Opening hours in Sicily and much more
Italian business, office and administrative office opening hours need some getting used to.
The four-hour break from the 40 degree heat between 1 and 5 pm might make sense in the summer. In the low-season, however, it’s more of a nuissance than anything else.
That means that following a slow start to the day and a long breakfast, you’ll head off to one of the several places worth seeing, arriving at around 11:30 am, to then find closed doors and a very calm place. Tourists interested in culture better get up early or postpone their tour to the afternoon.
Supermarkets, on the other hand, are very often open on Sunday mornings until 1 pm and big shopping centres often seven days a week until 9 pm. That helps arriving in Sicily without the stress of having to do a big shopping before Sunday.
Banks and offices close fairly early at 4 pm after a short lunch break.
Contrary to some stereotypes, Sicilians are a hard-working people and supermarkets – at the very least greengrocers and bakeries – are open on most bank holidays in the morning. That doesn’t count for all bank holidays though, so make sure to ask on site or to read the notices in shops.
Every season we’re approached by several clients who would like to know where to find a good doctor.
To be honest, healthcare on Sicily isn‘t that good – apart from the doctors themselves that is.
Thankfully, one thing does work very well and that’s crucial for you.
In hospitals, bad incidents are taken care of by the Pronto Soccorso (Emergency Room) and there’s the Guardia Medica (emergency medical service) for smaller problems.
In both cases you’ll generally be taken care of rapidly and competently.
After so many years in Sicily, we’ve now come to find that traffic in Germany is less stressful. It’s probably just a case of getting used to it, so here’s a few things to watch out for.
Motorways aren’t too full and provide for a fairly relaxing drive. Over the last few years, however, there have been a number of road damages as well as defect bridges, which is why the trip from Palermo to Catania is now 45 minutes longer.
Driving in Sicily’s smaller towns and villages, as well as in our region, the southeast, is very relaxed. You just need to keep an eye open for the odd Sicilian who doesn’t keep to the rules on roundabouts or to priority (right before left) in traffic.
Furthermore, you’ll need to adjust to elderly farmers who have a habit of holding up traffic behind their tractors or so-called Apes – a three-wheeled light commercial vehicle.
Only in the big cities Palermo and Catania do tourists have to deal with the problem of raving scooters.
You can also more or less forget about reversing into a parking space, since Sicilians will normally stick close to your bumper.
Cycling is in Sicily more of a Sport or a hobby than anything else. That’s why you’ll probably only ever see cyclists as big groups of men riding out on Sundays. People who use a bike for their day-to-day business are rare. Old city centres are especially unsuitable for cycling, as the roads are usually covered in cobblestones, narrow and often very steep; alltogether making risk-free riding extremely difficult.
Following thirteen years in Sicily and a huge number rentals to tourists from all kind of nations, we’ve come to notice some differences between our customers when it comes to sensitivity towards noise and the search for calm or for entertainment. At the height of summer – so, July and August – all Italian seaside resorts are full and hotels play music on weekends until 1 am. School holidays in Italy last from mid-July to mid-September.
Sicily is definitely not overcrowded and also not known for its wild nightlife. We should add though, that it also isn’t as calm as during the rest of the year. Italians are used to the chaos of the two weeks in mid-August – to be honest, they’re probably in search of exactly just that. We recommend our Central and North-European customers, who may be in search of something quieter, rent out a villa in the countryside.
Forget about your usual shopping habits. In Sicily, meat is bought at the butcher’s, fish at the fishmonger’s and vegetables at the greengrocer’s. Everything else is found at the supermarket. Funnily enough, the specialists don’t only offer better products, but also cheaper ones.
Shopping on the market is a wonderful experience. In the south-east, make sure to visit those in Siracusa and Catania.
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We don’t recommend using the railroad, which is slowly falling into decay on Sicily. Bus connections, however, are good and not too expensive.
The big bus companies are Interbus Link and AST Link.
Tickets for AST can bought directly on the bus. Those for Interbus are usually to be found in small huts/kiosks, cafés or, as is the case in Noto, in a Hotelcafé next to the main bus stop.
The easter processions are something worth watching – for example the Processione di Misteri di Trapani (the processions of mysteries of Trapani), although those in Noto and Modica also offer a unique experience. The processions of the patron saints of individual cities are also generally very impressive.
Sant’Agata at the beginning of August (3rd-6th) in Catania and then San Corade on February 19th in Noto, which takes place again on the last Sunday of August for those who’ve emigrated (Nettini) and return in August.
San Paolo on June 29th in Palazzollo Acreide; Santa Rosalia on July 14th in Palermo.
You’ll be surprised at the seriousness of these events, but also at the passion and fantasy invested into staging them.
However, not only the processions are worth taking a look at. During the summer, several interesting celebrations and festivals take place in Sicily.
In Noto between May and mid-September there are regular concerts and events where entry is often free of charge.
The couscous-festival of San Vito lo Capo is at the end of September.
The Greek Theater festival in Syracuse: For a whole month, original pieces of Greek Theater take to the stage of the ancient Greek theater of Syracuse.
Ende of May/beginning of June: the new theater festival in Tindari.
The well-known flower festival Infiorata takes place on the third Sunday of May in Noto.
The film festival in Taormina is in June.
This is only a small list, which we’ll keep expanding.
In den letzten Jahren hat sich die Möglichkeit Fahrräder oder Scooter auszuleihen stark verbessert. Im Südosten können wir Ihnen den Fahrradverleih ……in Solarino empfehlen. Sie liefern die Fahrräder für einen geringen Betrag zum Ferienhaus.
In den meisten Gegenden gibt es inzwischen Fahrrad- und Scootervermietungen. Im Vergleich zu den Mietautos sind sie jedoch relativ teuer.
- Ein Mountain Bike kostet für 3 Tage ca. 60 €, eine Woche ca. 120 €
- Ein Rennrad kostet für 3 Tage ca. 60 €, eine Woche ca. 120 €
- Ein Touring Bike kostet für 3 Tage ca. 45 €, eine Woche ca. 85 €
- Ein City Bike kostet für 3 Tage ca. 45 €, eine Woche ca. 85 €
- Ein E-Bike kostet für 3 Tage ca. 65 €, eine Woche ca. 130 €
Opportunities for renting out a bike and moped have improved over the last few years. In the south-east we can recommend the bike rental service in Solarino. They also bring the bikes to the holiday home for a small fee.
Very close to Noto there is a horse farm. Excursions for children and adults are offered here. The ride lasts 1-1.5 hours. Children and adults pay € 25 per ride.
If you are interested please let us know. You have to book the excursion at least 2 days in advance.