Travel Tips

Life in Sicily

It’s been a whole MONTH since we moved to Sicily, Italy! We’ve made it through the flights, unpacking, and all the logistics of moving abroad … and it’s starting to feel like home here.

Except … it’s nothing like home!

(Pssst … if you’re just here to see cool photos of our time in Italy, keep scrolling to the very bottom for a handful of my favorites!)

Here are a few ways Sicily is unlike any place we’ve lived before:

  1. We live in the shadow of a volcano. Actually, one of the world’s most active volcanoes - Mount Etna. (Luna always says, “See that? You see that volcano? Isn’t that cool?!”) It last erupted in December 2018 and they say the volcanic ash is the reason the food here is so good! Speaking of food …

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2. We almost never go to the grocery store anymore. Instead, we visit the butcher, the baker, the pasta shop and the local fish market where we find all our fresh fruits + veggies. And we purchase food by the kilo (“mezzo”) or ounces (“etti”) instead of by the pound!

Fish Market in Catania (open daily except on Sundays)
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3. Coffee shops are called bars, we pay in euros instead of dollars, and the oven is in Celsius degrees. I’m still getting used to the money!

4. We don’t have Walmart or Target. Or really any of the major stores we’re used to … instead, there’s a store called Auchan which is sort of the Italian version of Walmart. (Amazon delivers but it takes 1-2 weeks for packages to arrive. First world problems, I know!) And the stores/restaurants have weird hours - most close for several hours during the afternoons.

5. Drivers are next-level aggressive especially in the city. Stop signs are just suggestions, honking is socially acceptable, and mopeds weave through the tiniest gaps in traffic. They joke that the center line is the middle lane here … expect it’s not a joke! People actually drive on the center line between opposing lanes of traffic! And that’s just the beginning - sometimes you get stuck behind a flock of sheep or people will stop to talk to an old friend - literally in the middle of the road - while holding up traffic. We’re still waiting on our second car to arrive but that’s okay … I’m a little nervous to drive!

6. Everyone LOVES children but you rarely see them out. It’s almost strange how few children we see. I’ve heard a few theories about why and I’m not sure how many are true. All I know is that people stop to talk to Lu + Stella everywhere we go :)

7. There’s an obvious language barrier. It’s funny how simplest things become a lot more complex when you don’t know the language. Can you imagine walking into a store with only foreign labels?? Or trying to find a bathroom (“bagno”) and then realizing you don’t know how to say it? Or you need an ambulance but you have NO IDEA who or how to call. There are so many things you take for granted that you just don’t know when you move to a foreign country.

8. We’re living on a military base for the first time ever. And it’s honestly not bad. I’ve heard all the horror stories but I really love where we live. There are parks on every corner, the houses are spacious with high ceilings, and there’s a little daycare spot at the community center. There are also basketball/tennis courts and a SKATING RINK (ordering my roller blades right after this LOL). Plus we’ve already made friends in the community - we’re planning a trip with another family two weekends from now!

Fontana dell’Elefante in Catania

Which brings me to my favorite thing about Sicily …

9. There are a ton of travel opportunities! We’ve already been to Siracusa, Taormina, Motta, Catania, Brucoli, and Isola Bella. We’ve seen ruins, castles, and the bluest water I’ve ever seen. And there are still so many other places to see and things to do - not just in Sicily but also the rest of Italy/Europe. Here are a few photos from local places we’ve been exploring:

Day trip to Siracusa
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Day trip to Isola Bella
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Narrow streets in Siracusa
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Cupola Badia Di S. Agata in Catania
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City views in Siracusa

It’s honestly breathtaking here! And we’ve had so much fun traveling with the girls. Stella is always up for whatever and Luna was literally skipping for joy when we visited Fontana dell’Elefante (did you see the pictures above? They’re the ones where she’s wearing a striped shirt!).

Anyway, I’m sure there are a few more things I meant to talk about. But that’s all I can think of for now! And I guess what I’m trying to say is … life is different in Sicily. We miss our family + friends back home a TON but also … we kinda love it here :)

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With love,

Lace + co.

