6 things to know before heading to Sicily

6 things to know before heading to Sicily

Sicilylemons

The reason I did this list is very simple, let me explain it to you …Once I bought tickets to Sicily I started to do research about the island. However, very quickly I realised that every google search and every post written about Sicily were very generic, all about the same topics and very rarely any useful up-to-date information was given. So after visiting Sicily there were certain things that stood out and I wish someone told me about them before I flew there. So without any further a due, here is my compiled list of 6 things to know before visiting Sicily.

1. Local  Food Markets

Sicilian markets are like Disney land for foodies. The freshest of produce, neat stacks of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, vendors loudly announcing their wares. The share size of citrus and the smell of fresh tomatoes will blow your mind.

Fish lovers will be in heaven, especially those with a kitchen to go back to for cooking. Piles of calamari, glistening rows of sardines, tables almost collapsing under the weight of tuna and swordfish steaks, fishmongers preparing sea urchins for you to eat on the go…With the fishing port being just on the other side of the town, this is as fresh as it gets.

For the “creme de la creme” catch visit market early in the morning and  for those who love good bargain pop in back in the evening.

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Cheese display on the market in Catania, Sicily
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Early Fish Catch in Fish Market in Catania, Sicily

2. Granita

Whether or not granita originated from the snows of Mount Etna, as legend has it, it is simply fantastic in Sicily. Granita is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water, and various flavourings. In the eastern part of Sicily, you will find granita flavoured with local pistachios, in the opposite side of the island almond and lemon flavours are more popular. Granita as slush-type drink  rather than dessert served with the side of fresh brioche. Local delicatessen you do not want to miss.

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Locals Eat Pistachio Granita With Whipped Cream Topped With Cinnamon, Sicilian Delicatessen

3. Ice cream burgers

Sicilians love their ice cream, so much that they will have food trucks serving ice- cream burgers to additional gelaterias in the town. Burger trucks are very popular and you will see people queueing up for a while to get a couple of balls of ice cream on a buttery brioche. All topped with fresh caffè espresso, of course.

4. Mafia

It is still the case nowadays,  that some hotels and restaurants in Sicily are paying “pizzo” – sums of “protection money”  directly to the Mafia. Locals despise such owners and therefore will never choose to stay or dine in these places. Whilst wondering the streets of Catania and Taormina, you could  clearly see some restaurants being unusually empty with few tourists in, and some booming with locals. This is usually an indicator of which restaurants are associated with Mafia activity.

 

5. Transport between the cities

Timetables are almost non-existent, so try to use your Italian-English and “parle con zesty” style to ask for more information. Unlike timetables, locals are usually very friendly and will always try to help you out. Buses will almost leave “on time” but do not expect punctuality here- it’s Sicily baby! The last coach between cities leaves around 20.00 in the evening, make sure to plan your day accordingly because there will be no transport available after. In comparison, a taxi will cost you hefty €50-€60 for the same distance.

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Small Streets Displaying Local Crafts You Can’t Not To Fall In Love With, Taormina, Sicily

6. Traffic

Traffic lights are just for decoration. Simply put, on a red light the car might stop, Vespa might not and bicyclist will most definitely ignore it. As a pedestrian, crossing the road might be a bit of a challenge- the best advice I’ve heard from locals is to when crossing the road ” close your eyes and count your blessings (preferably in Italian). It is acceptable to hold up a traffic in both directions for any excuse- be it an emergency ice cream buy or talking to the neighbour on the street.

Saying that, the best way to explore the island is to rent a car. Having a car will offer you freedom of exploring more rural parts of the island. However, even the most experienced drivers will have to adjust to the ” driving style” of the locals, and that could be quite challenging.

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Taormina Is My Favourite City in Sicily

In conclusion, I absolutely loved Sicily. The warmth and friendliness of people, amazing local food and truly authentic bazaars left a very soft spot in my heart. I most definitely will be coming back to explore more of the beauty of this island.

Hopefully, you find this read interesting and got some useful insight into Sicilian life. Give me a shout, if you have any questions in comments below. Have a lovely day everyone. Mucho Love