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HEALTH & SAFETY
You can describe Sicily as a “low risk” destination - there are no rare illnesses requiring vaccines, foodstuffs and taps water in all towns and cities is safe. If you are traveling over the high summer months, limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days and over lunchtime between 11am and 4pm when the sun is strongest. Be sure to bring sun lotion, a sun hat and sunglasses.
In case of emergency, the number for the police is 113, who can also call an ambulance for you. Many doctors in Sicily speak English and hotels and resorts will be able to recommend a doctor if needed. You are eligible for free emergency care under the Italian health care system, but be prepared to pay costs erasing from hospital admittance or medical consultation.
Pharmacies are open during the week, often closing for lunch and then open late until 9 or 10pm. There is a rota for emergency opening hours, so you will always find a pharmacy open over the siesta or after hours. That information is usually displayed at the door or the window.
The mafia is the probably the first thing that comes to many people’s mind when thinking about Sicily, but the mafia does not bother tourists and it’s highly unlikely that you would run into anything connected to the group. Chances are better that you might encounter pickpockets, thieves and purse-snatchers and caution is always advisable when in more crowded areas.
You can find up-to-date health and health advice in relation to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic and traveling to and in Sicily here:
MONEY AND PRICE LEVEL
Like the rest of Italy, Sicily uses the euro as its common currency. It is possible to change money at banks, post offices or at dedicated exchange bureaus and automatic exchange machines in larger cities and airports. ATMs can be found all over Sicily.
Credit Cards are not always accepted, so be sure to ask first or look for the credit card symbol. Plan to pay for a good portion of your trip in cash, especially petrol and transport.
Sicily is relatively cheap when compared to other regions in Italy. An espresso costs less than one Euro while it is common to grab a breakfast including a coffee and pastry for under € 3.00. A decent pizza or take away street food starts from € 5,00, a proper meal in a restaurant including a starter, main and some wine come for around € 20.00. In the supermarkets, you can find a decent enough mid-range bottle for under € 5,00 while a small bottle of beer would be around € 1,50.
Shops open between 8:30 and 10am, supermarkets and food shops often earlier. All shops close for a few hours for siesta over lunchtime and then stay open until 8pm or later. In the more touristy areas, shops remain open over lunch. Most shops close for a half day during the week, usually Monday morning or Wednesday afternoon.
Sicilian bars are open from early in the morning until late at night and serve drinks and snacks, according to the time of the day. Restaurants usually open in the late morning until late. Because of the lengthy siesta, dinner time in Sicily is often not before 8pm.
Electricity current is 220V and plugs have two or three round prongs.
New Years Day
Monday after Easter
Assumption of Mary
All Saints Day
St Stephens Day
FESTIVITIES & EVENTS
Carnevale - a week long celebration with parades and festivities
Late January / early February
Almond Blossom Festival - celebrating the almond blossom around the Valley of Temples with music, dance, parades and puppet shows
First week of Februay
Feast of St Agatha - religious celebration of the martyred patron saint with candle processions, parades, theatre and fireworks
Holy week observances - processions and age-old ceremonies
Week leading up to Easter
Dance of the Devils - street festival representing the age-old struggle between good and evil
Infiorata - spring festival centered around flowers with performances, music and craft shows
Festa del Muzzini - parade centered around ancient vases draped in silk (“muzzini”)
Luglio Musicale - a month long series of outdoor events celebrating the finest in ballet, musical and opera
Feast of Santa Rosalia - weeklong celebration of the patron saint with open air art performances and street food
Calinata Infiorata - celebration of the patron saint
Palio dei Normanni - celebrating Sicily’s Norman past with medieval dress-ups and parades
San Vito lo Capo
Intl Couscous Festival - week long festival with life music and local foods peaking in a couscous competition
Ottobrata Zafferanese - month-long festival celebrating local products of the area with different themes each weekend
Chocolate Festival - celebrating the art of chocolate making with chocolate tastings, workshops and entertainment
Christmas Fair - Christmas market in the Epipoli section of the city