Ten ways to tell you’ve been living in Sicily too long

 Sicily images

1. I unashamedly buy my underwear at the markets.

I used to be embarrassed at the prospect of buying undies and bras from market stalls, the idea of everyone observing me was once crippling. Now I don’t blink an eye and happily rummage around the lingerie stand. I also occasionally buy fruit and vegetables from the back of a truck and seafood from a refrigerated van, when in Rome …

2. When someone asks me how I am I answer like a Sicilian.

‘Sono qua … Ca sugnu’ (I’m here), come vuole Dio (by gods will). The customary response of a fatalistic islander.

Man riding on a donkey province of Messina

3. I study supermarket flyers religiously and prepare meals from discounted items.

Sicilians never pay full price for anything as saving money is an obsession. The economic crisis has simply made it more of a necessity. I always ask for a discount on luxury items as I know I am entitled to one. I’ve become an expert haggler at the markets, my strategy simple, name your price, stick to it, threaten to go to another stall and you will get a great deal.

4. I can eat my bodyweight in pasta.

Yes, the waistline has been gradually let out over the years as I’ve succumbed to Sicilian’s gluttony for pasta, sweets, sugar coffee and salami.It’s been a pitiful downslide into hedonism, but it’s all so good and the diet always begins tomorrow.

Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello
Photo by Rochelle Del Borrello

5. I no longer get ticked off by delays and long waits or lines at the post office, bank or public offices.

I simply clear my time table, wait, complain together with the other people or to the teller and take it all with a pinch of philosophy. We are in Sicily after all, it’s always been like this, there’s no need to stress, take it as a lesson in patience.

6. I take the time to greet people with a handshake, a little chat and often use the typical Sicilian custom of the brush or kiss of the cheeks.

I like how people in small towns take the time to socialise, even if it takes up time if you are in a hurry, stopping and starting for conversations or offers of numerous cups of coffee. But if you have not seen a friend or relative for a while it is perfectly normal, a shake of the hand and a peck on both cheeks (starting from the left and either brushing each side or actually kissing so as to avoid head butts and awkward pauses) A word of advice though, be sure to go in decisively, as it means you are respected, well loved and accepted, there’s nothing to be frightened of!

©Rochelle Del Borrello 2014
©Rochelle Del Borrello 2014

7. I hardly ever use my car, I walk a lot around my town, to run errands, it’s nice to move my fat ass around so that constitutes physical exercise, doesn’t it?

Also there is no way I’m driving with all those Sicilian maniacs on the road, it’s friggin dangerous! I’d rather confront the stares of all those little old men who hang around in the square rather than put my life in danger. I also refuse to go back to driving school to convert my Australian drivers license, its and embarrassing prospect, I simply renew my international license annually!

8. I am no longer surprised by news reports about corruption, swindling, cheating and tax evasion in Italy.

It happens so often I’m thinking it’s part of the cultural make up, when you have a system that robs you blind it’s normal to want to get something back and a lot of people take it by force, a vicious circle really.

 Sign Italy

9. I am used to living in a more closed off conservative almost segregated society.

Men and women are separated. I have no male Sicilian friends and their society believes men and women cannot be friends without a sexual element involved (a very old fashioned idea) and then there is very little talk about emotions, opinions or even girly talk! I thank god for my writing, by blog, fellow bloggers, my Australian girlfriends, mother and husband for small talk. Virtual friends on FB are helpful too!

10. I demand good coffee and wine!

have always loved coffee, when I was younger I was all about creamy cappuccino and latte’s but now I need the punch of a sugary espresso in the morning to get me up and going. A good bottle of wine is a regular feature of my table and I am always on the look out for the perfect wine and food combination. A fine wine can really enhance a meal and it’s not about getting drunk, it’s a real art to match the perfect wine with fine fresh seasonal produce. Italians take long expensive courses to develop their palate and it’s a true pleasure of slow eating!

