Speaking Sicilian: 5 words and phrases you should use when travelling in Sicily

I was lucky to return once again to the beautiful southern Italian island of Sicily. It’s an island rich in culture and ancient history, with a strong people and proud identity to match. The same can be said for the island’s language. Sicilians speak their own dialect, and knowing a few popular words and phrases can be useful when speaking with the locals.

For fellow multilingual speakers, you’ll understand the challenges of mastering a language, let alone an additional dialect. While the following words and phrases won’t exactly have you speaking fluent Sicilian (!) they’ll definitely come in handy.

What’s more, when you do use the local slang, watch the locals’ faces light up as you converse in the local vernacular. That said, forget about speaking perfect Sicilian — just knowing these 5 Sicilian words and phrases will put you one step ahead of the rest.

Speak like a Sicilian

Minchia

Minchia (min-kee-ah) is an expression you’ll hear a lot in Sicily. Literally translated, it refers to erm, a part of the male anatomy! That aside, it’s actually a great word to use, which means ‘unbelievable’ or ‘great’. I usually came across it during mealtimes, to compliment a tasty dish. Take note however, as the use of ‘Minchia’ does depends on the context, so translations will differ!

 

Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera
Luxury experience in Vienna - Vienna State Opera

“…when you do use the local slang, watch the locals’ faces light up as you converse in the local vernacular”

FOLLOWING THE RIVERA

Luxury experience in Vienna - Burggarten

Amunninni

A slight variation from the more commonly used ‘andiamo’, amunninni (aa-moo-nin-nee) is the Sicilian way of saying ‘let’s go’. Best to use this one with friends and people you know, as opposed to the local fisherman or fruit seller! They might just give you a peculiar look!

Unni è

A common question we ask on a regular basis, ‘unni è’ (oo-nee eh) basically means ‘where is it?’ Do take note of the intonation used, as this makes a huge difference in saying it correctly.

Spacchiuso

A great word to use, and one that describes a lot of things in Sicily! ‘Spacchiuso’ (spac-keyo-zo) is the coolest Sicilian word, because it means cool! Use when talking about the sights, the architecture, the beaches, and the island in general.

Mancia

Saving the best for last, this is probably my favourite Sicilian phrase. When in Sicily, there’s nothing I love more than to eat! And this phrase ‘mancia’ (man-cha) is music to my ears. Whenever you hear the phrase ‘mancia!’ (eat!) don’t hesitate to start. Sicilians are happy when they see their guests eating and – more importantly – enjoying the food. That said, expect your clothes to feel a little tighter, and your love handles to be a little cuddlier when you return home!

Vorresti imparare Italiano? Prova Duolingo qui!

Luxury experience in Vienna - Kunsthistorisches Museum

“…expect your clothes to feel a little tighter, and your love handles to be a little cuddlier when you return home!”

FOLLOWING THE RIVERA

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