When I lived with Sebastiano on the estate in Pollicarini, the farmhand took care of the she-asses that he co-owned with my family. We didn’t have to worry about the condition of the animals, and the farmer looked after them as if they were his family members. He curried them often. You could see their good health from the brilliance of their coats.

Whenever he took one of the she-asses out from the stable, they both brayed, pawed the ground, and got restless. They couldn’t endure being parted. Later on, after they were reunited, they showed their happiness by smelling each other.

Was that love? Why shouldn’t it be considered love? Love for friends or partners belongs to the nature of all creatures. It can be considered a gift of nature. There is no difference between animals and human beings when it comes to love.

In some species love is stronger than humans. There are many animals that are monogamous. The pre-eminent monogamous species is the emperor penguin, but there are many other birds and a few mammals with strong dispositions to love. The mandarin ducks, also called loving birds, have only one union in their life. When one of the mates dies, the other won’t accept another partner and remains alone for the rest of its life.

The logical corollary of what I expounded on above is that the love we have for our children, our friends, and our relatives doesn’t add any merit to our being, because the feelings we express don’t depend upon our free will and heart. We just instinctively express a kind of love that is not dissimilar to that of animals.

Real love is different—it is unconditional and universal. It goes beyond a couple’s love. It has nothing to do with the group, family, or clan one belongs to. Human love is usually on mutual terms: “I’ll love you if you love me.” Even parental love, which is the strongest, is subject to reciprocity. If a child is disrespectful or aggressive against their parents, they stop loving their child to the point that they can throw their child out of their home. The same happens in the animal kingdom, where the mother loves her cubs until they start competing with her. In that case, separation is inevitable…

Excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind





The story, written by Hans Christian Andersen, is about an ugly duckling that looked different from the chicks of the same brood. He was dark and ugly. The other ducklings didn’t want to play with him. He remained isolated in the corner of the pond, until one day he decided to run away in search of a place where he would be accepted.

Wandering here and there, he joined first a family of geese and then a farmhouse. Both the geese and the farmers considered him ugly and useless.

The ugly duckling spent the winter alone and hungry. With the arrival of spring he landed up in a pond where very beautiful birds were swimming.

He didn’t dare to approach them. It was unthinkable that a so ugly duckling, as he was, would have been accepted by those graceful birds! He kept standing on the edge of the pond until one of those birds glided towards him.

How beautiful you are!” I have never seen such white feathers!” said the swan.

The ugly duckling bent his head incredulous and saw his image reflected on the water. He was a swan as well! His feathers had become white!

A similar allegory can be found in Jalaluddin Rumi’s Mathnawi. Rumi tells his hearers that they are “ducks, being brought up by hens”. They have to realize that their destiny is to swim, not to be chickens.

Both Rumi’s and Andersen’s stories are allegories of life. There is a natural evolutionist process in all living beings. It varies from individual to individual, depending on the happenings of life.

Character and personality may change, like the feathers of the swan. The essence, the innermost being is always the same.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind




At dawn, I went to the beach for my usual jogging. It was a foggy day, and the sun seemed to be unwilling to rise.

As I jogged on the beach, I felt like running amid the clouds. It was as if maya (illusion) mixed reality with dream.

Then, I recalled an experience that happened to the Chinese master, Chuang-tzu.

Last night,” he said, “I dreamed to be a butterfly. Now, I don’t know if I am a man who dreamed to be a butterfly or a butterfly that dreams to be a man.”

I sympathize with him. We cannot be sure if we are living a real life or we are dreaming.

Anyway, how about following the way our heart directs us? It cannot lead us astray.

Ettore Grillo, author of these books:

– A Hidden Sicilian History

– The Vibrations of Words

– Travels of the Mind



If you go to Warsaw, don’t miss visiting the heart of Chopin in the Church of The Holy Cross.

The great composer and pianist lived in Warsaw until the age of twenty; then he moved to Paris where he remained until the end of his young life.

