I really can’t believe it’s been a full year since we moved to Sicily! Sicily is an amazing place and we have loved getting acclimated to our new home. However, that’s not to say there haven’t been a few surprises along the way. To be completely honest, it has probably been the fastest year of my life. Looking back now, it all seems like a big blur. Luckily, I have kept up fairly well with blogging, so I can reminisce about all of my travel over the last 12 months (see my 2018 recap here).
To say I’ve learned a lot in this past year is an understatement. I’ve not only learned about what it’s like to live in Europe, but also sooo much about myself. While you probably don’t care that much about what I’ve learned about myself, but you might be interested to know what I’ve learned while living in Sicily! So, here are ten things I’ve learned while living in Sicily…
I had every intention of learning Italian when we moved here, but I have been so busy with work, travel, etc., that I honestly haven’t prioritized it. While life would be much easier if I could communicate more effectively, I can definitely get by without being able to do so. On that note, it is definitely important to know some things and to better understand what is/isn’t socially acceptable.
For example, greetings are valued here. When you step into a store, restaurant, market stall, etc. you should immediately need to say ‘good morning’ (Buongiorno) or ‘good evening’ (Buonasera). Additionally, the idea of morning differs from ours – morning is until 2pm here! Not, 12pm as it is in the US.
I was told before we moved here that driving in Sicily was crazy. It is definitely different than what I have experienced in the US. There are basically no rules. Some people drive 120mph, while others drive 20mph; it’s all up to you. I have seen people stop in the middle of the road and reverse if they miss their turn, or simply create their own lane. Stop signs serve as more of a suggestion. While this style of driving was a bit shocking to me when we initially arrived, I’ve acclimated to it now and I’m not sure how I will be able to go back to driving with so many rules in the States.
Sicily is also incredibly spread out, which makes public transportation between cities impractical. There is public transportation within cities and some trains between cities. But if you want to see more of the countryside, you will definitely need a car.
Let me start out by saying, I know not all water and air quality is superb in the US, but I’ve personally never lived in a place where I have to be cognizant of these things. A lot of the tap water here isn’t potable and a volcano in your back yard + Sahara sand storms that blow over seasonally are both good reasons for staying indoors.
The food is ALWAYS good here. No matter where we go or what we eat (except that one “sushi” restaurant, Justin and Maddie). But most of our choices of cuisine are literally Italian or… Italian. There are quite a few restaurants that offer non-Italian menus, but it’s not the variety I was used to back in the States. This means there is a lot of pizza, pasta, seafood, and aaahhhmazing desserts. Luckily for me, I LOVE all of that. My body, however, could use a few more salads.
Life in Sicily is different than life in Italy. Sicilians even have their own dialect and cuisine. I didn’t realize until we went to Rome that much of what we eat and love in Sicily is purely Sicilian! The pasta norma (pasta with eggplant sauce), pistachio on everything (pizza, pasta, ice cream), arancini (fried balls of rice with fillings inside), granita (a dessert somewhere between sorbet and Italian ice) are all Sicilian specialities. This feels so special to me, as I would have never had the opportunity to experience these things had I not come here.
This was a hard one for me, but mail for me here takes at least two weeks to receive. When I see my friends receiving items in the mail back home, I honestly don’t even feel like I can relate anymore! Also, I don’t know of any 24-hour stores (but maybe they exist and I just don’t know about them).
Generally, the most prominent landmark in Sicilian towns are the basilicas. And, boy are they stunning! I don’t consider myself to be a religious person, but as I told Jordan when we were in Naples, the experience walking though these grand churches is very moving. The sheer size of the structures, along with all of the tiny details, is just incredible.
Sicilians also love their saints. Each town has its own saint and many of the people born in that town are named accordingly. For example, in Catania, the patron saint is Saint Agata. Thus, many of the women there are also name Agata.
Riposo is a daily event which equates to a really long lunch break where every store closes during the middle of the day. In America, normal business hours are 8AM – 5PM. In Sicily, they are 8ish to 8ish, with a three hour break in the middle of the day from 12PM – 3PM. I get why Sicilians need this nap – dinner doesn’t start until after 8PM, so they stay up late.
One of the coolest things to me is seeing pets in the mall! Pets in the Apple store just waiting to get the latest iPhone. Dogs at restaurants. YESSSS! I love how pet friendly everything is.
The public toilet experience here is much different than in the US. There aren’t many public toilets available. If you do find one, you will need to pay and *might* also need to supply your own toilet paper.