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I love Inspector Montalbano

Updated on March 29, 2015
Salvo Montalbano
Salvo Montalbano

Salve, Salvo!

I have a passion for a handful of fictional detectives. Salvo Montalbano is one of them.

He's a terrific detective, smart, suave and constantly keeping ahead of his media-dazzled superiors.

Montalbano sees to the heart of a case almost intuitively, much the same way as he approaches his food, concentrating fully on each tiny factor as well as the overall picture.

Il Commissario is as committed to finding the ultimate meal as he is to solving crime. His character summarises much of what is stereotypical of Sicily and, although there's very little of the Mafia, there's lots of delicious regional food.

Commissario Montalbano
Commissario Montalbano

This isn't Cinema Paradiso

Montalbano lives by the beach where he goes for a swim every morning. It's almost a trademark, this opening scene with Montalbano swimming strongly as the credits roll.

Appropriately refreshed he then heads out to tackle crime in Sicily before deciding what he should have for lunch.

The plots, always entertaining, aren't some rerun of Cinema Paradiso, they touch upon contemporary issues of immigration and unemployment while Montalbano has to contend with a political administration more concerned about media profiles than state administration.

Montalbano is filmed entirely in South Eastern Sicily

The character of Salvo Montalbano was created by Italian writer Andrea Camilleri in a series of novels and short storie

Since 1999, RAI - Radiotelevisione Italiana, the Italian public service broadcaster, has produced a television series based on the novels, with. Montalbano played by Luca Zingaretti. The series is almost entirely shot in the Sicilian cities of Ragusa and Porto Empedocle.

The Snack Thief

This is one of my special favourites. It's hard to choose just one book out of the Montalbano series, but I recommend this one for an introduction to Il Commissario.

The Snack Thief combines the best of everything in the Montalbano mysteries, an engrossing plot weaving more than one crime (or are they crimes?), while death comes to an elevator. Here are the local police force regulars we've come to enjoy, lots of good food and a relationship crisis with Livia.

Racism, terrorism and corruption at high levels run side by side with a small mystery around a little boy and a pressing personal problem for Montalbano.

The Famous Pasta Norma

Traditional Sicilian Pasta alla Norma
I'm a great fan of Inspector Montalbano, the fictional detective created by Andrea Camilleri. Montalbano loves his food and there's always a mention, in alm...

Montalbano and Pasta Norma

"'Why don't you stay and eat with me?"

Montalbano felt his stomach blanch. Signora Clementina was sweet and nice, but she probably lived on semolina and boiled potatoes.

"Actually, I have so much to do ....."

"Pina, the housekeeper, is an excellent cook, believe me. She's made Pasta alla Norma, you know, the one with fried eggplant and ricotta salata."

"Jesus!" said Montalbano, sitting back down.

The Snack Thief (Inspector Montalbano Mysteries)

The long lunches

Frequent, large and lavish

It's with great gusto that author Andrea Camilleri writes about food. Montalbano always has a nice long lunch and Camilleri doesn't fail to describe every dish.

Montalbano is happy to confess that he is both glutton and gourmand, and we get to know all about the his finicky tastes. Whether his food is prepared at home by his housekeeper, Adelina, or enjoyed in restaurants, the meals are frequent, large and lavish.

A true lover of good food, Montalbano likes to eat alone so that he can savour the experience without distractions such as mobile phones or, even worse, conversation.

Catarella and Fazio

Catarella and Fazio
Catarella and Fazio | Source

Catarella (Angelo Russo), on the left, answers the phone at the Police Station. He's a little slow and manages to garble messages and mistake the names of visitors. For all that, he's a whiz on the computer when he's not collecting some snails for his aunt to cook. Catarella is the light comic relief when crimes weigh heavily.

Fazio (Peppino Mazzotta), on the right, is Montalbano's right hand man and general secretary. Fazio speed types interviews as they happen, memorises telephone numbesr and can lay his hands on every birth, baptism, death, marriage and motor registration in Sicily in two minutes flat. He's quietly spoken, well mannered and always a gentleman.

