Italy- The Ultimate Tips To Blend In With The Locals`
Do you feel a pang of embarrassment when you see the classic “Brit abroad”? The socks and sandals, the yelling phrasing in English in the hope that said generic non-Engish speaker will understand them? We know, we feel it too, the low-level shame! We want to blend in with the locals and never has this been more necessary than in Sicily; where the locals ooze cool, charm and style. Sicily is a mesmerising island 365 days a year, but it comes to life in the Summer, so given that a Sicilian adventure could be just around the corner, it begs the question, “how can I blend in with the locals in Sicily”?
If you are one of those lucky people travelling to beautiful Sicily, then blending in with the locals is part of the experience. Embrace the culture, the land, the way of life… be part of it and let Sicily be part of you!
Here are the ultimate tips on how to fit in with the locals, so that you can feel like a real Sicilian!
Stop off at a typical Sicilian kiosk to refuel with a “seltz limone e sale”
A traditional & trendy drink for the Sicilians made with fresh lemon, soda water and salt, sold in all kiosks and drank to refuel the body with the nutrients needed after a lot of sweating on hot summer days…
For all you gentlemen who like to get a good tan, then don’t be embarrassed to get out the speedos!
Believe us, you will not stand out! In fact, it’s only the foreign men who wear long baggy shorts all the way up to their knees who stand out, as Sicilian men, of all shapes and sizes, are entirely confident in skimpy little speedos!
Enjoy a siesta like the Sicilians do.
This applies in South Italy more than anywhere else. A siesta? An afternoon nap that makes perfect sense! Imagine a scorching Summers day, you’ve spent all morning at the beach, you’ve had a wonderful lunch and a glass or two of wine… it’s the hottest hours of the day… how inviting does that bedroom seem, with closed blinds and cool aircon?! The best thing to do after lunch is to go for a wonderful relaxing afternoon snooze, it gets you away from the dangerous sun rays at peak time, and it will keep you going for longer in the evening, as Sicilians generally go out later and dine later than the Brits!
A Pit stop at the local bar for an espresso and quick chat after lunch is a prevalent habit the Sicilians have.
So if you like espresso, then why not do it how the locals do it!
FYI - It’s not recommended to order a cappuccino after breakfast, and it’s even worse to order one with a meal. If you do, then you can expect to at least see a shake of the waiter’s head, as this is a violation of the Italian food rule & culinary integrity! Italians love their cappuccinos and caffe lattes, but these are breakfast drinks, to be eaten with a croissant or biscuits. Italians strongly believe that drinking milk after any meal will mess up the ability to digest food properly and can cause acidity/indigestion. So having a
Cappuccino at any time after lunch, or after dinner, in Italy is unthinkable, and this applies even more in Sicily with the hotter temperatures that put people off even more to drinking a hot milky drink any time after breakfast.
Try breakfast with Granita and brioche….
Yes, it’s very different to bacon & eggs, but it truly is delicious and super refreshing. This is a ubiquitous breakfast for Sicilians during the summer months. Granita is a simple mix of granulated ice with sugar and fresh fruits, nuts or coffee, invented in Sicily and often eaten with a brioche, best described as a slightly sweet bread bun. The most common breakfast granita is coffee flavour with whipped cream yum yum!
Wine & Food Pairings
If you want to feel Sicilian at a restaurant, then remember these rules: white meat (including fish) = white wine, red meat = red wine & most importantly no parmesan on fish, or even worse, on your main course! Oh and one more thing, Sicilians eat salad as a side dish, not as a starter…
Yes, Italian food is loved by everyone, however, there are rules, and there are rules for a reason, a wonderfully tasty dish, can easily be spoiled by covering it with overpowering or stronger flavours, so if you stick to rules, you’ll be sure to taste the real thing exactly how mamma intended it to taste!
Before going to Sicily, you may want to learn the difference between an “aperitivo” and “digestivo”, as these drinking rituals are part of the Sicilian culture.
Italians, in general, are so much more sophisticated about what they drink. They are responsible drinkers, preferring lightly alcoholic drinks and always pairing the drink to the food so that one compliments the other. The ritual of the Italian aperitivo, the pre-dinner glass, that “opens your stomach” and gets your digestive juices flowing is designed so you can fully enjoy your upcoming meal. The habit of taking an aperitivo in the evening before a meal is enormously popular in Italy, and even more in Sicily where people are so much more laid back and eat later in the evening.
Drinks like prosecco, Aperol, vermouth, a spritz or Campari are part of the typical Italian aperitivo hour, an after-work or pre-outing ritual that offers a moment of relaxation at the end of a day or the beginning of an evening, where you go for a pre-dinner drink to nibble and socialise with friends.
And as the evening draws to a close and you’ve had a wonderful filling meal, your after-dinner espresso is followed by a drink known as a digestivo.
Sometimes referred to as an amazzacaffe “coffee killer” for the fact that you take it after you’ve had your after-dinner espresso. Digestivi are after-dinner drinks to help you digest your meal. Drinks like Averna, Strega, Limoncello and Grappa are much-appreciated by Italians for their digestive properties. Mixtures of herbs, roots, barks, flowers and spices, Italian digestivi are traditionally known for their restorative properties. Try it to taste it, enjoy it, believe it!
So there you have it. After reading this article, you may as well ring the passport office and apply to be a national.
We hope that the article helps you feel more comfortable, truly relax and unwind in Sicily knowing that you are having an authentic and genuine experience of this captivating island. Our best advice is to take in all the sights and sounds of the Island, be open to live life more Italian.