Pozzallo is a sleepy Sicilian seaside village on the Mediterranean – as “Italian / Sicilian” as you can get! I arrived Monday afternoon after flights from Belgrade to Munich and Munich to Catania followed by a 1.5-hour bus ride from Catania to Pozzallo. Each leg of the trip had unique challenges which I won’t belabor in this post.
Italiano or Siciliano?
After a few days it’s clear not much English is spoken in Pozzallo. Even cats don’t understand it :o) … I visited Rome in 2017, so it’s been a few years since last speaking (or rather trying to speak) the Italian language. I’m starting each day with 15 -30 minutes on Babbel hoping it helps me improve.
Considered its own language, Sicilian is a “distinct and historical Romance language of the Italo-Dalmatian family”. Many Sicilian words are of “Greek origin with influence from Norman, Arabic, Catalan, Spanish, and other languages”.
My landlord – Saro – speaks some English but when his eyes go blank, it’s clear he doesn’t understand. Most locals are patient but after a poor pronunciation there’s usually a good-hearted boffola followed by a correction and then – usually – a smile. Europeans appreciate efforts to speak their language even if they’re not perfect.
It’s interesting to note how patient (or not) countries are with tourists and foreigners. I’ve learned it’s unrealistic to expect locals to understand how it is to be new to a place learning everything from directions to local customs and food. I think the only way someone can relate to that is by experiencing it themselves – this usually makes everyone a little humbler.
Some days are a test of survival. Travel isn’t always fun – maybe with an entourage and someone doing the hard work for you… If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m experiencing some long-term travel grouchiness…
I had lunch yesterday at a café along the promenade where locals eat. I sat at a window table and soon 5 or 6 Italian guys (regulars for sure) piled in and joined me. They probably figured I wasn’t Italian and didn’t speak their language… I said “ciao” when leaving and thankfully got smiles all around.
Meals and Riposo
Time has new meaning in Pozzallo – a massive change from fast-paced Belgrade! In Belgrade lunch begins around 2 pm. Food is available whenever you’re hungry, but you’re likely to get a funny look if you order lunch early.
In Pozzallo lunch is between 11 and 1 and everything closes for riposo from 1 until 4…. Dinner is after 8. Most gelato shops stay open all day, even during siesta, and locals start flocking to them around 4 pm.
Fish, Food, New Apartment
Pozzallo is a fishing village (population 20,000) with a commercial port and “ancient nautical traditions”. It’s a popular seaside resort for Italians but few tourists from other countries know about it. If you’re not fluent in Italian, the language barrier is challenging.
You can buy fish from fishermen coming back to the harbor early in the morning. There are fresh fish shops everywhere and it’s super clean and pink – zero smell. Fresh vegetables and cheese are also great.
This is my 6th kitchen since I began traveling in October, each one with a new stove, pots, and cooking utensils to learn. This Italian kitchen has a gas stove hooked to a propane tank. You turn on the gas and then use a lighter to start the burners – new for me. I’m getting better at it and hope I don’t burn myself while lighting the stove or forget to turn the propane off at night… The mocha pot makes fantastic strong coffee!
Saro has a beautiful villa on the coast that he rents for 250 € / night. It has a swimming pool, sleeps 7 to 8, and looks beautiful.
High tourist season begins in June. I’m an early arrival. The apartment is comfortable with beautiful knotty pine doors and closets. It has a wrap-around deck and the sea is visible between buildings. A walk to the promenade takes a few minutes.
There are a few problems with my apartment that Saro is addressing – slowly. Like kitchens, this is my 6th landlord – enough said… Pozzallo internet is slow and I haven’t been able to download many photos – succeeded with a few. Not sure why some download and others don’t – probably the size.
Ferries, Catamarans, Tours
For the time being, I’m content not renting a car. Anything you might need or want is within walking distance. Pozzallo has ferries and catamarans to Valletta Malta, Catania, and points along the Sicilian coast. Buses are inexpensive and easy for exploring nearby Sicilian villages. I may rent a bicycle and will take a few group walking tours. For now, I’m acclimating. Nearby places of interest include:
Weather is mild in the 60s – 70s. Since we’re on the coast, early spring can be windy and bone-chilling cold at night. Thunderstorms come and clear quickly. It’s raining today, with a series of storms on the way.
Beaches and Environment
The FEE (Foundation for Environmental Education) awarded Pozzallo four Blue Flag beaches. To qualify a beach must meet “strict criteria for water quality, environmental education, management, and safety”. Eight beaches in Sicily have the Blue Flag designation, including the four in Pozzallo.
Pozzallo’s recycling procedure is formidable. The Italian instructions describe preparation and pickup days for organic waste, glass, plastics, and rubbish. Sorting the containers and determining the correct day for each pickup is confusing. I learned to watch what others put out and follow their lead.
My apartment on Via Carlo Pisacane is near Torre Cabrera is an ancient tower in the heart of Pozzallo. It was part of a coastal defense system built in the early fifteenth century to protect Pozzallo from pirates. The complex includes piers, warehouses, and equipment for loading ships.
Lido Isola Verde
Lido Isola Verde, a promenade Beach Club, provides loungers and umbrellas for beach bums, sunbathers, and swimmers. There’s also a picnic area and a small bar. It’s off season so no one is there now :o) – a great place to ponder the sea. I took a short walk today in the rain and the surf was wild!
Piazza della Rimembranza
Piazza della Rimembranza is in Pozzallo’s city center. Gorgeous buildings line the uncrowded streets. I’m still exploring the piazza and side streets
A narrow, long beach hugging Pozzallo’s waterfront Spiaggia Pietrenere is a scenic 7-mile walk from Pozzallo to Santa Maria di Focallo. The walk is definitely on my to do list – maybe a few times a week. The firm golden sand is great for walking and the shoreline surf is shallow for some distance.
Pozzallo is all about the sea! I’ll be here through April. Addio – più tardi…