P.S. Are you PCSing to Sigonella?! Let’s connect using #sigonellmoms!

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How to Survive A Road Trip with a Toddler

Hey mommas!

We've been spending a LOT of time on the road lately.  And this week we're adding another couple hours to the mix since we're heading to the lake for a long weekend.  That means four whole days of tubing and tangled hair and time with our family.  But before we get to the fun, we have to survive a 3-hour (or more) car ride with Luna. 

In the past, I would have been seriously stressed out right about now.  Even the thought of traveling with Lu used to give me the worst anxiety!  But motherhood has taught me a few things and I've picked up a few survival tips along the way.  They've made car rides so much easier for me - and I'm hoping they'll work for you, too!

TIP #1 - TIME IT RIGHT

Whenever possible, I plan road trips around Luna's schedule.  We wake up in the morning, eat breakfast, and then play.  I mean really play.  I chase her around and tickle her and do anything I can think of to wear her out.  By the time we leave, she's usually ready for quiet time and a long nap.  Perfect timing to start a trip!

TIP #2 - KEEP ESSENTIALS WITHIN REACH

There was a time when I would toss my diaper bag into the back seat before trips.  It was such a rookie move!  These days, I keep it up front with me and all essentials within reach.  That includes a bottle, sippy cup, pacifier, snacks, a light blanket and a few toys.  If Luna starts fussing, I just pass her one of the toys or a bottle and keep going!

TIP #3 - DESIGNATE TOYS JUST FOR THE CAR

Speaking of toys, I always keep a few special ones in the car, like Luna's stuffed puppy.  When I'm ready to leave the house I'll say, "Lu, do you want to see your puppy?!" and she runs straight to the door.  I hand her the toy, strap her into the car seat without a struggle, and we're on our way!  Every few weeks, I'll rotate the toys out or let her pick out a brand new one at the store.  And once she's a little older, I'll add crayons, notepads, and little games into the mix. 

TIP #4 - KEEP THINGS COMFORTABLE

On travel days, I dress Luna in soft, light clothing and stay away from anything with buttons, zippers, or itchy tags that could irritate her skin.  I also prefer short sleeves.  It's way easier to toss back a light blanket than to change her out of an outfit that's too hot!

Which reminds me .... keep in mind that most cars have better circulation and air flow in the front seat.  Even if you're comfortable in the front, you might want to take it down a couple degrees to keep your little one feeling the same way in the back :)

TIP #5 - TAKE BREAKS OFTEN

Another way I keep Luna happy on the road?  We pull over at least once every hour (or two) and let her run around.  Sometimes we stop at parks along the way and other times it's just a grassy patch next to a gas station.  But either way, we give her a chance to stretch her legs and get rid of pent up energy.  There's one exception to this rule and that's when she's sleeping.  In that case, we just keep driving and hope we don't run out of gas or have to pee before she wakes up.

TIP #6 - PLAN FOR DELAYS

GPS needs a "traveling with a toddler" option that automatically adds a couple hours to any road trip.  Since that's not available yet, just assume that it's going to take a little longer than expected to get anywhere you're going.  Anticipating delays makes it much easier to cope with them when they actually happen.

TIP #7 - TRY TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN

I'm saying "try" because we all know how difficult it can be traveling with a toddler.  But in my experience, it's more fun for everyone when we don't overreact to Luna's crabbiness.  Instead, we listen to music, play sing-a-longs, and make animal noises.  It takes a lot of effort but it's also so nice to hear her laugh even when she's feeling super confined in the car.

TIP #8 - BREAK OUT YOUR LAST RESORT

When you're traveling, there will be times when your little one is inconsolable and impossible to deal with.  Don't worry, momma.  It's happened to all of us and desperate times call for desperate measures.  So put on a movie.  Pass over your phone.  Give yourself a free pass to do that Bad Mom thing you never thought you'd do.  And then bask in the glory of a quiet car ride with a happy toddler :)

How do you survive road trips with your babes?  Do you have any extra tips to share?? I'd love to hear them in the comments below!

Safe travels and best of luck!

Lace

*Photography Credit*

The image(s) featured in this article were captured by Pineland Photography.