In this article, I will help you save time and money by highlighting the mistakes you should absolutely avoid in Sicily.
Wanna be the cool kid in Sicily, not some naïve tourist who blows all their dough and has a terrible experience, right?
Well, make sure you really listen to this advice and don’t fall for the same five blunders I’ve noticed a lot of foreigners make in Palermo. Pay attention ‘til the end, okay? (there’s no time to check out what your pal’s up to on Instagram)
This info will not only help you save coins and time (you’re welcome), but more importantly, it’ll make your Palermo experience way cooler and more local.
If we haven’t met yet, my name is Nico. I’m 100% Sicilian and the founder of wearepalermo.com, an authentic guide made by Sicilians with love ❤️.
Ready? Let’s check it out!
Mistake number 1: Trusting TripAdvisor
Most Sicilians don’t write on TripAdvisor unless they feel a restaurant really deserves a public lashing. It’s TOURISTS that mainly use the site.
So when you’re using it to pick restaurants, it’s as if you’re in China, picking a restaurant based on reviews written by Sicilians. Not the brightest move!
How to find out where the locals go? You gotta do it the old-fashioned way: use your tongue.
Word of mouth is still a powerful thing in these parts. So ask your host, a local friend, the local patron saint or anyone you bump into on the streets, but don’t use TripAdvisor or similar sites.
Only the locals know the absolute best restaurants, but they’re not really into writing reviews on TripAdvisor or other sites. So, here’s a pro tip: don’t be shy, just ask the locals for the scoop on the top-notch dining spots.
Mistake number 2: Not planning an itinerary
Sometimes, I hear folks who visit Palermo proudly proclaim, “We are free-spirited adventurers! We plan nothing!”
Well, it doesn’t take them long to realize when they’re screwing up their trip.
Palermo is actually an incredibly complex, bustling and vast city with one of the most extensive historical districts in Europe, lots of attractions to explore and activities to partake in.
And let’s not forget the never-ending list of beaches.
Oh and there’s also the charming little detail of no one speaking English, dodgy public transport, and utter pandemonium. All that without a plan? Good luck to ya.
You’ll spend your whole time there with your eyes glued to your phone in confusion and frustration, desperately trying to figure out what to do. Don’t do that to yourself.
Wanna make the most out of your trip to Italy? Make sure you plan an itinerary!
Having a well-crafted itinerary can save us loads of time and money while enhancing our experience tenfold in any tourist destination. This is especially true in Sicily, where, unfortunately, it’s not the ideal place for disorganized folks.
Mistake number 3: Knowing nothing about the attractions
If I showed you this drawing “La battaglia di Anghiari,” you’d probably think “what a crappy doodle.”
But if I told you it was a Leonardo Da Vinci drawing, and told you the story behind it, you’d probably be like “ohhh wow, that’s soooo beautiful!”
Observing a monument or an attraction knowing nothing about it and without listening to its story, is like watching a movie without sound; after a few minutes, you can’t take it anymore and switch it off.
Now, you don’t have to chug down a Sicilian history book, but you should try to get the gist of at least two or three basic points.
Or if you’re feeling particularly lazy, find audio guides, especially for those monuments outside where there are no descriptions.
Otherwise, you might be gazing at monuments without getting their significance
Don’t be a history expert, but grasp the basics of Sicilian history or use audio guides. Otherwise, visiting attractions would be a waste of time.
Mistake number 4: Thinking that here, we only eat street food and pizza
There are hot dogs everywhere in the US, but that doesn’t mean Americans only eat hot dogs, right?
Likewise, though the tourist spots here are jam-packed with street food, pasta and pizza, it doesn’t mean we stuff our faces with it all day, every day!
Sometimes, I hear people go “Sicilian food is so heavy, only pizza, pasta and street food.” No, compadre it’s you who didn’t take the time to investigate what and where to eat.
Sicilian cuisine is a downright taste fest, thanks to the global influences it’s had. And the major portion of our diet is made up of fish and vegetables.
But of course, tourist hotspots don’t showcase boiled artichokes and phallic-shaped Sicilian zucchini.
Instead, they focus on the more ‘attractive’ – and of course heavy – dishes. So if you want to make sure you truly experience Sicilian cuisine in all its glory, do yourself a favor and do some reading beforehand.
Like Spaniards with paella, English with fish and chips, and Americans with hot dogs, Sicilians don’t just eat street food. But if you want an authentic local experience, do your homework and discover where to eat.
5. Assuming that everyone speaks English
Give us Italians a brush and we’ll fresco church ceilings. Give us a piece of fabric and we’ll design the most fashionable dress of the season.
But learning foreign languages isn’t exactly our forte.
Don’t be like: “Oh, we’ll make do! We’ll talk with the locals, and it will all work out!” Don’t rely on the locals to help you out.
Don’t get me wrong, they’ll try their best. But apart from the 50 basic words the locals know to give you some directions, no one’s able to really converse in English.
What can you do to make your time easier in Italy? Try to arrive well-educated about everything and just ask for basic info like directions.
That’s it! So no slacking off! Do your homework and create an itinerary before coming to Sicily.
You know, Italians, in general, aren’t the best at learning English for various reasons (long story). So, if you want to chat with them, just stick to keywords and simple terms, and speak as slow as possible
In conclusion, don’t forget: your dream trip to Palermo, Sicily can easily go from being an enlightening cultural immersion to a chaotic travel nightmare if you ignore some key advice.
Forget about TripAdvisor, the locals aren’t there! Instead, use word of mouth to get the true Sicilian gastronomical experience.
Plan an itinerary and educate yourself about attractions you are about to visit – don’t just go for the visual spectacle.
Remember, Sicilian cuisine isn’t limited to street food or pizza; broaden your horizons and delve into a whole new world of fish and vegetables.
Finally, don’t assume everyone in Italy speaks English. Few locals can hold an English conversation, so it’s best to stick with simple words and phrases.
Remember, traveling is as much about the journey as the destination, so don’t make mistakes you can easily avoid. And remember, no slacking off! The most enjoyable trips are the ones you prepare for.
Palermo awaits you, so do your homework and dive in, the Sicilian way!