Health and Safety in Sicily
While many people think the Mafia pose a threat to holidaying in Sicily, rest assured that they are not concerned with God-fearing tourists (and also not with non God-fearing people). You are unlikely to smell let alone see any Mafia related activity. However there are some things you can do to ensure a hassle-free holiday.
Taking out a travel insurance should be a precaution before you go anywhere, so if you are robbed or lose items they can be replaced. If you do suffer a loss you must report it if you wish to claim insurance. Dealing with Sicilian police or authorities can be a headache and they may take very little interest or care in your problem. However they could equally do the opposite and be very attentive. It’s really the luck of the drawer. There are Carabinieri across the entire island.
Emergency numbers in Sicily:
|Emergency / Police||113|
|Ambulance / medical||118|
Of course the best way to ensure safety is not to seek trouble!
This means you should not wear expensive jewellery or flaunt possessions like cameras, phones or cash. Don't wander city streets alone after dark especially in Palermo and Catania or in any particularly quiet areas. Keep your bags in sight at all times and always keep your money on you - internal money belts are the safest measure against pick pocketing. However it's best not to store too much cash, try to just have what you need for a few days and store it in different places away from other valuables. By the way: all hotels have safes. Cards and travellers cheques are a good way of carrying money. You may not find ATMs (bancomats) in small towns and they may also not take credit cards. Cash is still king in Sicily - particularly in markets, small shops and small hotels.
Travel in Sicily should not present too many health concerns. The worst problem you may suffer is heat exhaustion in summer and an upset stomach from eating too much food prepared with olive oil! If you tend to have a sensitive stomach buy bottled water and look out for signs that say "acqua potabile" (drinking water). Some people get diarrhea from eating pizza, caused by the warm Mozzarella-cheese.
In general the tap water is drinking water although it can have a metallic aftertaste when it comes from Mount Etna. This could be in the area from Taormina to Catania and the towns and villages at the slopes of the volcano. It doesn't do any harm if you drink it, but if you don't like the taste, use bottled water for tooth cleaning.
Should you feel ill there are pharmacies (farmacia) around the country, recognizable by a red cross (farmacia) or a green cross (para-farmicia, same medicaments but less expensive). Every town has a medico (doctor) - in tourist areas they usually speak English.
EU citizens may use Italy’s health services under the same terms as Italian residents, so bring your E111 document.
If you are really ill head to the first aid (pronto soccorso) of the local hospital or phone 113 or 118.
In Taormina you'll find the hospital at Contrada Sirina - phone +39 0942 5791 and +39 0942 579297 (First Aid)