Italian coffee

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P.S: This post was inspired by two fab bloggers who wrote similar lists about their experiences in Sicily and Sardinia namely Veronica from The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife and  Jennifer from My Sardinian Life. Be sure to check out their lists and wonderful blogs.

 Images thanks to the blokes at Google images.

26 thoughts on “Ten ways to tell you’ve been living in Sicily too long

    1. Well, Sicily will drive you nuts in many other different ways! I love Florence, perhaps because I’ve never lived lived there, I’d hate all those tourists! But I love to be around all that art!!

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  1. Yes, underwear shopping at the market! Also a Spanish obsession, and I had no qualms about adopting it:
    http://ladyofthecakes.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/street-snaps-shopping-for-undies/

    Scouring discounter/supermarket brochures and fliers is a German obsession as well. I think Germans are the nation that spends the smallest percentage of their income on food. And not because they can’t afford to spend more, they just like to splash it out on 6-week holidays in Malaysia instead.

    Friends… that’s an interesting one. In Spain, it’s quite normal to have good friends of the opposite sex – even more common than in the UK or in Germany, but this may be a rather subjective judgement. It just seems that way to me.

    I may have told you this already – I’ve got a couple of Aussie friends/neighbours, who lived in Italy (including Sicily) for two decades before moving to Spain, and they go on endlessly about the delicious food 🙂

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    1. Sicilian’s are quite frugal but will splash out on good food especially for occasions! But for the everyday stuff they are always on a look out for a bargin.

      In Australia I was used to having great friends of both sexes, I didn’t really consider the difference, I just miss the conversation, Sicilian’s don’t share opinions, there is no girly chit chat it’s all insidious small town gossip and I’m not really interested in that.
      Yes you did mention your Aussie friends, they sound great and it looks like they certainly know their cuisine!
      All the best to you!

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    1. Thanks, it’s really a mixed bag isn’t it. I have a complex relationship with this place, I’m used to it all. I’m doing fine, sometimes I feel like I’m going bonkers, other times I love the place, there are other moments Sicily takes my breathe away. It’s crazy! Thanks for asking. How are things in Latvia? Did I understand correctly that perhaps you are leaving?
      A warm embrace to you!

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      1. Hi, yes I am! I’m done with the particular rollercoaster here! I’m hoping to move to Germany in September. I know exactly how you feel with the mix of emotions!

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      2. It’s pretty addictive isn’t it?!? And I’ve only been at it for a couple of years (today I got one of those trophy prizes from wordpress to celebrate–)
        All the best to you 🙂

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  2. Really great post! Number nine resonates with me as well! No male friends unless they belong to my husband and women are left to cook in the kitchen. Such old fashioned ideals that will take centuries to change.

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    1. Yes, I was used to Australian men who would do a lot around the house, my brother cooks and his wife does other things around the house. I just miss having lively company, there isn’t much good conversation, Sicilian’s aren’t great in sharing their feelings, it’s something I strongly miss about home. I was sad to read you final post on Sardinian life, sniff … how are things going in Canada? All the best to you!!

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    1. Thanks guys! It’s one endless culture shock to live here but then there are moments when Sicily simply takes my breathe away! I hope to do some more travelling around the island soon even if the budget is a little limited right now. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  3. I was looking forward to your list. It’s so different from mine! Ha!
    Your no. 3 makes me realise I will have to improve my haggling technique. I am such a shopping wimp. My usual tactic at the market is to take my friend’s little girl. When I buy flip flops they cost 10 euros but when she asks the price in Sicilian while I hide my phosphorescent white face three stalls away, they only cost 2! The first time I tried using her as my personal shopper I was so gobsmacked at how cheap it all was that I bought her a dress, and STILL spent less than I would have done on my own.

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    1. You could really write 100 of these observations, there is something new everyday. I totally appreciated your observation about the sequins, especially on formal clothes, I always dread weddings with those elaborate formal attire, you need to wear sunglasses!!
      As for the haggling thing, you’ve got to be tough and if you don’t get your price be like a Sicilian, just walk away!! Good idea to take a local, even if she’s a little one!!

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