• Italy edition
 
My Italy - Sicily
'Some things need a special donation to work'
Photo: John P Brady

'Some things need a special donation to work'

Published: 20 Sep 2013 15:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 20 Sep 2013 15:08 GMT+02:00

So what made you leave the Emerald Isle for Sicily, apart from the weather?

Sicily is for some a paradise island, and for others a place to emigrate from. I moved here to broaden my horizons and to search for a new challenge. I enjoy the thrill of communicating daily in Italian and developing an entirely new social circle. I had lived in Dublin for long enough to know and love the city completely, but it was just time to move on.

Why Catania?

I like hot weather and anything below 20 C for me is cold, therefore I went as far south as possible. Catania is costal, which is a bonus, and this is obviously a huge draw during the summer months.

Sicilians often don't see themselves as "Italians" and vice-versa. Are the differences that stark?

Sicily is an island and for that reason it shares some things with other island cultures. For example, the way people relate to each other here and in Ireland has some similarities. Overall though, Sicily is Italy. The question is often asked, “what is Italy?” since it’s made up of so many divided parts, each of which have different local food and their own dialect.

Did you speak Italian before you came and have you picked up any of the local dialect?

A huge motivation in moving here was the language, which in my opinion is far richer than English, although English has an array of similar words which are often mistranslations from Latin (“pretend” would be a good example). I had learned Italian before moving to Sicily and was lucky enough to be able to communicate well from my first day here. This is hugely important because in Sicily, even more so than in the north of Italy, very few people speak English. For tourists this is fine, as most proprietors of hotels or bed and breakfast places can speak a few basic words. In reality, one will find it difficult to make friends without a good knowledge of Italian.

For me, Sicilian is a language and not a dialect, in fact “Catanese” is a dialect of Sicilian. It is used heavily in Catania but less so amongst university students and the upwardly mobile. I speak a little and can understand most of it. Some locals speak only Sicilian and are not able to converse properly in Italian.

Tell us a bit about the work you do there.

I’ve been teaching English as a means of income and as a social outlet. I discovered immediately that most people have a low level of proficiency. This means that you will need to explain things to them in Italian. To explain the difference between the present perfect and the simple past tense can be a challenge in English, doing so in Italian is another matter! So basically, without good Italian this is a difficult work choice. I’ve also been busy freelancing and writing fiction, and at the moment I’m working on a collection of short stories which will be released in early 2014.

Is Sicily cheaper to live than mainland Italy?

It’s cheaper than the north, but only for certain things. Items such as toiletries etc cost much more here. I’ve heard that this is to cover the extra cost of transportation. Eating out is expensive, especially fish. A drink can cost as much as €6 depending on where you go. On the other hand, shopping in the market can be very reasonable.

What are your favourite things about living in Catania?

As I said, I like hot weather and having lived in Ireland I’ve seen enough grey skies to last me a lifetime. I’m not overly fond of living in an expat bubble so the lack of foreigners is another advantage.

The vastly different culture is very stimulating and has inspired me to write a blog about my experiences, which I have tried to keep more informative and less personal. It is also a useful way for me to understand the experiences I’ve been having.

And what about the downsides?

For many, a disadvantage is bureaucracy. Things take time and I’ve heard that some things even need a special donation to work at all. There is a general sense of chaos here which for many is a downside.

Surprisingly, some locals don’t understand what bins are used for. The younger educated folk are trying to change this and are tackling other social problems such as political apathy and crime.

What would you advise anyone seeking to move to Sicily?

It is important to remember that when moving abroad you must leave your old life behind and avoid romanticising it. You have a new world to explore abroad, one just as ripe and full of possibility. If you like expat bubbles go and speak English in Andalucia instead!

Do you think you'll be there a while?

Who knows? The future is not ours to see. We must live in the present. At the moment it is a good choice.

John P Brady is a writer and teacher who has left the green isle of Ireland for the burnt soil of Sicily. His first collection of stories will be published in early 2014. Details are on his website, www.johnpbrady.com, where you can also find a blog about food, culture and life in Italy. 

You can also find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/johnpbradywriter and Twitter https://twitter.com/JohnPBradyIRL.

Angela Giuffrida (angela.giuffrida@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Immigration in Italy
Italy issues most permits in EU for family reasons
Ferries arriving in Genoa. The city is the first point of entry for many Moroccan citizens to Italy. Photo: Carlo Mirante/Flickr

Italy issues most permits in EU for family reasons

Italy last year granted more first-time residence permits to non-EU citizens for family reasons than any other EU country, a new report has revealed. READ  

Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud
Fabio Cannavaro led Italy to glory in Germany in 2006. Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP

Sport hero Cannavaro probed over €1m fraud

UPDATED: Italy's World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro is being investigated on suspicion of running a sham company to avoid paying more than €1 million in tax, Italian authorities announced on Wednesday. READ  

Italy steps closer to EU budget warning
Sending Italy and France back to the drawing board would be unprecedented for the EU.EU photo: Shutterstock

