February 21, 2019
I really can’t believe it’s been a full year since we moved to Sicily! 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 (I’ll save that for another day!), you might be interested to know what I’ve learned about 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, blogging, that I honestly haven’t prioritized it. While life would be much easier if I could adequately communicate, 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, Sicilians really value greetings. When you step into a store, restaurant, market stall, etc. you immediately need to say ‘good morning’ (Buongiorno) or ‘good evening’ (Buonasera). Additionally, their idea of morning differs from ours – morning is until 2pm here! Not, 12pm as in the US.
I was told before we moved here that driving in Sicily was crazy. That was an understatement. There are NO RULES! That’s right. You can drive 120mph or 20mph, it’s all up to you. You can stop in the middle of the road and reverse if you miss your turn, or simply create your own lane when you don’t want to wait. Oh, and no one gives a shit about stop lights or signs. They are all just simply suggestions.
Sicily is also incredibly spread out, which makes public transportation impractical. Va bene.
I know not all water and air quality is superb in the US, but I’ve personally never lived in a place where the water is only sometimes potable and I have to have an app on my phone to monitor the air quality before I go outside. From the moment we moved here, we only drank bottled water (we have a water cooler to cut back on plastic waste). But, it wasn’t until a bit later that I realized that a volcano in your back yard + Sahara sand storms that blow over your island 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 the caveat to that is our choices of cuisine are literally Italian or… Italian. There are a couple of sushi places, a Thai restaurant, and a “Mexican” restaurant that I know of, but for the large, large majority, everything is Italian. 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. They 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 (spaghetti 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).
It is hard, but now when I get a package in 10 days instead of 14, I’m like, WOW! That was fast! I also tend to stock up on things a bit more.
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 the basilicas 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. But, I ALWAYS want to stop during this time somehow and I can’t!!
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! More of this, please!
As public toilets are few and far between. When you find one, it will probably be dirty and out of toilet paper. Make sure to have some coins on you to pay for the privilege to pee and bring your own toilet paper so you don’t have to drip dry!