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Latin@s in Sicily/Italy

I spent nearly 3 weeks roaming around Palermo & Cefalu in Sicily. I had nothing but the warmest reception from most people, but I believe that had to do with the fact that on account of my complexion and dark brown hair and eyes, and the fact that I studied Italian for a few weeks close to departure (am already fluent in Spanish), many assumed I was Sicilian. Not much of a stretch, tbh. But even when they found out that I was Mexican American from the US (CALIFORNIA BABY!), they wanted to know what California was like, the Airbnb couple I stayed with asked about if I had been to Disneyland and Hollywood. I will say this: be respectful of religious spaces. If you went to Catholic school (like I did), dress like a "church day" (no tank tops, cardigan for covered shoulders, make sure your shorts/skirts hit the appropriate length)--or be prepared for some serious side eye on the part of priests, sisters and conservative olds.

Palermo was diverse! Lots of immigrants from North Africa and Asia setting up small businesses for the hours where Sicilians shut down. There were tons of interesting shops, hole in the wall restaurants, pasticcerias, and I will never eat enough gelato. I did meet some tourists from Spain on a bus one day and they were very friendly. Had they any racial hangups, they were quickly abandoned, as we were on a crowded bus careening up a mountainside to an historic church, one that I had boarded shortly after school had let out so it was packed full of obnoxious Sicilian teenagers (NEWSFLASH: teens obnoxious in every country!). These Spanish travelers and I became quick friends only to part and never speak again. Farewell, kind Spaniards. I hardly knew ye.

Cefalu did not seem as diverse, being a small beach tourist town and all, but it had great seafood and there were a few beach bums from Panama & Colombia I made friends with for a few days. My Spanish helped a lot with both improving my Italian and making friends with other Spanish speakers. The locals were also really sweet and helpful, and not just in a "Who is this woman? I must get to know her!" sort of way, although those words were spoken to me by a man named Fabio who implored me to stay in Cefalu with him longer than I planned. Two minutes after knowing him. Sorry, Fabio. AWESOME name, though.

HOWEVER. My connecting flight, in Rome? People were so, so rude to me. Beyond condescending. I remember hearing that there was often a tendency on the part of Northerners to look down on Sicilians, perhaps when they saw me and that I was headed to Sicily they grew incredibly dismissive. Maybe they're just tired of "Godfather III" worshippers from the U.S.? Whatevs, I came back with a sweet t-shirt that said "Il Padrino" with Brandos face on it (for my little brother), a Bialetti espresso percolator and a big ass bottle of Limoncello--and those jerks in Rome charged me extra to bring it all back haha.

Overall rating: 7.8/10
Safety: 8/10
Cleanliness: 7/10
Culture: 8.7/10
Night life: not really able to comment, as I didn't go out at night. I hear that there's a solid club culture though?

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11294 posts

Thanks for posting this report - very interesting!