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10 things not to do in Sicily

Written by a Sicilian…

sicilian map

Some tourist confuse Sicily with Malta!

1. Do not understimate the dimension of the Island. Sicily is the biggest island all over the Mediterranean sea, It’s big! The Sicilian coastline is 620 mile long! Many travelers understimate the distances when planning the trip and this results in a senseless 3-4 day quick look at Palermo, Siracuse and Taormina, a total waste of money! To see the main tourist attractions you need at least 7 nights. If you are into history and arts, only the city of Palermo deserves at least 3 night for its uncountable stunning monuments, palaces and churches. If you want to see, enjoy and understand Sicily, just take your time! Two week travel on a car is what we recommend.

driving sicily

Check this out! “death wish drivers” eheheh!

2. Do not trust discouraging comments of other travelers. Each one travels his own way. Some travelers know how to behave, others don’t, some travelers feel comfortable in certain situations, others don’t. On the web you might read that Palermo is dangerous (bullsh**), you might read that driving is suicidal (bullsh**). Driving is not dangerous, We simply drive differently 🙂 It will take you ten minute to understand how to drive around, and you know what? many travelers enjoy it as a real local experience! If you want to tour the island in about two weeks, I strongly recommend you rent a car, it will make you save a lot of time and allows you to reach the best vineyards and bays.

tourist in sicily

This is what I mean!

3. Do not walk around the streets carrying and hugging your backpack on the chest. Sicily is a very safe place to travel, no matter what you read online. The crime rate of Palermo and Catania is lower than the one reported in most popular Italian destinations like Rome, Milan, Bologna and Florence. Small crime in Sicily is not an issue. Taking too-much visible safety precautions, such as carrying your backpack afront or hugging your bag on your chest, will only make you look stupid and nervous, and locals hate this! Just dress and act normal!I learned a very important lesson by traveling, the more worried you are, the more chances you have to get in troubles…it’s a matter of karma! Just Relax, you are in Sicily 🙂

The Padrino mug

4. Do not joke about mafia, Do not buy mafia souvenirs and Do not join Godfather tours. Many Sicilian lost their life in fighting the mafia, please respect their memory. Walking around Sicily carrying the word “Mafia” or “Padrino”on your clothes is disrepectful. Never forget that Mafia is a criminal organisation, it’s not related to Sicilian culture at all. If Sicilians don’t want to talk about mafia, it’s not because they are afraid of something, it’s either because they are ashamed of it or because they don’t want to recall sad moments. Do not smile nor laugh when your guide tells you about a judge and his guards slaughtered by an explosion. These stories happened in real life, not in a movie theater! Don’t trust bloggers writing “do not mention the M word!”, bullshit! Asking about Mafia is your right and you can do it anytime and anywhere, but insisting on this issue can be quite annoying for Sicilians. Don’t make jokes about mafia, it’s like making jokes about nazism in Germany. So Stop seeing mafia and start seeing Sicily 🙂

An undisguised tourist walking around Palermo

5. Do not wear the touristy Panama hat and Do not stick your forehead on the map! This is another point you should take very seriously everytime you travel. Try to dress and behave normal! The Panama hat makes you recognizable as a tourist. You can hear your hat screaming around “Hey! I’m a tourist, please overcharge me!rob me! Can you see me?! Overhere!”. I bet all my belongings that you would never walk around your hometown wearing a white panama hat…so why do you buy it as soon as you land somewhere else? One more tip, keep the map in your pocket and ask directions to locals in the streets. Not all maps are well designed and well detailed, some is even oriented the wrong way! So, fold your map, stop a local passing by and ask “scusi, dov’è…?” (tr. Excuse me, where is…)

6. Do not push away Sicilians approaching you in the streets. Sicilians don’t harass tourists in the streets to take them into tourist traps. If a Sicilian approaches you in the streets, he probably wants to have a little chat or help you with directions and tips. Sicilians are very welcoming with tourists, count on them for anything you need! Sicily hasn’t been spoiled by mass tourism yet, which means that Sicilians are still pretty innocent regarding cheating with tourists. In certain occasion you might get slightly overcharged, but that’s it, you don’t need to be suspicious everytime you buy a beer. Relax, be patient, smile and enjoy, you are in Sicily.

no tourist trap sign

You won’t see this sign. Find it in your heart 🙂

7. Do not follow Tripadvisor or Lonely Planet’s tips as a bible when travelling in Sicily. I shouldn’t say this, since Streaty tours are recommended by them 🙂 You wanna find the right restaurant? ask people in the streets! Most of Sicilians don’t use tripadvisor, yelp and other opinion sharing website. This means that the restaurants you see listed on the web have been judged by tourists only! excuse me…you are travelling, you need locals’ tips! Take a look at our free tips!

8. Do not underestimate the Sicilian summer heat, especially if your skin is very white, use sunscreens or you could seriously get burnt. Sicily is often very windy and wind don’t help you realize how strong is the sun. So, once again, use sunscreen! watch out…you are in Sicily! 🙂

9. Do not call tourist offices or privates between 1pm and 3.30 pm. It’s lunch and siesta time! Between 2 and 4 pm many shops close for siesta, this is the time to take a nap! If we don’t pick up your calls or we don’t reply to your emails it’s probably because of your bad timing 🙂 be patient and relax, you are in Sicily!

sicilian cannoli

Cannoli is not a summer dessert!

10. Do not eat Cannoli in summertime! Cannoli is a seasonal dessert. The sheep ricotta cream made to fill this delicious crunchy crust is only produced between Autumn and Spring. The cannoli you find at cafès between June and September are only served to tourists! A real Sicilian, caring about quality of food, would never eat a cannolo in summertime. You don’t trust me? so wait a minute…there must be a reason why on Streaty tours we don’t offer cannolis in summertime, right? Well, this is the reason 🙂 You can find delicious alternatives to refresh your palate on your next Sicilian summer trip. You may also want to read “Cannoli, all you need to know before landing in Sicily “ and “Top ten Sicilian bites”. Stretch your belly, you are in Sicily!

And remember, anytime you need tips or information about Sicily…Here we are!
You don’t have a local friend? yes you do! It’s us 🙂
Stay Hungry Stay Streaty!
Marco