I was talking to a friend earlier about Sicily, that most beautiful of places, and remembered that I still have some episodes of the wonderful Italian television series Inspector Montalbano to see. It’s part luxury DVD moment and part holiday photo album for anyone who, like me, is a bit addicted to Italy in general and Sicily in particular. In case you don’t know, Inspector Montalbano is a brilliant, Sherlock Holmesian unraveller of criminal mysteries, determined to avoid promotion so that he can stay in his hometown, who can blame him, where he can not only solve crimes but enjoy his other passion, Sicilian cuisine. You just have to love the man.
Sadly, I have just three more episodes to watch before I start to watch them as repeats but, before then, I’ve had the extra pleasure discovering that Italian TV (RAI) have made a new series covering the career of Montalbano as a young man. It’s recently screened here in the UK on BBC4 and i have recorded it for winter, fire-side viewing.
Whether Inspector Montalbano is young or old (well, oldish), and great as both actors are in their roles, they are not the real stars of the show.
Who is the star then? The TV shows are based on veteran Sicilian author, Andrea Camilleri’s crime novels set, of course in his native Sicily.
Signor Camilleri, a lover of deduction, Sicilian cuisine and cigarettes, is now in his late eighties but still writing so hopefully the run of Montalbano stories is far from over. Loving the stories, as I do, I have to thank Andrea Camilleri for giving me my regular Sicilian fix, but he is not the real star either.
The simple truth is, I love the Montalbano series (books and TV shows) because I just love Sicily and, after taking a highly memorable holiday three years ago, I watch the shows and read the books as a way of staying in touch with the place.
I stayed in the Northern town of Cefalù where I soon felt myself at home even claiming my section of the beach every morning to practice kungfu. I often fantasised about living in one of those old house on the beach where the sea is always warm and where the sun sets in full Mediterranean splendour.
This brings me to my point about the real star of the Montalbano series. It is not just Sicily itself but, more than anything or anyone, it is the house used in the series as Inspector Montalbano’s home.
I need someone to buy me this house as I have decided that this is where I am meant to live. It is in a little town called Punta Secca so, please, friendly millionaire looking to make someone very happy, this is the place for me. I know it’s not for sale and that it’s now a bed and breakfast establishment but, sorry, current owners, one day, it will be mine.
It is the ideal place to live and to entertain alfresco with its all-around-the-house balcony …
… it has the sea on the doorstep for those early morning swims…
… and where else would I rather be when the sun sets? Nowhere.
No wonder Inspector Montalbano solves all those crimes – he has paradise to help him gather his thoughts. I promise, Sicily, if I could live there then I would solve all your crimes too. But until then, I just have to watch it on TV.
My novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love, was published on 31 October 2013. It is the story of a young fogey living in Brighton in 1967 who has a lot to learn when the flowering hippie counter culture changes him and the world around him.
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