Staying Safe And Healthy In Sicily
Sicily is an idyllic holiday destination, but any travel abroad can raise worries for some. How safe is the destination? What’s the healthcare provision like? What precautions and knowledge is relevant here which we may not need at home. While in general you don’t have a lot to worry about in Sicily, here are a few pieces of information which may help to both prepare you and set your mind at rest.
How Safe Is Sicily?
A million Mafia movies have given Sicily a bit of a dubious reputation when it comes to crime – albeit a rather glamorously dubious reputation, with a Hollywood shine to it. Many travellers to Sicily turn up insured to the nines, fully expecting to be held-up by a Mafiosi as soon as they step off the plane. In truth, this isn’t strictly necessary. While a bit of personal cover is no bad idea, wherever you’re going, Sicily is in fact considered one of the world’s safer destinations. If you do meet a Mafiosi, you’re unlikely to know it, and they’re unlikely to involve you in a crime! In fact, many Sicilians will be offended if you babble on about the Mafia, so, as a courtesy, do try not to imply that they’re all members of organised crime rings! As in any tourist-heavy destination, there is a degree of pickpocketing, particularly during busy seasons, so keep an eye on your belongings. But don’t get paranoid – getting your pocket picked in Palermo is far less likely than getting your pocket picked in many American cities. It’s also worth noting that chancing it when it comes to change etc is something of a cultural tradition in Sicily, so you may have to hold out for what you see as an ‘honest’ price with vendors. Don’t worry too much about this, though. It’s all in good spirit! It’s also perhaps worth noting that Italian men have something of a reputation with women! Italian flirting culture goes a bit further than many other Western flirting cultures, which may make some women uncomfortable. Don’t be. A simple ‘Mi lasce in pace?’ (‘Will you leave me in peace?’) will usually cause them to back off with apologies.
How Healthy Is Sicily?
There are few health risks in Sicily. Admittedly, the Sicilian roads can be a bit scary – Sicilian drivers appear to have no self-preservation instincts whatsoever! So be careful if you’re hiring a car or crossing the road. The tap water is subject to EU regulations and therefore safe to drink. Italy (including Sicily) has no more dangerous or infectious diseases than any other developed country, and is generally pretty disease-free. If you’re concerned about mosquito or tick borne diseases, take sensible precautions like applying insect repellents and wearing clothing which covers vulnerable areas. If you’re planning to bathe off Sicily’s beautiful beaches, pay attention to warnings etc from the coastguard, don’t get out of your depth, and don’t take stupid risks with the ocean! In general, however, Sicilian beaches are pretty safe.
What If I Should Need Healthcare?
The cost of healthcare in Sicily will vary depending on your personal insurance and any healthcare deals your nation may have with Italy on the subject (if you’re an EU national, a European Health Insurance Card will get you state medical care for free or at a reduced cost. If you’re from Australia, a Medicare card will help you out with Sicilian healthcare). Healthcare in Sicily is not hard to come by, with plentiful pharmacies and good hospital provision in the case of emergency. Anyone in need will get emergency treatment, regardless of nationality or ability to pay – although non-EU citizens may be charged after the fact. Should you need an ambulance, dial 118 or 112. Here’s a basic phrase guide which will help you out in the case of an emergency. Please note that it is an offence in Italy to try and provide healthcare to someone if you do not have medical qualifications or a first aid qualification, so if someone if having an emergency medical situation, the best thing to do is call the emergency services immediately (it’s also an offence not to call the emergency services in the event of a medical emergency!). With any luck, however, you will not have to worry about any of this during your stay in Sicily!