Sicilian people: mule soldiers, proof of virginity and more.


Testo in italiano


Tales of old Sicilian people

He: One time we that used to live here on Etna picked up the broom and sold it to bakers. The bread made with broom had a particular taste. The broom is the symbolic plant of the volcano.

Interview taken from the Chitichitossa program, Italian Radio Public Network, 2010. A program by Giovanni Vallone (President of Splendid Sicily) Directed by: Daria Corrias Edited by: Fabiana Carabolante

He: My name is Mazzaglia Antonino

Nar: Class?

He: 1924. I used to take the broom to Catania with the mule. Bread with broom is unique.

Nar: Was it a profitable job at the time?

He: Yes

Nar: Then you made a lot of money

He: But what money. I left at 3 am with the mule

Nar: What was his name?

He: Vito

Nar: What class are you

He: 1933

This old Sicilian people are very funny!

Nar: What is your name

He: Pulvirenti Giuseppe

Nar: What did you do?

He: First as a child I went to harvest and then before leaving for the military I  collected the Ashes of mount Etna and we did  the plasters

In those days I used to go to my grandfather and say to  him: “Nonno sa benedica ”  which mean GrandPa bless you and I kissed his hands. Those were manners .

Nar: Listen Is it true that they  called the mules in the army?

He: Yes my dad had to wall it to hide It. It was important to have a mule in a family. It was a source of income.

He: In 1939 the postcard  arrived  for Vito my mule,  to  leave as soldier..

Nar: You’re teasing me?

He: No is the truth. They brought it to Greece.


Women in the night and werewolves

Here some other accounts of Sicilian people from many parts of the inland.

Nar: What is this story that once  there were women at night?

He: It was said that there were these women who came at night and hit you. I sometimes woke up and found myself full of stains. And what do I know, if it was a true story, but what I can really tell you is  that I woke up with these stains.

Nar: Were there  werewolves in Nicolosi?

He: Once the late Turi caught in Moscow a few of these werewolves but he defended himself and chased them away.

The  nails stretched out, and here in Nicolosi there were two.

He: And us  guys were careful to see if these werewolves came out at midnight.

The proof of virginity!

He: When I got engaged to my wife I remember that on the day of the procession of Saint Anthony we went to church and then went out for a walk with her parents who followed us behind. I was arm in arm with her and at one point I put a hand on her shoulder.  Her aunt that was  following us called me from behind and said to me:   It’s not a custom to put your hand on her  shoulder. I apologized and removed it. When we arrived at her home for lunch, we sat in the dining room next to one another while my mother-in-law and  the aunts set the table. When the table was ready, my father-in-law puts his ha    nds down and made everything fly in the air. So I got scared and I put the chair in front and I thought “if he puts his hands on me I’ll break the chair on his head”. Then my mother-in-law redid the table and he told me “come on eat.” “I eat? First you have to tell me what I’ve done; did I do something to your daughter? “And he said to me:” Tell me something. If I tell you to watch out for a cherry tree and you   touch the cherries without eating them, they become soggy”. His daughter was getting soggy, I was not so supposed  to touch her!

He: My nickname  is Chiovu, who knows why, since my grandfather’s time. Pippo chiovu.

He: Mine is  Alfio loro which means they. Because when my grandfather returned from the 1915 war his head did not work well and instead of saying you he said they For example to say: what are you doing tomorrow? He said: what are they doing tomorrow? And so they put the nickname loro: Alfio loro.

He: My nickname is Turianna, because my grandmother was called Anna, my father Turi and they put me Turianna.

He: We talked about women when they got out of  the church. We sat outside and watched them.

Nar: But you and the other young people used  to go to Catania in the closed houses?

He: There were some who went there. There were 4.5 In Catania. They Were houses that there were females inside… I’ve never been there

When all the guests were gone and we were just with  the relatives, It was a custom for the husband to  pick up the wife and  take her to the master bedroom.

Then the next day there was the custom that the mother-in-law brought coffee and wanted proof of the virginity. And you would leave for her to find the sheet or a stained handkerchief on the bedside table.

Interview taken from the Baciamo Le Voci program, Italian Radio Public Network, 2007. A program by Giovanni Vallone (President of Splendid Sicily) Directed by: Daria Corrias By: Fabiana Carambolante

She: My mother-in-law came at 6 in the morning and brought us coffee and in the meantime asked her son if everything was ok, meaning if i was a virgin.

She: The following day my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law came, with the excuse of fixing the bed.

He: they came to check if there were traces on the bed

She: They brought us coffee

He: They checked: everything is  all right

Nar: Let’s take a nice souvenir photo

That’s all. Thanks to the wonderful old Sicilian people.


Birth date main characters: 1924, 1933

Place: Nicolosi / Villarosa, Catania (First wedding night radio)

Year of the interview:  2007/2010/2018

Vendors of broom, mule soldiers, “nonno sa benerica”, women  in the night, werewolves, jealousy of the girlfriend’s father, “chiovu” nickname,  “loro” nichname, “Turianna” nickname, closed houses, proof of virginity

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