Italy: A Course in Geography

An outraged father tells a cousin that his young daughter has a problem. "Tumore [tumor]?" asks the cousin solicitously. The father growls back, "Onore [honor]!"

The scene is from Seduced and Abandoned, the uproarious and poignant film satire on Sicily's exalted, exasperating code of honor. Pretty Maria Furnari, 19, might have been the heroine of that movie. She lived a secluded life in Piazza Armerina, a town of 28,000 set in the bleak, sun-baked hills of central Sicily. At home, Maria was so strictly supervised that she could not even go to church alone. But each weekday, Maria traveled 40...

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