A thing I learned in Sicily

Ciao bellisimas! God I hate people who do that – go to Italy for five seconds and return saying ciao this and ciao that as if they were Il Duce himself. Get a grip you moron. You grew up in Surrey.

Anyway, I’m just back from a week in Sicily and I can’t tell you everything that happened because it’s for a story. But basically I loved every second and I ate all the pasta. All the pasta in Sicily. I pulled my jeans on this morning and it took me 10 minutes to get them over my knees. Sophia Loren never seemed to have that problem.

A quick social observation though: over this past weekend I was in Palermo staying with an incredibly chic family who live in a palazzo there with a van Dyck in the dining room. Everyone seems to have a palazzo in Palermo. There are 1500 of them in the city. ‘This is Roberto,’ said the lady I was staying with, introducing me to a friend of hers at a party over the weekend. ‘He owns the palazzo in front of mine.’ Turns out Roberto actually owns 20 palazzos. I went round a ruined one in the dark with him. Dust on the floor, 17th century frescos on the ceilings. Amazing.

Whatever. This observation. On Friday night, we went to listen to a concert in the socking great big cathedral in Palermo where various Italian nobles were gathered (I know using the word ‘nobles’ makes me sound like a crawler of the highest order, but it is basically a medieval court out there so it’s appropriate). Someone introduced me to a Venetian doge, Venice’s version of a duke, so I stuck my hand out to shake it whereupon he took it, then sort of bent down and did a little bow.

How sweet of him to bow, I chuckled to myself. I mean I know I’m English and work for Tatler but I’m hardly royalty.

And then it happened again with the doge’s son, who was all of 10 years old. I stuck my hand out and HE bent over and did a little bow.

‘What is going on?’ I whispered to an English chap who was in the same house party. ‘Why are they all bowing to me?’

‘They’re not bowing, they’re kissing your hand,’ he said, before explaining, quite slowly, as if I had learning problems, that certain poshos in Europe still take a woman’s hand and kiss it when they meet. Or at least if not *actually* plant their lips on the back of a woman’s hand, they’ll lean down and look as if they’re going to kiss it.

So that’s my big news. Jeremy Corbyn may be insisting the umpteenth stage of Marxism is upon us in Liverpool but Disney practices are still alive and well in pockets of continental Europe.