Not everybody knows that Chopin was scared of being buried alive; so before dying, he asked his heart to be explanted and taken to Warsaw.

After his death, the Scottish lady Jane Stirling who was a student and a friend of Chopin, built a sepulchral monument on the tomb where Chopin’s body was buried in Paris, and also paid the expenses for the funeral and the return of his sister Ludwika to Poland.

Ludwika put her brother’s heart into an urn filled with alcohol and took it to Warsaw to be buried in the Church of the Holy Cross.

When I entered that church, the melodious sound of the organ flooded the atmosphere. I took a seat near Chopin’s heart and meditated on life, love and friendship. Then I recollected a few words painted on a wall of the hostel where I was staying:

I’ve travelled,

I’ve discovered,

I’ve changed the world.


Ettore Grillo, author of:

A Hidden Sicilian History

-The Vibrations of Words

-Travels of the Mind



balut-è-una-cucina-speciale-asia-55810445[1] - Copy

Traveling across the world, it has happened to me to eat every kind of food. I have eaten cockroaches, worms, grasshopper, frogs, raw meat, raw fish and so on, but at first glance what I was not able to eat was a balut.

What is a balut? It is a fertilized egg, that is an egg with a chick inside. It is considered a delicacy by the local people in Thailand, Vietnam and Philippines.

While I was travelling Indo-China I came across a balut twice.

The first time in Thailand. I was in Chang May, eating at a restaurant, when I saw a pile of white hard-boiled eggs in the shape of a pyramid that were kept warm by steam.

I was attracted by those eggs and ordered two of them. When I removed the eggshell, I saw some strange red veins. “This egg is not good!” I said to the waitress.

“No, it is very tasty! There is a chick inside” she replayed.

Despite her insistence, I was unable to eat that strange food and paid in vain.

A few years went by, and in Vietnam at a restaurant a waiter served me another balut. This time I wanted to try it, and little by little I ate both the chick and the egg.

Why I am writing about a balut? Because I want to draw attention to the fact that very often we humans cringe if a chick is eaten or a nest is destroyed, but we are left completely indifferent whenever thousands and thousands of migrants drown in the Mediterranean sea while trying to reach the European coasts. There are even people who love animals, but hate their neighbor. We had better observe reality as it is, regardless of our feelings of pleasure or displeasure, taste or disgust.


Ettore Grillo, author of Travels of the Mind



Dandelion is a medicinal herb widespread throughout the world. It is indicated to cure liver diseases and has diuretic properties as well.

A few days ago I picked a fair amount of dandelion herb. Once at home, I started cleaning it and put the buds whose stem was too long and hard to eat into a flower vase and poured some water. While selecting the buds I was on the brink of throwing away one of them whose stem was broken. Its shape was not attractive but finally I decided to put also it into the flower vase along with the others.

The next morning almost all buds opened and to my surprise the most beautiful flower was the broken dandelion, as you can see in the picture.

Sometimes people are like broken dandelions. We tend to assess them by their outward appearance, but we don’t know what kind of flower they have in their heart.

Ettore Grillo Author of these books:

 A Hidden Sicilian History

The Vibrations of Words

Travels of the Mind




Young Woman Cooking Royalty Free Stock Image

First of all, I cut the green onions into very small pieces.
Then, I fry onions for a few minutes with the olive oil of my land.
Then I add salt, peeled tomatoes, and finally a half
teaspoon of sugar. This small amount of sugar is very
important, for it removes the sourness of the tomato. Last, I
season the sauce with two teaspoons of raw olive oil and small
leaves of basil. Our traditional Sicilian basil has small leaves.
The fragrance given by this kind of basil is unique. But,
the real secret is a circle of three. To cook well,
you need three things: first, have good ingredients, second,
love cooking, and third, love the people whom you are
cooking for. In the end, love is at the base of everything!

Ettore Grillo, author of these books: