Welcome to General Information

GENERAL INFORMATION

Messina Excursions and Main Information Palermo Excursions and Main Information Trapani Excursions and Main Information Agrigento Excursions and Main Information Pozzallo Excursions and Main Information Siracusa Excursions and Main Information Catania Excursions and Main Information

SICILIAN TOWN-INFORMATION:

Taormina | Messina | Palermo | Trapani | Pozzallo | Agrigento Siracusa | Catania

 

GENERAL INFORMATION:

Sicilian Food | Gratuities | Emergencies | Medications | Disabled Travelers | Shopping & VAT | Passaport & Valid Documents

What to Pack? Currency | Telephones | Luggage Handling

General Safety | Sicilian Dialect | Clothing | Advice for women

Smoking | People Interaction | Italian Phrases

SICILIAN FOOD:

SICILIAN FOOD:

Sicily is an island and there is a heavy emphasis on fish. 

Sicilian meals typically begin with an appetizer, followed by pasta and then your main course.  Please keep in mind that the food in Italy and Sicily might not be the same type of Italian food that you are used to in your hometown.

Sicily is famous for cassata, cannoli, almond pastry and marzipan, so save room for dessert!

GRATUITIES (We Suggest):

GRATUITIES (We Suggest):

-The suggested amount for the Driver Escort/Driver Guide/Licensed Tourist Guide-Driver have to be an average between EURO 30,00 to EURO 50,00 (for a full day excursion) per day based on the efficiency and service you receive.


-Gratuities to restaurants are never included in the bill.  The restaurant cover charge is not a tip.  If paying with credit cards in Italy & Sicily, please be so kind as to pay your tip separately in cash to the waiter.  This should be 10% of the total bill.

-The use of public toilets requires a payment to the attendant of EURO 0,30 cents. Public toilet charge EURO 0,50 cents.

-Do tip taxi drivers about one/two euro, more if it was a longer trip.

MEDICATIONS:

MEDICATIONS:

In Italy, you cannot purchase medicine in grocery stores.  You must purchase all medications in a pharmacy.

Most pharmacies are open from 9.00 am to 1.00 pm and from 4.00 pm to 8.00 pm.  However, if you find the nearest pharmacy closed, there should be another one open somewhere in the area (they take turns for overnight duty).

If you catch a cold or the flu with a fever and you need to get some paracetamol, the right medicine for you is “Tachipirina” to lower your fever.

If you need pain relief, ask for “Moment” (it is Ibuprofen).

If you have heart burn ask for “Malox”.

These suggested medicines can be purchased without a prescription in every pharmacy.

WHEELCHAIRS OR CANE:

DISABLED TRAVELRS:

ü    Please advise us in advance if arrive in Sicily with a folding wheelchair or with a cane. This is because we need to verify if our tour/excursion fit you needs.

 SHOPPING & VAT:

SHOPPING & VAT:

ü    -Shops are generally closed from 1:00 PM until 4:00 PM for lunch and close at approximately  7:30-8:00 PM.

ü    -Do ask about a VAT (value-added tax) refund when you purchase more than 155 EUROS of goods in one store.  If the store participates in the "Tax Free for Tourists," you can get the tax, called the IVA, refunded at the last European airport on your journey.

ü    -Keep your Currency Exchange forms if you plan to change money back to another currency.

ü    -Ask for a receipt of your bills from the shopping establishments.  By Italian Law, you must obtain them before leaving the premises.  Do keep track of your purchases as Customs will ask you about them when you return to your country.

ü    -In Italy, eating snacks is not a problem.  However, if you want to use restaurants, they open at certain times of the day: 12:30 PM until 2:30 PM and from 7:00 PM until 10:30 PM.

PASSPORT & VALID DOCUMENTS:

PASSPORT & VALID DOCUMENTS:

ü    Visitors to Italy require a valid passport or documents.

ü    We are not responsible for lost, misplaced, altered or destroyed passports or documentation that may delay, change or affect your travel.

We also recommend you you store your passport at hotel and keep with you a passport-photocopy.

WHAT TO PACK?

WHAT TO PACK?

The most important ingredient to a successful tour/excursion is exploration.  Please pack comfortable walking shoes.  Sicily has a lot of steps and archaeological sites, so please pack accordingly.  For city walking, wear comfortable shoes or athletic shoes. 

Raingear is essential and a little umbrella could be handy.  Always pack a light sweater or jacket, even in the summer. Bring your own film and then develop it at home.

Consider bringing a disposable camera or two.

CURRENCY:

CURRENCY:

ü    -The EURO is the currency accepted in Italy. The preferred method of payment is the EURO or a major credit card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express).

ü    -Traveler’s checks are not welcomed by local merchants.

ü    -Check with your bank to determine whether or not your ATM card will work overseas and find out what is the maximum amount of cash is that can be dispensed on a daily basis. (Note:  The maximum amount available for withdrawl in Europe is usually less for “foreign” ATM cards.  If you try to withdraw an amount and have problems, try again selecting a smaller amount to withdraw).

