Gretta’s love of Italy began whilst studying Russian at university in Leeds. She found the Russian language teaching ‘boring and oppressive’ and went in search of pastures new. The friendly head of the Italian department convinced her Italian was the right choice. She loved getting stuck into Dante and Petrarch. Gretta met her future (Sicilian) husband, Salvatore, at university, and this has led to an enduring bond with Italy.
“We visit family in Sicily every year, and what I love is discovering unknown areas of Italy. Most people go to cities, like Florence, Venice and Rome, which are beautiful of course. But it’s the non-obvious destinations that attract me the most. The ‘real Sicily’ is the one you find by going to the villages and seeing people’s day-to-day lives. The family home doesn’t have running water much of the time and it has walls that are nearly a metre thick.
‘Salvatore still remembers having to haul buckets of water up to the house when he was little,’ she laughs, ‘and there are so many traditions, dialects and food, which vary enormously from small place to small place. I find that fascinating’. She admits the children were widely enthusiastic about staying in a 5-star hotel in Sicily, during a recent ‘obligatory’ family visit, though. It was stylish and also had great food. ‘But it didn’t possess the same charm as our village home’, she reminisces with a sigh.