The other day I got an email from Eszter Vajda about the You, Me and Sicily project she’s working on with Alfred Zappala. The You, Me and Sicily project is a series of short video documentaries all about Sicily – just the thing if you’d like to visit Sicily.
At present there are 31 episodes. There are many, many more in the pipeline, producer and co-presenter, journalist Eszter Vajda tells me. So far, the You, Me and Sicily videos have attracted over 9,500 fans on Facebook.
I watched one of the You, Me and Sicily videos, and then another. I found them absolutely fascinating and am very happy Ms Vajda wrote to tell me about them. I have yet to visit Sicily but hope to do so in the not too distant future. You might even see me in one of the future episodes of You, Me and Sicily.
The other member of the You, Me and Sicily team is American Alfred Zappala. As you might have guessed from his surname, Mr Zappala has Italian roots.
To find out more about You, Me and Sicily, I asked Ms Vajda a few questions and here are her answers:
Why did you decide to do You, Me and Sicily? When did you start and when will you finish?
Alfred Zappala has been coming back and forth from US to Sicily for past 20 years and has written four books on Sicily. All four of his grandparents are Sicilian.
We met in 2013 at his brother’s radio show called the Sicilian Corner where I was guest hosting and was so impressed with his stories from Sicily and his non- profit (The Sicilian Project – teaching English to children across the island in summer camps- we educate about 200 children a year, just planting seeds in a place that has approximately 35 % unemployment ), that I asked him to come on my TV show (I have been a TV journalist for over 15 years mostly covering politics and public affairs).
We met several times after the show and planned to do 6 episodes on Sicily during the summer of 2014. At the end of the six I said to Alfred “I am not finished here”! Today we are at 31 episodes !
I was born in Hungary and travelled extensively my entire life as well as lived in Israel and Brazil before arriving to the US at the age of 14. I have done documentaries on India, Haiti and Singapore. I fell in love with Sicily and her people that first summer and instead of 1 month, I stayed until October ( I am dual citizen). Sicily got in my blood stream. It turns our there are lots of similarities between the Hungarian people and Sicilians (we have both been conquered by many, are fighters , survivors , ohhh and some of the foods are incredibly similar. This project encompasses everything I love as a person and a journalist: history, culture, people, travel and more.
How many have you done so far and how many more are in the pipeline?
31 episodes! And as I often tell people: its endless here… there are so many stories to tell that we do not see and end to publishing mini- episodes anytime soon and also plan to soon put much of the footage together in to a documentary style piece.
Who’s funding these videos?
We have had several Kickstarter campaigns as well as GoFundMe campaigns like this one. We also have personal and corporate sponsors but mostly this covers travel and equipment costs. Of course we are looking to expand in this area as our audience is increasing exponentially!
Have you contacted Netflix etc for a distribution deal?
No, we have not but we are being broadcast on BONKO-TV, Si Italia TV in NY, The Food Channel (on line only), but mostly we have our YouTube channel. This is another area we plan on expanding this year!
May I publish two or three of your videos?
We would be delighted is you published all of them? I can’t pick a favorite they are all my babies, we put many hours into each episode!
There is a wide spectrum of stories besides food, cooking, culture, history and everyday life we did 2 more serious pieces one on the the anti-mafia during anniversary of assassination of Judges Givanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino and attended an event where President Mattarella spoke and another about the migrant crisis.
As you will discover if you watch Alfred Zappala and Eszter Vajda’s videos, and I heartily recommend that you do, the subjects covered are extremely diverse. Not only are the topics interesting, they also show off the incredible beauty of this sometimes maligned Italian island. I certainly wanted to visit Sicily after seeing only a few of the You, Me and Sicily episodes.
Well, hopefully I’ve whetted your appetite to the point that you’ll now want to see a couple of You, Me and Sicily videos, so here are episodes 1 and 2:
Visit Sicily with Episode 1 of “You, Me & Sicily!” – Godmother of Sicilian Cooking!
Episode 2 “You, Me & Sicily!” – Benvenuti in Sicilia!
Seeing as Messrs Zappala and Vajda are happy for me to do so, I’ll be running more episodes of You, Me and Sicily on Italy Chronicles. This should help increase the visibility of this worthwhile project.
If you cannot wait, then check out You, Me and Sicily on Youtube. Then again, you can always go visit Sicily for yourself.
Personally, I’d like to see similar projects in every single region of Italy. I think they’d do wonders for Italy’s economy too.
Thinking about it, You, Me and Sicily’s videos may well be of use to Italians learning English. Win-win for everyone.