Vincenza Catanese: the poet of the sea urchins


Testo in italiano


“I was born on the top floor at number 8. I spent my childhood sitting on those steps playing the five stones. That warehouse was ours and my father used to put the donkey “

My Sicily is made of its incredible history.

Populations that mix, which means culture, art, inspiration.

An island in the middle of the Mediterranean, an island that has seen  reign the Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Spaniards and Bourbons.

Yes my Sicily is made of its incredible history that becomes a temple, mosaic, fishing, agriculture.

A story that also goes into the kitchen and, as the Greek  geographer Strabone wrote  “the kitchen becomes a perfect symphony of colors”.

With the inexpensive eggplants was born the true masterpiece of popular cuisine “la caponata” .

An Etna chef created “la pasta alla Norma” for the famous Catanese musician Vincenzo Bellini: steaming pasta, tomato, fried eggplants and salted ricotta.

With fish, the pride of our sea, we prepare “i  sardi a beccaficu” wich means fig-pecker sardines, or the famous “pasta chi sardi” that is pasta with sardines: wild fennel, pine nuts and “muddica atturrata” which is toast crumb.

“Today for you I prepared the pasta with sardines and caponata”.

Archestrato, the wise men of Gela already existed, three hundred years before Christ, sang the joys of Sicilian cuisine: “take a piece of tuna cut it into slices and roast it, season with salt and grease it with oil … it will be excellent food to make the mouth  water even to the gods ”.

The legend tells us that the vine in Sicily was brought by Dionysus, god of joy and well-being.

With a blaze of ricotta and sugar we have “Sicilian cannoli” and “Sicilian cassata”, an explosion of flavor and color with its candied fruit.

But Sicily is not only cuisine, it is also sun, sea, the scent of orange blossoms, yellow  broom plants and lemons.


My Sicily is also the simplicity and hospitality of my neighbor Concetta, who does beautiful loom work.

It is “A Ucciria” which is an ancient market, Mount Etna, the Temples Valley, the Greek Theater of Syracuse, Taormina, the Palatine Chapel, the Val di Noto with the Baroque wonders, it is Piazza Armerina and its mosaics, it is the Sanctuary of Gibilmanna and of Tindari.

My Sicily is above all my country: Cefalù, nestled at the foot of the “Rocca”, home of the Giants, Cyclopses and Diana, goddess of the hunting.

With its majestic cathedral from 1131 that stands on the roofs of our houses, its medieval old town, the alleys and narrow streets, the small arches that bind a building to another, the dotted courtyards  with flowering vases, the medieval wash house, the artisans, children playing free on the street, balconies with hanging clothes.

My Sicily is also my sea urchins, caught in the Mediterranean sea, the Nostrum sea; and then delicately worked to make my jewels.

Sea jewels, Sicilian jewels.

A strange  idea, how strange are we Sicilians.

“One day when I was on the beach I saw something shine in the water, it had a wonderful color, I picked it and it was a sea urchin. Here it is, the first jewel I made with sea urchins. It takes a lot of patience with the  sea urchins because they are very very delicate ”

My Sicily are also my books, I have written many and many are still in my mind.

This is “Scents of hot bread”, dedicated to my parents and to that smell that you can never forget.

But my Sicily is above all greeting, generosity, hospitality.

The Sicilians are my Sicily.

Ros: Wet Sicilian woman?

Vin: Lucky woman!



Who is Vincenza Catanese

Vincenza Catanese, was born in 1949 in Cefalù, is a typical Sicilian figure, with so many ispirations and a great inner poetry. Poet, writer, musical author, hotelier but above all, as she says, “wife, mother and grandmother”. She invented the jewel s made with sea urchins. She lives part of the year in Cefalù and part of the year in Gibilmanna, that is a bit by the sea and a bit in the mountains.


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