Speaking Italian: 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.
5 Sicilian words and phrases
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, this Sicilian slang word means ‘unbelievable’ or ‘great’. I usually hear 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!
If you’re into adventure travel, Sicily has so many tours and activities that’ll satisfy the most intrepid of traveler out there. Go with a local guide on any of the selected below, and get even more from your experience.
“…when you do use the local slang, watch the locals’ faces light up as you converse in the local vernacular”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
A slight variation from the more commonly used ‘andiamo’, amunninni (aa-moo-nin-nee) is the way of saying ‘let’s go’ in Sicilian. 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!
Extra word: How to say beautiful in Sicilian? ‘Beda’ (be-dda)
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.
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.
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!
The best boutique hotels in Sicily
Practice your Sicilian words and phrases while staying at some of the best boutique hotels in Sicily. The island’s quite big, and you’ll want to plan properly in order to see everything it has to offer.
That said, here are a few of my favourite Sicily boutique hotels that are in popular traveller areas.
We start in the south of the island, Noto, with Borgo Alveria. If you’re looking for a boutique hotel that combines modern comforts with eco-tourism, look no further. It’s in the heart of the Sicilian countryside, with a restaurant housed in a farmhouse, pool and sprawling land.
Baglio Soria Resort & Wine Experience is ideal for travellers who enjoy a glass of wine, or 2, while travelling. Discover the beauty of the Trapani countryside in this 4-star luxury boutique hotel. There are 11 luxury rooms to choose from, and you’re sure to enjoy the surroundings of olive groves and vineyards.
“…expect your clothes to feel a little tighter, and your love handles to be a little cuddlier when you return home!”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
North Sicily – archipelago of the Aeolian Islands
It’s a short boat ride to reach the island of Salina from the mainland of Sicily. Once here, head to the northeast of the island and check into the stunning Capofaro Malvasia & Resort. This 5-star luxury boutique hotel offers high-end accommodation, and is surrounded by the Malvasia vineyard. Needless to say, if you enjoy wine, a tasting here is a must! Stay here if you’re looking for an exclusive resort, bespoke service and to be in the heart of nature.
Taormina is one place that attracts many visitors, and it’s easy to see why. The historic centre is pretty to walk around in, and offers stunning views of the surrounding Mediterranean Sea. I love the Hotel Villa Ducale, not only for its elegant décor and accommodation, but also for its location. It’s perched high on a hillside, offering views of the town below and the Strait of Messina.