Just off the Southwest coast of Italy is the island of Sicily, your next travel destination. It is a dreamy spot in the Mediterranean, bathed in sunshine for the majority of the year and blessed with sublime beaches. A Sicily tour is an experience you will never forget. But, you want to make sure you remember it for the right reasons.
Here are some tips to ensure your Sicily tour goes down as the best trip of your life. They might also help you avoid some glaring social faux-pas.
1. The People of Sicily are Sicilians
Don’t even think about referring to a Sicilian as Italian. It’s not that they don’t think of themselves as Italian, but their primary identity is Sicilian. There are various cultural differences between Sicilians and Italians but most of these are indiscernible to the untrained eye. In the words of one Sicilian, the people of Sicily are more relaxed than those on the mainland.
2. Be Wary of the Roads in the South
If you are on a Sicily tour and being ferried around this may not apply to you, but those self-driving take heed. The roads in the North of Sicily are beautifully maintained and fit for even the most fragile of cars. The South, however, is an entirely different story. Those multi-laned highways suddenly become little more than country lanes, plagued with endless potholes.
3. Be Prepared to Eat Late
Forget about dinner at 6pm. Most restaurants on the island of Sicily don’t even open until 7pm at the earliest. And, you don’t want to be the first one in. Take a riposo (nap) around 3pm or have a big late lunch to make sure you aren’t starving by the time dinner rolls around. When it is finally dinnertime, get ready for oodles of spaghetti topped with seafood and other delicious island fare.
4. Sicilians Are Lax With Their Time-Keeping
The pace on the island of Sicily is pretty slow and that’s exactly what makes it so charming. No-one is hurrying around, getting flustered. Instead, people take their time and go about their day in a leisurely manner. This can be hard to get used to if you are in the habit of everything being perfectly punctual.
My advice is not to fight it. If your Sicily tour guide shows up late or your service is a little slow, don’t worry about it. Just grab yourself an espresso or gaze out at the scenery and enjoy yourself while you wait.
5. Learn Some Basic Italian
While there will be some people in Sicily who speak English, you shouldn’t count on this. Learning a few basic Italian phrases will help you a lot as you navigate the island. If you don’t think you can remember foreign words, write them down or bring a phrase book with you. Even if you encounter a Sicilian with perfect English, they will be touched that you made an effort to learn their language.