Festa della Stigghiola Palermitana

Some of you may think that the words “goat intestines” and “party” don’t go together.

Stigghiola! Yum Yum!But for those of us in “La Stigghiola Palermitana,” eating roasted goat intestines is the very soul of the party. Yes, stigghiola is a Sicilan dish made by roasting animal innards. It tastes kind of like fried calamari without the crispy crust…

It all began as a Facebook group that our cousin Filippo started. But unlike most lame sauce Facebook groups that don’t actually DO anything, this group has taken getting together from the virtual world to the real world.

Under the wise leadership of the seven board members, including Filippo, the Gran Maestro himself, the group meets regularly to eat, drink and be merry. And, of course, munch on a lil’ goat gut.

Our cousins enjoying their pizzasWhile in Sicily, we were honoured to attend a gathering at a pizzeria just down the street from Nat’s flat. There everyone, including kids as young as 4, ordered a whole pizza per person. And no, they are not small, “personal pizzas.” They are gigantic. It’s a rite of passage for an Italian boy to eat an entire pizza himself.

After the meal, as we sat comatose from the pizza, the room began to fill with smoke. I was about to get worried, when they informed me that they were just heating the brick oven to incredible temperatures for our beloved stigghiola. When it arrived, everyone’s forks and fingers flew to the communal plate. And then the ceremony’s began.

stigghola-award.jpgDonned in hat, cape and badge, Filippo began to award certificates to new members. Dan and I proudly went forward to recieve our “award of merit for having diffusing the tradition of stigghiola in Europe and the world!” I’ll drink to that!

Sicilia di nuovo

Porto di PalermoCan you find Nat & Anna?Can you find Nat & Anna?

Right now we’re back in Sicily, where our blog began. We’ve been staying with Nat, who is studying abroad here. We’ve been exploring the city, eating amazing fresh food (like olive oil straight from the trees our zio tends), and chillin’ with the famiglia. Last night we enjoyed live jazz at Kalhesa, a cool bar that’s inside the old walls of Palermo. Dan even got a visit from the tooth fairy (more on that later). The only downside is that we seem to have brought rainy weather with us from England, but we’re praying for sunshine!Porto di PalermoPorto di PalermoPorto di PalermoPorto di Palermo

Porto di Palermo

Working in the Vineyard

Zio and his vineyard

One of the highlights of our trip to Sicily this past May was working in Dan’s zio’s vineyard. He grows grapes for wine on the southern coast of Sicily outside a little town called Menfi.  I felt like I’d stepped inside one of Jesus’ parables.

Jesus words from John 15:5 came to my mind: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” And this truth was so obviously visible as we picked off brown and dead branches from the vines. Those dead branches could do nothing.

The pruning that was more difficult was that of the lovely green sprouts growing below the graft.  They look so nice and healthy! Yet they don’t give off the desired fruit.

It’s just like us. Out of my own strength I can often produce “good looking” fruit.  But it’s not the real thing.  But thankfully, since “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24) I am free to walk in the Spirit.

So, sometimes, I have to painfully wrench myself from seemingly good green growth. But the beautiful news is that I don’t have to work myself to death to bear fruit – I just have to remain in Him and I’ll “bear much fruit.”

…I’m just trying to remember I’m in Him and He’s in me.

Sicily by Numbers


1 – number of Gucchi-clad motorcyclists who hit our 9 passenger van while in Sicily

70 – number of gallons of olive oil Dan’s Sicilan family owns

40 – number of gallons of olive oil the 4-person family consumes in a single year

7 – number of times a day we are offered an espresso

60 – percentage of Sicilian teenage boys who have a big CZ stud earing

5 – number of times we got lost driving to the airport

102 – number of bottles of homemade VINO in Dan’s zia & zio’s house

8 – number of cars or vespas that drove down the walkways in la piazza magione

4 – number of times a day a someone complains about being hot while wearing a jean jacket in 80+ degree weather

38 – number of cigarettes that the average Sicilian smokes each day

40 – percentage of houses that aren’t yet finished

60 – house number where Dan’s nonna & nonno lived