In Sicily, shopping requires patience, time and most of all knowledge of the opening hours of the stores. For the untrained (read foreign) eye it can sometimes seem like shops are more closed than they’re open, due to the mid day siesta, the regular religious holidays or for other reasons we are yet to understand. However, after a while it becomes clear that the shops just follow the Sicilian lifestyle, which includes that nobody leaves the house during the three hour lunch break. Everyone instead prefers to do all the shopping, chatting and hanging out in the mornings or the evenings.
In Sicily, unlike in Sweden, you can still find small private specialised shops on every street corner. There are a few larger chains, but they are certainly in the minority.
When it comes to food shopping, Italians seem to go to their local store for their milk, pasta and canned goods, but for the rest they prefer the butcher, the vegetable man and of course the baker. This means that shopping can take quite some time, with the need to pop into several stores to find all the items on your list. However, Sicilians seem to see it as an excuse to socialise with their neighbours.
Since not all villages have specialised stores, there are plenty of mobile sellers who drive from village to village and park in the square, to sell fresh vegetables, fish or meat. Their schedule seems even more random than the shop opening times so it’s difficult to catch one on purpose, but we’re always happy to buy some fresh produce if we happen to come across one in our village.
Another peculiarity when it comes to Sicilian shops is their names. Instead of naming the shop after what they sell, they like to inform potential customers of what the shop doesn’t only sell. In our local village the little food store is called “Non solo carne” or “Not just meat” and in Ribera the tool shop is called “Non solo ferrmente” or “Not just iron”.
We wonder if the Mafia should perhaps follow this trend and rename themselves “Not just extortion”?