Feedback from Sicily

It’s been a blast getting emails from friends around the world who saw me on the American Pickers “Sicilian Standoff” show.  Even some people I hadn’t heard from in a decade wrote, happy to finally have had an explanation as to why I’d been so out of touch—on an island, “un isola,” isolated. I felt a little less guilty about having dropped out of site to dedicate myself to my family roots. You see, before I moved to Sicily fifteen years ago, I ran a high technology company in the Pacific Northwest. Definitely fast-paced. Sicily is “a passo d’uomo,” human-paced. Slowwww.

And sometimes things backfire in Sicily. Big time. And come flying back at you faster than the speed of light(!).

You’d think that having brought a hot American television show to Ragusa, my grandfather’s birthplace, would have been greeted with applause. “A Caccia di Tesori,” Treasure Hunt, is what American Pickers is called on History Channel Italia. A great name. And hunt we did, scouring the Province of Ragusa for collectors of all types—from antique farm equipment to fine art to vintage cars and motorcycles to furniture and collectibles. It was fascinating to have been behind the scenes to see which locations Mike and Frank preferred—and why.

The Pickers scouts found so much great stuff in northern Italy that Sicily almost didn’t make the cut. I was so HAPPY when we’d been picked. That Ragusa Ibla, Modica and Ragusa Superiore were going to be broadcast internationally in a fresh, playful way. And even happier that we’d gotten an entire episode dedicated to us. That hadn’t been the original plan.
But some Ragusans didn’t like the show. One called me yesterday—SCREAMING—so upset that (1) not enough panoramic shots were shown and (2) the traffic cops stopped the Antica Archeologia van. Perchè non ci hanno fatto vedere tutta la bellezza della zona? Che vergogna che i vigili si sono comportati così! They wanted to storm Ragusa’s city hall and ask the mayor to explain. The troupe should have been accompanied by a local escort, the angry Ragusans claimed, and not have been forced to pay for hotel rooms. The city should have treated.

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It’s a fact. Authentic Sicilian hospitality is second to none. Once you’re in the door, that is. As Lisa Gerard-Sharp just wrote for CNN’s 10 Things To Know Before Visiting Sicily, “At first, Sicilians can seem sullen… but persevere and you’ll find that chill can melt into something as sweet as cassata.”

Dear Ragusa, this was a TV show—entertainment. Its producers wanted Mike and Frank to face innumerable obstacles on their Italian journey—for fun. So we’d gone into the Ragusa city hall and asked which “vigile,” traffic cop, was particularly extroverted, and found Corrado Noto. Our protagonist!

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Sicily, we LOVE you! We love your winding roads, police, tenderness, and hospitality. We delight in your very being! Pina brought Mike and Frank coffee… Carmelo loaned them his daughter. Sicily’s warm heart embraced everyone’s. : )

For anyone who wants to see the full splendor of the island, write me at sally {at} handsonsicily {dot} com

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