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Sicilian Cultural Arcana
Exploring the "invisible" side of Sicilian life and society

The Dark Side?    Every place has its hidden side, full of things unknown to most outsiders. Arcane practices, customs and circumstances that over time become institutionalized "secrets." Has somebody "in denial" ever told you that something "just doesn't exist" and then, after searching zealously, you found a lengthy article or two on the internet dedicated to that very topic? Or maybe someone having a "vested interest" in something insisted on an idea too ridiculous to be taken seriously?
    Social complexities are a fact of life, and in Sicily they are extremely complex. You can't get a complete picture of any place without exploring at least a small part of its hidden side, which invariably includes a few grains of bad mixed in among the good or merely esoteric. Every society has its grittier side, but here we link to articles about Sicilian arcana in general. Whatever you think about these topics, they are rarely dull.
    They aren't actually very secret, considering that the Sicilian press writes about many of them on a regular basis. Without exaggerating, we might even refer to much of it as "The Dark Side" that Italy's journalists love to report—but you have to read Italian proficiently to understand what they're writing. Like it or not, social classes, obscure traditions, business practices, sex, crime and politics are things that—like history, arts, literature and cuisine—distinguish any culture, making it what it is. More importantly, these are things to consider if you plan to spend more than a few weeks dealing with that culture, perhaps on a regular basis.
    While they necessarily mention the Mafia in passing, most publishers of destination guides fear these topics; we obviously don't. Rest assured that nobody else who publishes a destination guide for Sicily even touches more than two or three of these subjects, though some of the following subjects have influenced Sicilian literature. Agree or disagree, here they are: the good, the bad and the ugly...

Real Sicilians - A glimpse of the people of Sicily today.

Sicilian Language - A tongue spoken since the 12th century.

Who Runs Sicily? - It's a little more complicated than what the guide books and officials tell you.

Living and Working in Sicily - Information for expatriates.

The Sicilian Region - Sicily has been politically autonomous since 1946, for better or worse.

The Mafia - Organized crime rooted in the latter decades of the eighteenth century.

Fascism in Sicily - It led to war and then liberation, but it's a seemingly verboten topic when Italians talk to foreigners about Italy.

The Second World War in Sicily - The conflict that brought democracy to Italy.

Historic Revisionism - Setting the record straight following a century of official misinformation.

Risorgimento Revisited - Italy's most misunderstood political movement.

Universities in Sicily - The ascent of mediocrity, nepotism, cronyism and worse.

University Student Life in Sicily - Welcome to the jungle.

Street Protests - Not to worry... The revolution breaks for lunch.

Political Corruption - Tangenti, bustarelle, mazzette - all Italian words for bribe and pay-off.

Job Preferments - Raccomandazione is the Italian word for job recommendations.

Jobs in Sicily - Reality check for those seeking employment in sunny Sicily.

Nepotism - A practice so commonplace in Italy that it's considered normal.

Real Jobs Wanted! - In 2012 Sicilian youth unemployment (of people under 34) was reported at over 35% (!) but it has been chronically high for years.

Charlatans - Lack of professionalism is a serious problem, or should at least be viewed as one.

Popolino - Sicily's large underclass, comprising as much as 40% (yes, forty percent) of the population.

Nobility - The 1% (or less), the aristocracy today.

Marriage in Sicily - Husbands, wives, lovers.

Sex in Sicily - Focus is on profiles and trends rather than the explicit.

Foreign Brides Invade Sicily - Where East meets West?

Rustic Engagements - Fuitina, matrimonio combinato, fidanzati in casa. Sicily's bizarre courtship rituals still exist, kind of.

Births Outside Marriage - Close to 20% in Sicily, and perhaps 30% in Italy nationally.

Divorce in Sicily - Breaking up is hard to do.

Sicilian Boyfriends - Descriptions based on typical profiles.

Italian Law and You - Italian justice and democracy in action.

The Two Sicilies - We love Italy, but Sicily existed as a distinct nation long before 1861 and is still very, well, Sicilian. Here's why.

Sicilian Identity - If you wanted to be or become Sicilian, this would be a good place to begin.

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