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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I hear a lot of news from the other regions (Strangely Pescara seems to be the most talked about :p) and periodically I just like to put feelers out their incase anyone in Sicily would like to get in touch. Can be a suprisingly large and lonely island at times.

If anyone wants to get in touch let me know :)

Kenzo
 

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Moving to Palermo

I've recently been offered a job in Palermo (starting in October I'm sure) although I'm still waiting on the official paperwork before I completely commit myself to going. I speak no Italian but I figure that I have a few months to learn some basics before I leave; I recently started trying to get a handle on the real basics, I speak a fair bit of Spanish and there's a lot of crossover.

I've been looking about a bit too to try and give myself an idea of what to expect and there really doesn't seem to be any sort of expat community in Sicily at all, nothing on meet up or facebook at least.

I'd like to integrate as much as possible (naturally) but it's always nice to know other brits when the culture shock gets too much.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've recently been offered a job in Palermo (starting in October I'm sure) although I'm still waiting on the official paperwork before I completely commit myself to going. I speak no Italian but I figure that I have a few months to learn some basics before I leave; I recently started trying to get a handle on the real basics, I speak a fair bit of Spanish and there's a lot of crossover.

I've been looking about a bit too to try and give myself an idea of what to expect and there really doesn't seem to be any sort of expat community in Sicily at all, nothing on meet up or facebook at least.

I'd like to integrate as much as possible (naturally) but it's always nice to know other brits when the culture shock gets too much.
Hi Iain,

Yeah so far I have not really found any sort of expat community down here. I spent 10 years holidaying in Spain (Menorca) and you see a lot of expat meet ups etc but here in Sicily on that side of things it is quite dire in all honesty. Seems a bit stronger up north.

If you have a grip of Spanish then the Italian will come quite quickly I moved over here a couple of years ago full time (and spent a couple of years going back and forth before that) I only spoke English but now I am relatively fluent in conversational Italian. Just be careful when talking to people that the conversation is in Italian and not Sicilian. Sicilian is a whole different ball game.

Yeah it is always a good thing to have a fellow brit when you realise the crazy hoops you have to jump through down here just to do the simplest of things. I was trying to change my residential address last week to be told my street doesnt exist :doh:

Have you got previous knowledge of Sicily and Palermo? Could be worth a weekend break before moving out permanently.

Kenzo
 

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I spent a year doing an internship in Germany, living in quite a small city and even there, there was multiple groups of expats meeting up around monthly, Palermo by comparison seems much larger and yet there's nothing.

I know that there's a fair amount of foreigners who I'll be working with and there's a lot of erasmus students in the city (I'm 23 so probably not too old to hang around with students, especially if I take language classes and have an excuse to) so I won't go crazy.

I spent a semester studying at a uni in Portugal three years ago and the laid back nature of everyone when I had deadlines drove me crazy, otherwise I love the country and would go back in a second.

I've got no previous knowledge of Sicily or Palermo other than a couple of friends from Catania, maybe a little break wouldn't be such a bad idea but I'm in the process of saving up for spending money and rent money until my first pay cheque comes in. So I don't know how possible it'll be.

Iain
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I spent a year doing an internship in Germany, living in quite a small city and even there, there was multiple groups of expats meeting up around monthly, Palermo by comparison seems much larger and yet there's nothing.

I know that there's a fair amount of foreigners who I'll be working with and there's a lot of erasmus students in the city (I'm 23 so probably not too old to hang around with students, especially if I take language classes and have an excuse to) so I won't go crazy.

I spent a semester studying at a uni in Portugal three years ago and the laid back nature of everyone when I had deadlines drove me crazy, otherwise I love the country and would go back in a second.

I've got no previous knowledge of Sicily or Palermo other than a couple of friends from Catania, maybe a little break wouldn't be such a bad idea but I'm in the process of saving up for spending money and rent money until my first pay cheque comes in. So I don't know how possible it'll be.

Iain
Hi Iain,

There is a lot in what you have said firing off a lot of alarm bells.

