Traveling to Italy and not visiting Sicily should be considered a crime. It is one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Even the ancient Romans can attest to that. Here are a few useful things to know about Sicily when planning your trip.
This Mediterranean slice of heaven has a living history that you can feel as you walk the ancient streets. You can explore the mountains, forests, waters and cuisine, or ski down the nearby active volcano. Yes, you really can!
Most locals consider Sicily a separate entity within Italy. This is mainly due to their dialect. Even when you’ve improved your Italian, you still find it difficult to converse with the locals. Nevertheless, the cuisine, architecture and culture more than make up for it. Locals are great at describing everything to tourists with their hands!
See also: Best places to visit in Northern Italy
Everything you need to know about Sicily to make the most of your trip
Here are the most important things to know about Sicily when planning your trip to the island.
See also: 8 Day Sicily Itinerary
When is the best time to visit Sicily?
Sicily is one of those places where you can go at any time of the year and have a great trip. That’s because it’s one of the southernmost destinations and is fairly close to North Africa. If the seasons are generous, you can swim in the sea even in November. In addition, the summers are not so hot because the island has a constant breeze blowing from all sides.
Now let’s get down to the details. The tourist season in Sicily begins in June or July, depending on the year. Expect higher prices and lots of people on the streets until mid-September. If you plan to visit in summer, remember to book all your experiences in advance. Reservations tend to sell out pretty quickly.
If you don’t want to deal with constant crowds, March, April or May would be a better time to visit. You will have plenty of space to do some sightseeing but you will need to check online to see if certain services are open. Locals usually close when the season ends to do repairs or renovations and they might be out of service at the moment. This applies to restaurants, shops and some resorts.
How to get around Sicily
There are two main choices when it comes to travel. The first rents a car, and the second uses public transport. You should avoid the latter. Publicity Timetables are more of a guide instead of actual schedules. It is quite normal for a bus or train to be 15 minutes late. Since you want to see everything under the sun, it’s better to rent a small car.
You will need a smaller vehicle as the island has a massive parking problem. Also, the roads are quite narrow and you might feel anxious while driving on the narrow roads. Also, the locals drive like crazy. They will probably find out that you are a foreigner by watching you follow all the rules. Then they cut you off from all sides or pull off without proper signaling. The same rules apply to the youngsters on motorcycles. Remember to check several times if there are scooters nearby.
You can book a rental car through Eurocar.
One of the most important things to know about Sicily is that you need cash. You will use your credit card throughout the trip except to withdraw money from ATMs. Euros are similar to dollars in terms of value and you need them to pay for granitas, wine, coffee and dinner. The same applies to large markets and road tolls.
However, that doesn’t mean you should always have a thick wallet in your back pocket. Carry a little more than you need, keep most of your money at home, or visit the ATM regularly. It is better to use those issued by banks, since private banks have high transaction fees.
Live like the Sicilians
Try to adapt to the local way of life. If you have a siesta, take one too! Plus, no trip to Sicily would be complete without shopping at the local markets. It’s best to go early in the morning, because that’s when the fresh products are ready. If you decide to sleep in, there’s nothing left.
Forget your diet and enjoy fresh bread while you’re there. Fresh in the morning or after siesta. All your taste buds will be amazed by the sounds, smells, colors and tastes you experience!
Don’t talk to locals about the mafia
Most of the Clichés about Italians are true. They like to eat pizza, pasta and salads. They drink wine and take breaks from work during the day to nap. And of course when they talk, it looks like they’re going to start fighting at any moment. Well, the same goes for the mafia.
Blockbuster movies are full of Italian mafia bosses, but the Sicilians have to live with them. Even as criminal activity approaches zero, some businesses still have to pay fees just to be “safe from harm.”
You will not experience any crime or violence as a tourist. In fact, it’s an incredibly family-friendly place to visit. However, you should be careful about how you use your internet. Hackers are more prominent than the mafia, waiting for tourists to take the bait of public Wi-Fi.
Since you don’t have data at all times, it’s a good idea to install a VPN with limited features if you’re using a public network. This way you will be able to enjoy the internet safely and protected from malware, ads, and intrusive cookies.