Speaking Sicilian: 5 words and phrases to use when traveling in Sicily
I’m lucky to return each year to the beautiful southern Italian island of Sicily. It’s an destination 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 some popular words and phrases can be useful when traveling in Sicily.
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 use Sicilian slang, watch the locals’ faces light up as you converse in the local vernacular. That said, forget about speaking perfect Sicilian. Just knowing these words and phrases will put you one step ahead of the rest.
1. Minchia – 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 many tours and activities that’ll satisfy the most intrepid of traveler. Go with a local guide on any of the selected below, and get even more out of your visit.
“…when you use Sicilian slang, watch the locals’ faces light up as you converse in the local vernacular.”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
2. Amunninni- learn the Sicilian language
Amunninni (aa-moo-nin-nee) is the way of saying ‘let’s go’ in Sicilian. It’s a slight variation from the standard ‘andiamo’, which is ‘let’s go’ in Italian. Best to use amunninni with friends and people you know, as opposed to the local fisherman or fruit seller! They might just give you a peculiar look!
Extra Sicilian slang tip: How to say beautiful in Sicilian? ‘Beda’ (be-dda)
3. Unni è- 5 Sicilian words to use on the island
A common question we ask on a regular basis, ‘unni è’ (oo-nee eh) basically means ‘where is it?’ in Sicilian. Take note of the intonation used, as this makes a huge difference in saying it correctly.
4. Sicilian words and phrases – Spacchiuso
A great word to use, and one that describes a lot of things in Sicily! ‘Spacchiuso’ (spack-eyoo-zo) is the coolest Sicilian word, because it means cool! Use when talking about the sights, the Sicilian baroque architecture, the beaches, and the island in general.
Map: best boutique hotels in every part of Sicily
5. Sicilian slang words – Mancia
I’m saving the best for last, as this is probably my favorite Sicilian phrase. When in Sicily, there’s nothing I love to do more than 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!
Chic boutique hotels to check into in Sicily
Practice your Sicilian language skills while staying at some of the best boutique hotels in Sicily. The island’s fairly big, and you’ll want to plan properly in order to see everything it has to offer.
To give you a starting point, here are some of my favorite Sicily boutique hotels in the most popular destinations.
We start in the south of the island, Noto, with Borgo Alveria. This boutique hotel combines modern comforts with eco-tourism. Enjoy the best of the Sicilian countryside, with a restaurant in a farmhouse, pool and sprawling land.
For a boutique accommodation with a twist, you may be keen to try glamping instead. The fabulous IUTA Glamping & Farm is an 8-minute drive from the center of Noto. Five eco-luxury tents overlook the striking Sicilian countryside, with a swimming pool and the chance to pick your own fruit.
West Sicily – 5 Sicilian words and phrases
Baglio Soria Resort & Wine Experience is ideal for travelers who enjoy a glass of wine on their travels. Discover the beauty of the Trapani countryside in this 4-star luxury boutique hotel. There are 11 luxury rooms to choose from, amidst 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
This 5-star luxury boutique hotel has elegant accommodation, and is also surrounded by the Malvasia vineyard. Needless to say, if you enjoy wine, you’ve got to do a tasting! Stay here if you’re looking for an exclusive resort , bespoke service and to be among nature.
Taormina’s one place that attracts many visitors year after year. The historic centre’s 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.
What are your thoughts on this post? Do you feel confident to try some for yourself if/when you visit Sicily? Let me know in the comments below.
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…