Sicily really is different in terms of mentality to the rest of europe and experiences in Germany and Portugal will not help you here. The "way of living" here really is somewhere between european and african because of the various influences of both types of culture throughout history.

Portugal is a buzzing metropolitan country in comparison to Sicily. "Laid back" is what the full time employed citizens of Sicily are... Students and the general populus are so laid back that on the whole they are asleep! This has its plus points but in all honesty if you think Portugal is laid back and it "drove you crazy" I would strongly recommend getting yourself over here for a week and talking to people.

Also the differences between Catania and Palermo are vast. Palermo is the main city and Catania is the second city. With that said Catania is more modern, richer and has better connections with Italy, whereas Palermo is poorer, older style and is incredibly unorganised.

With the above said there is a lot of scaremongering on forums. You won't come over and have a miserable time and of all the people who know how to enjoy their time, if you will be around students you should be fine. From what you have said you are in for a strong culture shock, I know I had one. So be prepared for that and if you can invest in a week over here before you commit to full time, it will be well worth the investment.

I hope the above can give you at least some insight but if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Kenzo
 

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Hi Iain,

There is a lot in what you have said firing off a lot of alarm bells.

Sicily really is different in terms of mentality to the rest of europe and experiences in Germany and Portugal will not help you here. The "way of living" here really is somewhere between european and african because of the various influences of both types of culture throughout history.

Portugal is a buzzing metropolitan country in comparison to Sicily. "Laid back" is what the full time employed citizens of Sicily are... Students and the general populus are so laid back that on the whole they are asleep! This has its plus points but in all honesty if you think Portugal is laid back and it "drove you crazy" I would strongly recommend getting yourself over here for a week and talking to people.

Also the differences between Catania and Palermo are vast. Palermo is the main city and Catania is the second city. With that said Catania is more modern, richer and has better connections with Italy, whereas Palermo is poorer, older style and is incredibly unorganised.

With the above said there is a lot of scaremongering on forums. You won't come over and have a miserable time and of all the people who know how to enjoy their time, if you will be around students you should be fine. From what you have said you are in for a strong culture shock, I know I had one. So be prepared for that and if you can invest in a week over here before you commit to full time, it will be well worth the investment.

I hope the above can give you at least some insight but if you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask.

Kenzo
Hi Kenzo,

Thanks for this. I've heard a lot of this scaremongering that you've mentioned but I've always just written it off as people being unable to cope with things not being the same as at home, so I've never paid it too much attention.

I'm fully expecting a culture shock but I'm pretty adaptable, I think. The only problem that I really see is that every other time I've spent extended periods abroad, I've been on a study abroad programme and therefore the majority of my contacts have been foreigners too, meaning that I've probably never experienced true culture shock before.

I should say, I only went slightly crazy in Portugal because I left everything until the last moment and then while I was rushing around trying to get stuff finished, no one seemed to understand my hurry; I think I've learned my lesson.

I'll definitely look into getting a bit of time in Palermo before I move over but I'm pretty committed to moving there full time anyway so I guess I'll just have to suck it up.

In any case, thanks for your help and your concern and if I think of anything to ask, you'll be my first port of call.

Iain
 

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Hello, my husband and I are flying off to Palermo tomorrow and this will be our first trip to Italy for about 3-4 weeks. We are godfather fans btw but have no idea how much time is worth spending in Sicily. Advice?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hello, my husband and I are flying off to Palermo tomorrow and this will be our first trip to Italy for about 3-4 weeks. We are godfather fans btw but have no idea how much time is worth spending in Sicily. Advice?
First rule of Sicily and the Godfather... Do not mention the Godfather! (With that said though they do cash in on the tourist souveniers etc).

The actual Mafia were not fans of the films and in regards to the locals the Mafia is not the romantic thing it is to us foreigners, it has deeply affected the lives of people in Sicily and it is a banned topic to discuss! Alot of Sicilians have not even watched the films. :whistle::lalala:

With that said, should you wish to go to Corleone you may be disappointed. Most of the film was shot actually around by Savoca and Forza d'Agro which is near Taormina. Corleone even back when the films were shot was not considered to have the correct 'feel' as it was too developed.

