Italian is the official language in Sicily, but while walking around and travelling on public transports the language you will hear is very often Sicilian. Sicilian is, like Italian, based on Latin and is a language that changes depending on which area of the island you are visiting.
You will discover a fascinating world of accents and intonations and alongside the Sicilian in some areas people speak also Albanian or some dialect of Lombard and French origins.
In Palermo and Catania, there aren´t many people who can speak English, but many staffs in airports, hotels and restaurants understand it well enough to make basic transactions go smoothly.
Documents and currency
In Italy it is obligatory to carry an identity document. Italians and other EU citizens can use both their ID or passport while other foreign visitors will be expected to show a valid passport as a form of recognition. The local currency for every form of payment is the euro (€).
UTC + 1
How to dress and weather
If you suffer the heat you would be well advised not to visit Sicily in the height of summer but in the spring or autumn when you will find more moderate but still very pleasant temperatures, lower prices and fewer tourists around. At this time of year even in the evening a pair of light cotton trousers and a T-shirt are generally sufficient. The island is a magnificent place to visit every month of the year, however, as it has something to offer in every season. It all depends on what you are looking for. The climate is typically Mediterranean with hot dry summers, especially in the southernmost areas which are exposed to the African "scirocco" (an hot wind from Sahara), and relatively mild winters. If you are concerned that you may not be able to indulge in your passion for snow-skiing, you are quite wrong: the slopes of Mount Etna get an excellent covering of snow during the winter months and will offer you an exhilarating experience. Lower temperatures are also to be found in the Madonie and Nebrodi mountain ranges. In the summer we would advise you never to go out without a hat, sun-cream and a bottle of water.
Shops and Banks
Shops in Sicily generally open from 9am to 1pm and from 4pm to 8pm every day from Monday to Saturday. On Sundays you will find most bars and restaurants open as well as many supermarkets and the larger shopping centres. In addition, during the high season, the shops in many seaside resorts often stay open late in the evening. Banks are generally open from 8:30 to 1:30 and from 2:30 to 3:30 and post offices from 8:15 to 2pm .
The day of closure, standardised throughout Italy, is Monday. For the rest of the week you can fill up on history, culture and art from 9am to 1pm and generally for a few hours also in the afternoon. Archaeological sites in particular tend to stay open till sunset. In off-season periods it is a good idea to phone first in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Electrical voltage ; Mobile ; PC
The electrical current in Italy is 220 volts at 50 cycles. An adapter may be necessary because British, Australian and American plugs (to cite just three examples) are different in design from Italian ones; their prongs will not fit into Italian wall sockets. Some computers and cell phones are designed to adapt to the current variation internally, without need for an external adapter , but it is better to check the owner´s manual. Airport shops (and occasionally in-flight ´duty-free´ services) at larger airports outside Italy are a good source of adapters; those in Rome, Milan and Palermo.
In Italy your mobile carrier will use the services of TIM, Vodafone or Wind. Italy´s mobile networks and service are among the world´s most efficient and, all things considered, most economical. You may even find it practical to purchase a cell phone account (using pre-paid cards) in Italy for your use while you´re here. As the dimensions and format of European SIM cards are different from those used in some other regions, you may have to purchase a phone here in Italy to follow our advice.
All the most important c/cards are accepted in restaurants, shops, pub, coffee shops etc..( VISA,MASTERCARD ,AMEX )
Post Offices and Shipping Products
It is possible to send goods abroad through the public post offices or by private courier (Mail Boxes, DHL, TNT Italy), in any case, the goods must be packed carefully. If you do not want to personally take care of the packaging you can contact a Mail Boxes store in any major Italian city and ask them to take care of the packing service and give you information about the list of products that can be sent according to the country of destination.
When the tips are not included in the price, you should be aware that it is customary to leave a tip when the service is considered satisfactory to the waiters of a restaurant, at the hotels, to tour guides, group leaders and private bus drivers at the end of the tour.
Customs e Traditions
If during your trip you abandon some of your daily habits to adopt the Sicilian ones, you will allow yourself to better travel through the Sicilian life style, your palate will discover new flavours and you will be enriched by so new experiences. Try not to order a cappuccino at the end of your meal, maybe it is better to order an espresso!
Risk during the trip
In Sicily there are no particular risks apart from the usual ones that are the same in all major cities, so we advise you to watch carefully your personal belongings when you are in crowded places, bring with you a copy of the documents and leave at the hotel the original, together with jewellery and money, using the safe box in your room.
For any problem you can contact the authorities in charge (Polizia or Carabinieri).
We provide a medical insurance for all our guests to cover medical costs.