Sicily shows a different side to Italy that's worth checking out. Though the people here are undoubtedly Italian, they also have their own unique culture. And it's evidently different from the rest of the country. Why do you think Sicily makes for a great setting in film and literature? The island, which is a fair way away from the rest of the country, has cemented its own identity over the years. Only in Sicily will you see Italians do a mix of different cultures, the strong influence of the Italian mafia, and its own language. Some of them may have gone mainstream sure, but they're distinctly Sicilian all the way!
A Mix of Different Influences
From TV shows to movies set in Italy
, the culture in Sicily is more than apparent. It's even part of what makes the place so enchanting to outsiders. More than beautiful beaches and grandiose architecture, the island of Sicily draws with its fascinating traditions. Little do many know, however, that the island's culture is a mix of a myriad of different other cultures. There's Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, and Norman. You can even see their influences in various parts of the island, from how the locals talk to the ancient ruins. Because of this, Sicily has carved out its own identity apart from the rest of Italy.
Sicily's Own Language
Italy is the kind of country that truly embraces its own. From culture to language to cuisine, the Italians are proud of what they have. They're far from the likes of Belgians and the Swiss, wherein certain parts of their countries speak different languages. Here in Italy, there's only the Italian language, which also comes in different dialects. But did you know that Sicily has its own language too? It's significantly different from the Italian language and you'll most hear it in the smaller and more rural towns on the island. Pretty fascinating, right?
The “God's Kitchen” Cuisine
Apart from just language, did you know that Sicily has its own unique cuisine too? More than just the different types of pasta
, pizza, and pastries, the food on this island is distinctly theirs. And it's so delicious, it even earned the “God's Kitchen” moniker! You won't even get some of them anywhere else. The arancini
, for example, is a fried ball of risotto rice. Though it's mostly eaten as a snack, it's oftentimes just as fulfilling as a full-blown meal. And who could forget about the cannoli? This cream-filled Italian dessert
is just as popular as gelato, yet very few people realize that it's from Sicily!
Saints Feast Day Festivals
The practice of celebrating the feast day of saints isn't exactly exclusive to Sicily. In fact, many of the most important holidays in Italy
are the feast days of various saints. But what separates the culture of Sicily in this regard is how the people celebrate these feast days. While many other parts of the country will commemorate such holy days with peaceful prayer and solemn masses, Sicilians put on full-blown festivals. Especially if it's the feast day of the patron saint of their town. Sure, they still pray and hear mass, but after all that, they party!
The Italian Mafia
Thanks to the Oscar-winning film, “The Godfather” (1972), Sicily has gained a rather infamous reputation as the home of the Italian mafia. They even filmed some of the movie's scenes on the island. And the many qualities of Sicilian men, from their machismo to even their accents, are replicated on screen. With all of that said, are the facts really far from fiction? Well, not necessarily. The mafia still has considerable influence on the island, even going so far as to have connections in local governments. This isn't to say that Sicily itself is a dangerous place, but it pays to be a bit knowledgeable about this part of the island too.
A Family-Centric Island
As a whole, Italy is a family-centric country. So this part of the culture of Sicily isn't exactly that different from those on the mainland. The distinction, however, comes in just how devoted Sicilians are to their families. As mentioned earlier, the mafia is still alive and well on the island. When it comes to this sort of thing, familial bonds are what keeps these people together. Many businesses on the island are also run by families, generally passed down from generation to generation. And as far as social customs
are concerned, the Sicilians are all about respecting their elders.
Gender Roles in Sicily
Perhaps the most controversial about the culture in Sicily is how gender roles are laid out. The island is as traditional and conservative as ever, which means that they still adhere to a patriarchal system. Sometimes to an even outdated degree. For Sicilian families, the father is the head of the household. They rule the home and anyone who doesn't conform to the idea risks getting thrown out. Women, on the other hand, generally stay at home and become housewives. Though more and more modern women are breaking out of this stereotype.
Learn all about the unique culture of Sicily and discover what it is about this island that continues to enchant so many. More than its charming towns and paradisical beaches, it's the way of life in Sicily that is so fascinating!