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FAQs & Information: Travel Safety

People in general have reservations about traveling to Sicily because of Hollywood's inflation and over-glamourization of the Mafia.  Sicily is not like the old west where there is a gunfight in the towns square every day at noon.  Safety is a relevant thing.  Here is a prime example of what I mean:  My cousin Maria lived in Long Island City in Queens, NY all her life.  For over 30 years she was born raised and lived in this area of New York City that is not the worst, but certainly not the best either.  In any case, she never encountered being mugged or robbed personally.  She took a flight to Rome and was there less than 48 hours before her purse was snatched from her.  Thugs raced by on motor scooters (mopeds) and got her purse.  How does a hardcore New Yorker get mugged anywhere?  She was a tourist and tourists stand out, no matter where you go, no matter how much you try to fit in, you look different, you dress different, you can speak Italian perfectly, but no matter where you are on this planet, you know when a person is not from around here.  So what do you do? Not travel? Of course not.  Just be aware.  Do not carry purses.  Women should carry a wallet with their credit cards, money and personal information and keep it in their front pocket.  If you have to carry a purse, make sure nothing of value is in it, or that is to say, something that you will not miss if it is stolen.  Dare I say such items as makeup, travel maps, tissues, sunglasses, things of that nature that you can easily replace.  Never leave all of your money all in one place either.  These rules go for men too.  Do not leave your wallet in your back pocket. No matter how secure you are thinking that no one can take it without your knowing, they can, and if someone bumps into you, and starts running, chances are you will never catch up to them.  They have their getaway route planned and know those streets better than you ever could.

Common Sense:  As always, common sense and gut instinct should play a major role no matter where you travel.  Do not take a back road or street because it is less populated and faster to get through.  Stay in plain view, where there are people.  Do not walk close to buildings, rather walk closer to the street, as you can be pulled in to building corridors if people are trying to mug or abduct you.  Mace helps, or one of those whistles, whether you are a male or female, but ask your travel agent and be sure mace and/or other things like pepper spray are legal FIRST.

Harassment:  Italian men are great flirts, and that is putting it mildly.  In fact, if they did half of what they did to women in Italy in the US, they would be arrested and have a serious lawsuit on their hands.  They especially adore American women.  They are best ignored, do not encourage them, just keep walking. They will follow you, telling you how beautiful you are, and again, in the US it can be very scary and dangerous, but in Italy, its more of a sport and harmless for the most part.  They are Italian men, it is entertainment, there is no justification or defense for it, it is just a different culture, and again, in most cases it is harmless fun to them.

Mafia: The big boogieman the Mafiosa. Again, in spite of Hollywood stereotypes do not like a lot of attention and generally do not bother people randomly.  Basic rule of thumb no matter where you travel: Do not go out of your way to make anyone mad, you never know who you are talking to or who they are, whether it is undercover police, thug, a member of the mafia or whatever.  If you bump into someone, simply apologize and move along quickly.  The biggest mistake anyone can ever make is pursuing confrontation in a place where you are not a native.  Even if you are in the right, remember, locals will always side with their own rather than a tourist, and ultimately, it is not worth the legal or medical problems.  It is far easier to apologize and move along rather than pick a fight with a local.   


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