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.
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 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 (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 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.
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, a Tale of Two Cities
Ragusa is out of this world! It’s up high enough to be well and truly on another planet and it beats me how people can live here without super powers. A tale from my adventures in Sicily
Ragusa - Used as a location for the fictional Vigata
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.
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.
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
Have you met Montalbano?
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?
Sharon kitchen. on July 17, 2020:
I have watched montalbanoseries over and over again,i find mr zingaretti very easy on the eye,i really hope they are going to make more episodes because the 34 that i have recorded have been watched over and over again,have also watched young montalbano but salvos thd only one for me,he has many fans in england,more please, please, please.
Jonathan Cahm on April 19, 2015:
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...)
asimoviain on June 21, 2014:
@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.
Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on June 15, 2014:
@asimoviain: You'll have some difficulty reading the original books as they're written in Sicilian, not Italian
asimoviain on June 15, 2014:
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 !
Merry Citarella from Oregon's Southern Coast on April 07, 2014:
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.
Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on September 13, 2013:
@adragast24: In English? I read the Montalbano books in English, my Italian is not good enough for a fast and comfortable read besides, Camilleri writes so much in a Sicilian dialect
adragast24 on September 13, 2013:
@adragast24: Just thought I would let you know I bought the book you recommended (the snack thief).
adragast24 on September 13, 2013:
This is so great to review movies or TV series from other countries! And this series looks so great. Thanks for the share.
Mickie Gee on September 06, 2013:
I never knew there was a tv series! I have only read one Montalbano book and found it fascinating and quite unique.
anonymous on August 25, 2013:
I have enjoyed every episode of Montalbano shown here on the Falls Church, Va MHZ station and am hopefully awaiting new episodes of the senior Montalbano adventures in Sicily. The "young Montalbano" series can only be described as a producer's mistake or a false economy, although the young Montalbano is very cute. How in the world would a kid his age be in a senior position in charge of all his elders?? Please, no more of that. Since Luca Zingaretti is apparently alive, well and willing, I hope that a new series will be forthcoming. Although there are many other Italian detectives and mysteries shown on MHZ, Montalbano is by far the most enjoyable and least blood curdling. I do not enjoy fiction which includes as much graphic gore, violence and sex as they can get away with.
anonymous on April 07, 2013:
@SusannaDuffy: Thanks Susanna, I'll check it out.
Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on April 07, 2013:
@victoria-webb-1023: Sounds like the very first episode of Young Montalbano
victoria-webb-1023 on April 06, 2013:
Thank you Susanna, for creating this page. I have a question: Before I became a huge fan of Detective Montalbano, I saw a program on MHZ in which the character of Montalbano (not played by Luca Zingaretti) is retiring. the character of either Fazzio or Mimi, I can't remember which, says, "All I ever wanted was to be as good a detective as you", or something similar. I would love to watch that movie again, now that I've seen every episode of the series, at least twice. But I can't remember the name of the movie. Could it have been part of the "Young Montalbano" series? Or was it a stand alone production?
anonymous on April 06, 2013:
Recently discovered this show. Good plotting and I like the tough but at the same time, vulnerable nature of Salvo. Great locations. Fazio is such a cute puppy dog!!
anonymous on November 20, 2012:
Just love these stories. Recorded each week and watched in peace during the afternoon, bliss then for some reason pasta seems to be what I want
anonymous on November 17, 2012:
Can't make my mind up whether I love the sexy Salvo character more than the comical Caterella or even the loyal Fazio. I absolutely love this series and look forward to the next one ASAP please BBC4.
anonymous on November 14, 2012:
It's finished ... I am gutted! Please repeat them from the beginning BBC !
anonymous on November 11, 2012:
Visited many of the locations on a recent trip to Sicily. So spectacular that will go back again next year.
anonymous on November 09, 2012:
The music,the scenery,the actors,the plots. Tutti sono bellissimi.
anonymous on November 09, 2012:
I really enjoyed reading your introduction to Montalbano, particularly about the food!
I tend to fall asleep when itâs screened on late-evening TV. Luckily Iâve managed to snag every single episode from the BBC iPlayer, so I can come back to them again and again. Sadly, I think the current run ends this Saturday).
Iâve read lots of complaints about the editing of the TV show â sometimes a scene lingers where they would have been sliced to within an inch of its life in a UK or US show. But I think thatâs part of its charm: nice and laid back, always ready to stop for lunch or to gawp at a curvy lady. I love the contrast between this and the taut, on-edge Scandinavian dramas (which I love too) that weâve been bombarded with recently.
For me the real shame of the more recent episodes is that the lovely Livia hasnât made an on-screen appearance. I really enjoy her scenes with Salvo. In fact, according to imdb, Katharina BÃ¶hm only played Livia until 2002 (so sheâs perhaps unlikely to return), but she seems to have been very busy doing Austrian TV movies in the meantime. Incidentally, she also played Clara in the 70s kidsâ TV show Heidi. It occurs to me that Iâve never heard her actual voice because Heidi was dubbed into English and in Montalbano sheâs dubbed into Italian!!
anonymous on November 08, 2012:
I absolutely love watching Inspector Montalbano on Saturday night. Everything about it is entertaining, especially Caterella ... and the food in fact! The novels by Andrea Camilleri are extremely enjoyable too. Please make some more episodes so we can continue watching!