Like all of Montelbano's men, he's intensely loyal to il Commissario.

Catarella in Action

22 seconds of another Catarella mishap


Mimi Augello
Mimi Augello

Augello

Mimi Augello is a fabulously fussy, self-engrossed detective.

He's a ladies' man, beautifully dressed and beautifully coiffed, charming every lady he comes across in a day's work.

His love life is usually hectic and he has a propensity to bare his soul to Montalbano until all hours of the morning.

Augello is played to self-important perfection by Cesare Bocci.

Chronica

Dr. Pasquano

Dr. Pasquano launches into a tirade about his job, especially when he gets early morning calls to look at dead bodies. What else could he do on a beautiful morning? It's his pleasure to tramp over rocks before breakfast to answer some stupid questions about the time of death from callous policemen

He fails to elicit any sympathy from Montalbano.

Port Empedocle - Fictional town of Vigata

Vigata, where Montalbano solves crime and partakes of fine food, is Port Empedocle, the birthplace of author Camilleri.

In 2003, the town officially changed its name to Porto Empedocle Vigata, in honour of Inspector Montalbano

Ragusa - Used as a location for the fictional Vigata

Montalbano sono!

These two words are the stock opening to another mystery.

Montalbano, with a marked Sicilian inflection, answers the phone like this, and often follows with one of his favourite expressions ....

A cu pigghi pi fissa? Are you pulling my leg? As an Australian I thoroughly enjoy this everyday ironic sentence.

Watch Montalbano

Television episodes

If you want to watch some of the episodes made for television, you can go to Montalbano.tv and click on the Collezione link to the TV episodes in full.

If you have broadband.... and can understand what the characters are saying.

I need the sub-titled versions myself.

Bed and Breakfast Sicily

The stunningly beautiful town of Ragusa, used extensively in the filming of the Montalbano television series. What a dream! I want to migrate!

New - Not So Subtle Tastes of Sicily - Two new recipe books I have on my kindle

Made in Sicily
Made in Sicily

The wonderfully enthusiastic Giorgio Locatelli, master chef, and his own recipes based on the bounty of Sicilia. Glorious.

 
Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily
Southern Italian Desserts: Rediscovering the Sweet Traditions of Calabria, Campania, Basilicata, Puglia, and Sicily

Oh my! Mouth watering moments now on my Kindle! I can't review it at Amazon yet but, believe me, I already give it 5 stars

 

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Stai parlannu cu mmia? : Are you talking to me? seems to be a Sicilian stock phrase. What a chuckle it is to hear in its original language. In Italian it's Stai parlando con me (I think)

Every comment received is very much appreciated

© 2010 Susanna Duffy

Leave a Clue for Montalbano - Stai parlannu cu mmia?

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      Jonathan Cahm 2 years ago

      Thanks for setting up a Montalbano web page. I have found very little content in English having discovered this wonderful series. I seem to be addicted! (oh havn't even started on the books yet - bought the first one today...)

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      asimoviain 3 years ago

      @SusannaDuffy: I know I know, although I've got a little-huge help. My father's been reading them for ages. He went to an italian school and has been teaching himself sicilian since. He's not able to speak it really good, yet he can understand it almost perfectly.

      I really don't think I'll be able to do this in short time, so I guess I'll have to read them now in spanish and be patient learning the language :) . I tend to get over-enthusiastic with new things, but that's my drive for learning.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image
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      Susanna Duffy 3 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      @asimoviain: You'll have some difficulty reading the original books as they're written in Sicilian, not Italian

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      asimoviain 3 years ago

      I came to know the series through my father, but I started paying attention when he watched the 'il giovane Montalbano' miniseries.

      I'm already loving it ! I don't know how, but it's become one of the best things on my week. The landscapes and stories are so addictive that Montalbano is now my motivation to learn italian (with a little help from my father) while trying to read the original books.

      Refreshing ! I totally agree with the article, and although I've already been to Sicily, I feel like I've got to return again for an indefinite time !

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      I don't think I've ever seen this, but it sounds very good! Fun that he is after food at the same time. Thanks for sharing this. I'll try to watch it.

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