to connect with the other people in the group, sharing wonderful discoveries and supporting each other long after the program has ended.

>> Head over to Sicilian Connections - Discover Your Heritage now and grab your spot! Earlybird price ends in only 3 days :-) << 

Friday 1 March 2019

Ready to start exploring your Sicilian heritage? Earlybird doors are open :-)

I hope you're having a wonderful week. Today is a very special and significant day for us here at Sicilian Connections.

For many years we've been connecting with you through our blog and in our Facebook community. We've been reading the moving stories that hundreds of you have sent to us since 2004, all about your family and how important the island of Sicily is to each and every one of you.  

There's nothing that we've loved more than seeing your old photographs and hearing how your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents came over to America many many years ago, searching for a better future for their family.

Now it's finally time to reveal something that is so close to our hearts and that we have created as a way to help to connect even more to Sicily and to your ancestors who left there long ago.
Presenting, 'Sicilian Connections: Discover Your Heritage'  (watch the video below) -
We're so excited to be able to play an even bigger part in connecting you to Sicily and we have created a private, intimate space for you to share your stories and to dive even further into your Sicilian heritage. 

This two week online immersion is more than just an ancestry e-course or a group program - it's our way of thanking you for being such an important and integral part of our Sicilian Connections community. 

We are dedicated to providing you with all of the support and information that you could possibly desire to get your research started in the best possible way.

When the two weeks are over you will feel fully equipped to step into the path of your ancestors and start discovering more about their journey.....and the best thing is that we won't be closing the group after the two weeks. 

We're going to leave this space open for you to continue to access the trainings whenever needed and to share your findings with other people on the same journey as you.


The program officially starts on the 18th March but we're giving you instant access into the private Facebook group so that you can dive into the introductory videos and we can get to know you better.

We can't wait to see you on the other side!

Have a wonderful day,

Debra Santangelo 
Sicilian Connections 

P.S. - There is a FAQ section on the program page but feel free to comment below and ask me any questions that you have around the immersion. I'm here to help!

Don't miss out on the earlybird offer!

Go to 
'Sicilian Connections: Discover Your Heritage' now and start exploring your Sicilian roots!

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

P.S. - We have a BRAND NEW Christmas Guide out packed with Sicilian recipes and festive traditions!! Go to www.sicilianconnections.com to grab your copy :-)