anonymous on November 08, 2012:
I love watching Inspector Montalbano when I get out of Dialysis at night, that's my enjoyment as I eat my dinner. He is excellent in everthing he and his staff does. I love going on computer and seeing all the beautiful scenery. I hope this series does not go off air. thank you for reading my notice. have a nice day.
anonymous on November 07, 2012:
Watching Luca Zingaretti and the rest of the team on a Saturday evening is my idea of heaven. Story lines are brilliant. Scenery is amazing. Sub titling works extremely well with the realistic acting and actor Zingaretti has charisma and chutzpa. Add glorious photography and tight editing and you have perfection.....
anonymous on November 03, 2012:
It is Brilliant......I look forward to Saturday night to watch it!
anonymous on October 06, 2012:
I'm looking for a recipe for a sauce made with sardines and anchovies and roasted tomatoes or perhaps red peppers. It may be referred to as "Sardes" Thank you for any help you can provide.
Susanna Duffy (author) from Melbourne Australia on September 29, 2012:
@anonymous: why not write to RAI?
anonymous on September 29, 2012:
How can I contact Angelo Russo?
anonymous on September 22, 2012:
a most restful yet entertaining detective series. I usually doze off for 10 or so happy minutes in the middle, because it is so relaxing, but then go online to catch up. Like others, I want to emigrate to Sicily now.
Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on September 06, 2012:
I've now seen the first series, shown on the BBC earlier in the year and now they are showing the 2nd series. This is 'must see' TV for me.
BarbaraCasey on August 15, 2012:
I didn't realize Montalbano was already on film. I recently added the book series to my mystery series lens, I liked them so much. Glad to find some more fans here.
Paul from Liverpool, England on August 14, 2012:
Don't forget his formidable coffee-drinking :)
anonymous on April 16, 2012:
So sad that Montlbano series is finished...please BBC broadcast more.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on April 03, 2012:
Well I came to this lens to investigate what exactly working as an Investigator would be like but fell in love with your fictional city of Montelusa. Beautiful.
anonymous on March 27, 2012:
My Italian wife and I have seen all the programmes on RAI UNO as we have Italian TV via satellite on Hotbird 13 degrees East. Now we are watching six episodes of Young Montalbano (Giovane Montalbano) set in 1990. It is fabulous! It airs on Thursday evening.
anonymous on March 19, 2012:
Hey - I absolutely agree! I read about 10 of the Montalbano novels (in English) but when the series came on TV (BBC 4 - I'm in England) at first I thought the actor looks nothing like him. Far too glamorous! But I've fallen in love with Zingaretti's Montalbano now and look forward to Saturday nights in. I also like Zen - books better than rather wooden TV series (UK). I hope you get to Sicily - me too! Forse ci vediamo la! Best wishes, Laura Morris
PamelaU on March 12, 2012:
This has just started airing in the UK, and it's fairly popular so far.
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on March 01, 2012:
thanks for the introduction of Inspector Montabano
anonymous on October 26, 2011:
I have all the DVDs (1-5) and have watched the episodes on SBS. I wish I had recorded them from TV as SBS sub-titling is better than RAI. E.g we have arancini here so there is no need to translate it to rice croquettes.
I have some of the books and am trying to work out why Livia only makes voice appearances on the films after the first few episodes.
Thanks for the recipes. I will check them out more closely.
OldStones LM on October 23, 2011:
I have seen episodes of Montalbano on the local public television station good stuff. I enjoyed your run down of the characters.
C A Chancellor from US/TN on October 16, 2011:
I had to check out this lens after seeing the link in your forum signature -- I was too curious! It sounds like a neat series. I wish we had better access to foreign shows here in the U.S.
Paul from Liverpool, England on October 16, 2011:
Never seen a TV offering but I like the books,
Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on October 12, 2011:
I've never seen the TV series but I've started reading the novels. In fact, I finished one last night and really enjoyed it. I guess I'll work my way through the novels now I've got to know Montalbano. Blessed.
phoenix arizona f on July 15, 2011:
Looks like a good series.
anonymous on May 14, 2011:
great lens squid angel blessing ;) adding to my blog roll
hlkljgk from Western Mass on May 10, 2011:
nicely done. i had never heard of this show before.
Tonie Cook from USA on April 28, 2011:
Great program tribute. This will most certainly be on my 'check this out' list.
Paula Morgan from Sydney Australia on April 28, 2011:
I had never heard of Inspector Montalbano either but am certainly going to check him out.
Karen from U.S. on April 02, 2011:
I've never heard of Montalbano, but this looks like a fun series to watch -- I enjoy detective-type stories! From browsing though the other comments, it looks like I could find them on Amazon.
CannyGranny on March 28, 2011:
I love the shows too - I got the DVDs from Dymocks
anonymous on February 20, 2011:
Thanks for the great site! You've covered the series so well. I am a fanatic Montalbano fan, both the books and the TV series. DVDs 1-18, subtitled in English, can be purchased on www.bn.com or Amazon.com.
anonymous on January 24, 2011:
excellent stuff. Well done. I've read them all so far and gifted friends who now adore Montalbano. Can we get the DVD's in English for Britain - not the US?
Julia M S Pearce from Melbourne, Australia on January 17, 2011:
It is a great show!Good one!Nice seascapes in clip.
Karicor on January 08, 2010:
I'd let this guy cook for me any time! Don't know if we have this series here but will surely investigate now... :)