Noble Dreams of a Subjugated Island

dog on bed
She loves the Thuma bed

Four years ago, I published this post.

In the midst of the self-indulgent word-salad bulljive, I mentioned in passing something about noble dreams and wicked pleasures.  In other words, I touched on the time when I felt I had more of a sense of passion in my life.

So what’s changed?

Well I am now approaching 72, fast.  That’s one thing that’s different.

Passions change even more at 72.

So let’s segue to my Sicilian impasse.

As readers of this blog already know, I am toying with the idea of going with my wife in mid-September to Sicily to visit Palermo, partake of the culinary joys of San Vito Lo Capo’s cous cous festival, and reconnoiter the Tunisian situation in Mazara del Vallo, Sicily’s most Arab town.

Did you know Sicily was once ruled by Arabs?

Recently I came across this enlightening monograph, written by Michigan University’s Professor Karla Mallette. (She is also the author of Arabic and Latin in the Medieval Mediterranean, as well as  European Modernity and the Arab Mediterranean.  I’ve just ordered these books, by the way.  Can’t wait to read them!)

Salvatore Cusa
Salvatore Cusa

In the monograph, Prof. Mallette provides a translation of an excerpt from a preface to a collection of long-buried Arab manuscripts, it being written by the 19th century Palermitani Orientalist Salvatore Cusa.

The gist of it is that Arabic-language documents were shielded from exposure to the “vulgar crowds” by haughty Sicilian academics, during medieval times, when many in Sicily considered the period of “Saracenic” rule of the island to be nothing less than subjugation by the enemies of God.

I find this sort of thing fascinating.

But let’s get back to the subject of passion and my impasse.

Am I passionate about the prospect of returning to Portugal to check where we might sort of, uh, flee, in case some Nazi clown becomes POTUS in ’24?

Not exactly.

Am I passionate about the idea of going to Sicily during the famous cous cous festival in San Vito Lo Cap?

Most definitely.

Do I want to admire classic Arab architecture in Palermo?

You betcha.

Does the idea of strolling along the Kasbah and the corniche in Mazara del Vallo tickle me pink?

You know it does.

All of it, thrice over.

So it’s really not a dilemma or impasse, now, is it?

I have to come clean about this:  for the moment at least, Sicily is indeed my current passion; my noble dream; my wicked pleasure.


Not so much.

But passions can change fast.

They can be so fleeting.

Especially after reading this writeup from someone who attended the cous cous festival in 2018:

“I was in San Vito from the 10th to the 22nd of September. During the Cous cous fest the town becomes a sort of “Rimini”, with music on the beach from 3pm onwards, which became very loud techno/disco music from 11pm to 1.30am on Friday and Saturday. The other days the techno/disco music played until half past midnight. This happened with a special permission from the police, as the Comandante explained to me. The food is not really good. For 10 euros you can get much better stuff in any “bar” or “tavola calda”. Before and during the Cous cous fest, garbage has remained for days outside the house (Via Meli), even though I took great care in following the detailed instructions provided by the authorities and repeated every evening (in Italian of course) by a car with a loudspeaker. Dogs, cats, and goats could repeatedly enjoy the rests of our meals and we could enjoy the sight of broken garbage bags. The beach was almost every day full of seaweeds and other rests from the sea. It seems that neither the municipality nor the persons who rent the beach umbrellas are responsible for cleaning the beach, which I thought is a regular service in touristic areas (at least I have seen it on the Adriatic coast). Even though the sun, the food and the people were nice, I won’t go again to San Vito Lo Capo.”


Since I loathe the vulgarity of holiday crowds in general, and am particularly uncomfortable in,  as well as wary of, the sort of environments described above….

maybe the Silver Coast is the place for us after all.


smiley with glasses







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.