Sicily as a whole is agricultural rather than touristy. There is no equivalent to Benidorm here so you can really get a feel for a different type of tourism. In terms of Sicily I would recommend the smaller towns over the bigger cities. The bigger cities are littered with trash, noise, pollution and stray dogs. To discover the beauty you must try the smaller places such as Cefalù which is beautiful, Castelbuono if you like a small mountain towns or Bagheria if you want something between big and small. Pollina is also a mountain top town which is quite a feat not for the faint hearted. Public transport is Ok, trains are better than buses, if you are renting a car be careful, people drive like maniacs down here, especially in Palermo.

I have attached a photo of Cefalù so you can get an idea of what I mean. Hope it is useful. If you have any other questions let me know :)

Kenzo
 

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If you have a grip of Spanish then the Italian will come quite quickly I moved over here a couple of years ago full time (and spent a couple of years going back and forth before that) I only spoke English but now I am relatively fluent in conversational Italian. Just be careful when talking to people that the conversation is in Italian and not Sicilian. Sicilian is a whole different ball game.
This is not quite right. Sicilian is not a whole different ball game. It's the Italian language spoken in Sicilian dialect, which can vary yet again from town to town. Every region of Italy has it's own dialect and every native Italian understands the dialects of the particular regions as well as modern Italian, of course. You aren't getting the Sicilian dialect because you're not a native.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Cefalù looks superb!
It really is and in terms of tourism is still quite unspoiled.

No McDonalds and the like. The beach there does get busy but not too bad.

Its definitely worth a day visit, has some nice (if not expensive) restaurants and bars. I would reccomend a visit to the Carre Lounge if your looking for a bar, The White Horse for a Pizzeria and Via Roma Vecchia for a restaurant.

*Other restaurants, bars and pizzerias are available. :ban::D
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is not quite right. Sicilian is not a whole different ball game. It's the Italian language spoken in Sicilian dialect, which can vary yet again from town to town. Every region of Italy has it's own dialect and every native Italian understands the dialects of the particular regions as well as modern Italian, of course. You aren't getting the Sicilian dialect because you're not a native.
:boink::lol:

This is true. I am not native, however the Dialect can not be considered the same as an accent. I find it difficult to understand Scots (Sorry) coming from the Southwest but although the turn of phrases can be different in rare cases it is the same language.

Sicilian like the other southern dialects are quite diverse in comparison to the northern dialects. You are right in saying it can also vary town to town. My wife speaks Castelbuonese but struggles to understand people from Agrigento if they are speaking in their dialect. Let alone further a field such as Napolitano or Milanese. The Modern Italian is understood country wide but speaking to my wifes grandmother in Italian is not easy for her, she prefers Sicilian and I have seen a person from Rome not have a clue what she is on about.

Sicilian has many influences that northern states do not have and this can make things between the north and south very confusing. Thanks to modern media etc the gap is getting smaller ma pica pica (poco poco).

The essence of what I am saying is the difference between Sicilian and Italian can not be measured the same as the difference between Geordie and Mancunian and to a foreigner coming over with little to no experience it can be disheartening to feel you are not understanding Italian when in fact no one is talking Italian and instead talking Sicilian, which is the real reason you are not understanding.

With that said the difference between Italian and Sicilian is not the same as the difference between Italian and Russian. The ground rules are still there and the vocabulary is on the whole mixed. So describing it as a "Whole Different Ball Game" is probably a little extreme but to a non native it is.

Every region of Italy has it's own dialect and every native Italian understands the dialects of the particular regions as well as modern Italian, of course. You aren't getting the Sicilian dialect because you're not a native.
My wife very strongly disagrees with this. She is a native Sicilian. Understanding the various dialects means you have intricate knowledge. On the whole things can be worked out but she would not be able to translate the song Funiculi funicula for example with 100% accuracy. A song I happen to love even if I dont have a clue:p

As modern Italian is based around Tuscan (Florentine Dialect) the northern areas do all understand each other a little better than the southern.

From Wikipedia: The Ethnologue (see below for more detail) describes Sicilian as being "distinct enough from Standard Italian to be considered a separate language" (Gordon) and is recognized as a "minority language" by UNESCO.