ü    -When you land at the airport, there is an ATM cash machine.  We suggest you use your bank cash card to obtain cash.  Euro will be dispensed and the exchange rate will be calculated the day of your withdrawal and it will be the official approved rate. There are also ATM machines next to every bank while you are on the tour.

ü    -If you do not have a cash card, you can go to the currency desk and they will exchange your currency into EURO.  The other option is to go to your local bank BEFORE leaving your country and obtain EURO.  Please do this well in advance of your trip as some local banks might need to order EURO from their main branch.

ü    -Check your currency to EURO exchange rate online at www.xe.com

 TELEPHONES:

TELEPHONES:

If you would like to use the cell phone from your country in Italy, you must contact your local cell phone company.

LUGGAGE HANDLING (for Tours only):

LUGGAGE HANDLING (for Tours only):

Please note that you are responsible for your baggage handling on our itinerary. If you engage a bell man from the hotel, it is expected that you will tip him. We suggest to pay tip for EURO 1,00 for each luggage.

 

Please note that our tour includes ONE piece of luggage and ONE small carry-on bag. You will be responsible for this luggage throughout the program and it will not be included in the Porterage.

 

If you have more than one piece of luggage, please let us know at booking time as this cost needs to be calculated and this determines the size of the transportation necessary. Please keep in mind that vehicles and their trunks in Italy and Sicily are smaller.

EMERGENCIES

EMERGENCIES

The military police (Carabinieri) and civil police (Polizia) are contactable by telephoning 113.

The fire service can be reached on 115; road assistance on 116. Embassies or Consulars can assist you in case of needs:

 

USA CONSULAR AGENCY PALERMO

Mailing address: via Vaccarini, 1 – 90143 PALERMO
Phone: (+39) 091.305.857
Fax: (+39) 091.625.6026

U.S. Citizen Services Open to the public:
Monday through Friday 9:00 AM-12:30 PM by appointment only.
To schedule an appointment, please e-mail: uscitizenspalermo@state.gov or telephone (+39) 091.305.857

For more information Go: http://www.usis.it

 

British honorary Consulate, Palermo

Luigi Tagliavia, Honorary Consul - British Consulate
Via Cavour 117 - 90133 Palermo PA

Phone:  (0039) 091 326412
Fax: (0039) 091 3804901
Email

Open to the public:
Monday-Friday (excluding Tuesday): 09:30AM-12:30PM

For more information Go: http://www.britain.it

 

British honorary Consulate, Catania

Richard Brown, Honorary Consul - British Consulate
Via Nicola Coviello, 27 - 95128 Catania
Phone: (0039) 095 716 7336
Email

Open to the public:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:00 – 12:30

For more information Go: http://www.britain.it

GENERAL SAFETY:

GENERAL SAFETY:

GENERAL SAFETY:

Sicily is a pretty safe island. You should take obvious precautions, as in any city around the world, such as keeping any bags and possessions under your control and being alert for bag-snatchers and pickpockets in crowded places (for example, the metro, local markets and buses).
Sicilian Dialect:

Sicilian Dialect:

Sicilian (u sicilianu, Italian: lingua siciliana, also known as Siculu) is a Romance language. Its dialects comprise the Italiano Meridionale-estremo language group, which are spoken on the island of Sicily and its satellite islands; Some assert that Sicilian represents the oldest Romance language derived from Vulgar Latin (Privitera, 2004), but this is not a widely-held view amongst linguists. For instance, Cipolla describes such a view as radical.

It is currently spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Sicily and by immigrant populations around the world. The latter are to be found in the countries which attracted large numbers of Sicilian immigrants during the course of the past century or so, especially the United States, Canada, Australia and Argentina. In the past two or three decades, large numbers of Sicilians were also attracted to the industrial zones of northern Italy and indeed the rest of the European Union, especially Germany. Sicilian is not recognized as an official language anywhere in the world, even within Italy. There is currently no central body, in Sicily or elsewhere, that regulates the language in any way. The autonomous regional parliament of Sicily has legislated to encourage the teaching of Sicilian at all schools, but inroads into the education system have been slow.

CLOTHING:

CLOTHING:

Whole essays can be written about the Italians' relationships with clothes. Some observations:
1. Sometimes clothing rules are written. To visit a church or religious site you will need to cover yourself up; no bare backs, chests, shoulders and sometimes no bare knees. Sometimes museums and other attractions can also be strict; no bathing suits, for example. If you want to visit a church or religious site it's a good idea to carry a shawl or something with you so you can cover up. Even where there are no written rules, please use good judgement and respect the customs of the area....you're not at home and a little more "prudent" behavior is always appreciated by locals.