Italy steps closer to EU budget warning

Italy and France moved a step closer on Wednesday to having their budgets humiliatingly sanctioned by Brussels, with four other countries also in the EU danger zone, a European source said. READ  

Woman suffers racist 'Ebola' attack in Rome
The woman was helped by a group of people waiting at a bus stop. Bus photo: Shutterstock

Woman suffers racist 'Ebola' attack in Rome

A Guinean woman has been attacked on a Rome bus and accused of having the deadly Ebola disease, which has recently hit West Africa, Italian media reported on Wednesday. READ  

VIDEO
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
The six French tourists were fined €269 each for their Dolce Vita-style bathing session. Screengrab: YouTube/Анастасия Потапенко

Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain

A group of French tourists have been fined after they were caught dancing semi-naked in a priceless fountain in Rome’s Monti district. The whole scene was caught on camera. READ  

Sweet treat for Pope in Swiss Guard recipe book
David Geisser, 24, joined the elite Vatican security corps a month ago. Photo: David Geisser

Sweet treat for Pope in Swiss Guard recipe book

From an Argentinian dessert that translates as "milk candy" to Polish ravioli, a member of Vatican's famed Swiss Guard on Tuesday unveiled a range of recipes of dishes favoured by popes. READ  

China brings business to crisis-hit Italy
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (L) speaks with China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang during the tenth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in October. Photo: Daniel Dal Zennaro/AFP

China brings business to crisis-hit Italy

Centuries after Marco Polo showed how it was done, Italy is once again knocking on China's door. But rather than Italians going to China, today's pioneers are Chinese entrepreneurs heading to Italy in search of a holistic remedy for its economic ailments. READ  

Football
Verona sanctioned over Muntari racism abuse
AC Milan's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari. Photo: Olivier Morin/AFP

Verona sanctioned over Muntari racism abuse

Verona became the first Serie A club this season to be sanctioned for racism after fans in the south stand of the Bentegodi stadium targeted AC Milan's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari with abuse. READ  

Cool Italian scientists break world record
Absolute zero - considered the lowest possible temperature - is -273.15 Celsius. Temperature photo: Shutterstock

Cool Italian scientists break world record

An Italian lab has cooled a cubic metre of copper to within a tiny fraction of "absolute zero", setting a world record, the National Nuclear Physics Institute said on Tuesday. READ  

Italian police discover €1.7 bn corporate fraud
Photo: Guardia di Finanza

Italian police discover €1.7 bn corporate fraud

UPDATED: Italy's financial police on Tuesday said they had broken up a ring of companies they believe used false accounting to defraud the state out of €1.7 billion ($2.2 billion) of tax. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Semi-clad tourists dance in priceless fountain
National
Singing nun picks Like a Virgin for debut album
National
Where's the best place to live in Italy?
National
Amorous Italian couple get stuck in frolic at sea
Culture
Test your Italian history with The Local's quiz
Travel
Top ten: Travel warnings for Italy
International
Revealed: The cost of home comforts in Italy
Health
Nurse 'killed 38 patients for being annoying'
Culture
Breaking Balsamic: See US writer's potent parody
Opinion
Is Italy a desirable place for foreigners to work?
Culture
Top ten: Things Italian mothers say
Society
Mayors vow to defy gay marriage registration ban
Travel
How well do you know Italy's geography?
National
Ten Italian 'false friends' you need to watch out for
International
Italian student tipped to win British X-Factor
Business & Money
Italy ranked ninth most desirable place to work
Education
Why Milan uni's English switch opened minds
National
The small Sicilian town with nine centenarians
National
What Rome could teach Paris and vice versa
National
President's barber: €99k state snippers overpaid
National
Is Italy really a bad place to grow old?
Education
Pisa storms into global uni rankings
National
Unruly Italy is EU's most disobedient country
National
Italy among worst places in EU to grow old
Travel
Brit in bid to set Milan metro travel record
International
Marriage scam: 179 Italian couples claim to live in British mail box
Politics
Italy's state barbers' pay trimmed...to €99,000
Politics
eBay users snub Italy’s luxury official cars
National
Udder joy: Italian man is world's best cow-milker
Business & Money
Chinese fashion titans look to Italy for value
National
Clooney wedding 'good news for the Middle East'
National
QUIZ: Test your Italian language skills
Education
Italy top of the class for teaching English
National
Italians offered €30 a day to host a migrant
Tech
Azerbaijan beats Italy in internet stakes
Society
Marriage scrapped due to 'mummy's boy' husband
Politics
Italy separatists unfazed by Scotland's 'no'
Culture
Ten 'rude' Italian phrases you can get away with
Health
7,000 apply for two nursing jobs in Veneto
Education
Mother laments number of 'foreigners' at school
Health
One quarter of Italian teens has tried cannabis
Travel
American tourists caught with Pompeii relic
National
Seven whales stranded on Italian beach
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

678
jobs available