Kenzo
 

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First rule of Sicily and the Godfather... Do not mention the Godfather! (With that said though they do cash in on the tourist souveniers etc).

The actual Mafia were not fans of the films and in regards to the locals the Mafia is not the romantic thing it is to us foreigners, it has deeply affected the lives of people in Sicily and it is a banned topic to discuss! Alot of Sicilians have not even watched the films. :whistle::lalala:

With that said, should you wish to go to Corleone you may be disappointed. Most of the film was shot actually around by Savoca and Forza d'Agro which is near Taormina. Corleone even back when the films were shot was not considered to have the correct 'feel' as it was too developed.

Sicily as a whole is agricultural rather than touristy. There is no equivalent to Benidorm here so you can really get a feel for a different type of tourism. In terms of Sicily I would recommend the smaller towns over the bigger cities. The bigger cities are littered with trash, noise, pollution and stray dogs. To discover the beauty you must try the smaller places such as Cefalù which is beautiful, Castelbuono if you like a small mountain towns or Bagheria if you want something between big and small. Pollina is also a mountain top town which is quite a feat not for the faint hearted. Public transport is Ok, trains are better than buses, if you are renting a car be careful, people drive like maniacs down here, especially in Palermo.

I have attached a photo of Cefalù so you can get an idea of what I mean. Hope it is useful. If you have any other questions let me know :)

Kenzo
Thank you so much for the rapid response! We are thinking of making Palermo as a base, rather than say, Taormina, having read the raves on it but we would also like to do the Aeolian islands as well. Cefalu is on the list. Can we get on with English there or will talking with our hands suffice? My husband is a Spanish speaker though
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you so much for the rapid response! We are thinking of making Palermo as a base, rather than say, Taormina, having read the raves on it but we would also like to do the Aeolian islands as well. Cefalu is on the list. Can we get on with English there or will talking with our hands suffice? My husband is a Spanish speaker though
In general you will get on with English, talking with your hands is always a winner in Italy!

Try and look for the younger waiters, shop assistants and bar staff as they are more likely to have a grasp of English in comparison to the older generation.

I dont have too much knowledge of the islands to be honest but Palermo is a solid base as it is well connected by all modes of transport at most hours of the day unlike the smaller towns which if you miss the last bus can be impossible to get to.

If using taxis make sure you agree a price before hand, do not go 'on the meter'. If the driver insists wave him on and find another taxi. In general a good tip is to buy a drink in a bar and ask the bar to call a good cheap taxi. The bar will want to keep you happy in the hope you come back.

Spanish will help to a certain extent but really French, German and English are the foreign languages spoken here. Still no harm in trying.

Kenzo
 

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In general you will get on with English, talking with your hands is always a winner in Italy!

Try and look for the younger waiters, shop assistants and bar staff as they are more likely to have a grasp of English in comparison to the older generation.

I dont have too much knowledge of the islands to be honest but Palermo is a solid base as it is well connected by all modes of transport at most hours of the day unlike the smaller towns which if you miss the last bus can be impossible to get to.

If using taxis make sure you agree a price before hand, do not go 'on the meter'. If the driver insists wave him on and find another taxi. In general a good tip is to buy a drink in a bar and ask the bar to call a good cheap taxi. The bar will want to keep you happy in the hope you come back.

Spanish will help to a certain extent but really French, German and English are the foreign languages spoken here. Still no harm in trying.

Kenzo
Great, Thanks again for the awesome advice! Now im getting really excited for tonights flight!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great, Thanks again for the awesome advice! Now im getting really excited for tonights flight!
Good good! Another pro tip!

Immediately outside the airport you will be greeted by never ending taxis which will want €40-€80 to get you to Palermo, the airport is a little bit outside.

If you exit the airport and walk to the right. and carry on straight you will find some buses which will take you to the central train station for €4-€8 per person.:thumb:

If you get in the elevator and go down to the bottom floor you can also find the trains, however depending on how late your flight is this might not be so helpful.

Kenzo
 
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