2. Italians are very conformist about clothing; everyone wears the same fashions, from teenagers to grannies, which can be shocking at times. And it's normal to be glared at if you are not wearing the latest customised jeans or super hip boots.
3. It's important not to judge people by their choice of clothing. Styles do not necessarily carry the same connotations in Italy that they would in other countries. A woman in fishnets, stilettos and miniskirt with caked-on makeup at eight in the morning is probably just going to work in a bank. Almost all youths lounge about in skin-tight t-shirts with their rear-ends squishing out of jeans.
ADVISE FOR WOMEN:
ADVISE FOR WOMEN:

"Sexual harassment" is not regarded in the same way in Sicily-Italy as in other countries. The general atmosphere is pretty unreconstructed, and women should be prepared for attention :-). However, the tone of this "attention" is generally less aggressive than you may be used to. Men will call out compliments such as "bona" (beautiful in Sicilian language) instead of muttering crude suggestions. And culturally, these comments are not seen as insults; if you respond angrily or insultingly everyone will be very surprised. Whereas women of other nationalities may be used to telling strangers (in no uncertain terms) to shut up and go away, in Sicily the norm is to ignore the attention. In any case, responding in English or in imperfect Italian will only encourage more attention. It's best to do as the Sicilian-Italian women do, and sail past with your head held high. If you avoid eye contact and don't respond, you are extremely unlikely to be pursued or hassled further.

SMOKING:

SMOKING:

Since January 2005, smoking has been banned in all enclosed public places that do not offer sealed off rooms equipped with smoke extractors. The controversial new law covers i.e. bars, restaurants, offices, public buildings, public transports and cinemas. Smokers face fines is up to EURO 275, whilst businesses could be hit for EURO 2.000.

PEOPLE INTERACTION:

PEOPLE INTERACTION:

Speaking a little Italian goes a long way with the people. You should be able to greet someone, thank someone, acknowledge someone else's thanks and maybe even say "How are you?"
Italians like most Europeans tend to be a bit more formal than Americans. Italians are very friendly people, but we start out a little more slowly than Americans do.
"Buon giorno" means "good morning(
bwon JOHR-noh)" & "good day."

"Buon pomeriggio" is used less often. It means "Good afternoon."
"Buona sera" means "Good evening" as a greeting. "Buona notte (
BWOH-nah NOHT-tah)" means "Good night" as a departure.
Do not use "Ciao" until you have become acquaintances. Let them say it first, then you know it's OK to say it to them! :-)
"Grazie (
GRAH-tsyeh)" means "Thank you" and "Prego" means "please", "you're welcome" or even "after you" (when for example someone opens a door for you and says, "Prego" they are indicating that you should walk through first.
When you walk into a store or other establishment you should as a matter of course greet them with one of those time-dependent greetings. A quick, "Buon giorno" is the polite thing to say.
It is doubtful that you will have to do the "Italian greeting", but in case you meet someone who wants to, grasp their hands in yours, kiss each cheek lightly and quickly and say, "Ciao (
chow)" each time.
ITALIAN PHRASES:

ITALIAN PHRASES:

COURTESY                                                                     

Please:  Per favore (pehr fah-VOH-reh); 
Thank you: Grazie (GRAH-tsyeh);
You're welcome: Prego (PREH-goh); 
Sorry: Scusi (SKOO-zee);
Excuse me:  Permesso.(pehr-MEHS-soh);

 

GREETINGS                                                                   

Good morning: Buon giorno (bwon JOHR-noh); 
Good evening: Buona sera (BWOH-nah SEH-rah); 

Good night: Buona notte (BWOH-nah NOHT-tah;

Hello (formal): Salve (SAHL-veh);  
Good-bye (formal): Arrivederci (ahr-ree-veh-DEHR-chee);    
Hello or Good-bye (informal): Ciao (chow); 
                                                                            

APPROACHING SOMEONE FOR HELP              

Sir: signore (see-NYOH-reh); 
Madam/Mrs: signora (see-NYOH-rah); 
Miss/Ms: signorina (see-nyoh-REE-nah);
Do you speak English?: Parla inglese? (PAHR-lah een-GLEH-zeh?);
Yes: Sì (see);                                        
No: No (noh);
I'm sorry: Mi dispiace (mee dee-SPYAH-cheh)
I don't speak Italian: Non parlo italiano (nohn PAHR-loh ee-tah-LYAH-noh);
I understand a little: Capisco un pò (ka-PEE-skoh oon poh);
Please repeat: Per favore ripeta (pehr-fah-VOH-reh ree-PEH-tah);
Could you please help me?: Può aiutarmi, per favore? (pwoh ah-yoo-TAHR-mee, pehr fah-VOH-reh?);
Of course: Certamente (cher-tah-MEHN-teh) 
Where is the bathroom?: Dov'è la toletta? (doh-VEH lah toh-eh-LEHT-tah?)                    
Thank you very much: Mille grazie (MEEL-leh GRAH-tsyeh);

 

PAYING THE BILL                         

The bill, please: Il conto, por favore (eel KOHN-toh pehr fah-VOH-reh);
How much do I owe you?: Quanto Le devo? (KWAHN-toh leh DEH-voh?) 

 

For more phrases and words surf on the following web-site: Italian for Travelers by Fodor's