Sigonella is a small town in the province of Catania, on the eastern coast of Sicily, Italy. It is best known for hosting the Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella, a joint Italian Air Force and U.S. Navy base that serves as a hub for U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean. The base covers an area of about 4,000 acres and hosts more than 40 U.S. commands and activities. The town of Sigonella has a population of about 7,000 people, mostly locals who work at the base or in nearby farms and businesses.
Living in Sigonella as an American can be a rewarding and challenging experience.
On one hand, you can enjoy the benefits of living in a "little America" within the base, with access to facilities and services such as a U.S. Naval Hospital, a commissary, a Navy Exchange, a library, a gym, a cinema, a chapel, a school, and various clubs and organizations. There is even a Taco Bell! It's also fairly easy to interact with and befriend other Americans and military personnel from different backgrounds and cultures. On the other hand, you can also explore the beauty and diversity of Sicily, with its rich history, culture, cuisine, and natural attractions. You can visit the nearby city of Catania, the second largest in Sicily, which offers a vibrant urban life with museums, monuments, markets, restaurants, bars, and nightlife. You can also travel to other destinations in Sicily, such as Palermo, Syracuse, Taormina, Agrigento, and Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe.
There are plenty of things to do in Sigonella and Sicily, depending on your interests and preferences.
Some of the most popular activities include:
Sightseeing: You can visit the many historical and cultural sites in Sicily, such as the Valley of the Temples, the Roman Villa del Casale, the Greek Theatre of Taormina, the Cathedral of Monreale, the Norman Palace of Palermo, and the Baroque towns of Noto, Ragusa, and Modica.
Beaches: You can enjoy the sun and the sea at the numerous beaches in Sicily, such as the sandy beaches of Cefalù, San Vito lo Capo, and Mondello, or the rocky beaches of Acitrezza, Isola Bella, and Scala dei Turchi.
Hiking: You can hike the trails and mountains of Sicily, such as the slopes of Mount Etna, the Madonie Natural Park, the Nebrodi Natural Park, and the Zingaro Natural Reserve.
Food and wine: You can taste the delicious and diverse cuisine of Sicily, which reflects the influences of various civilizations that have ruled the island, such as the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish, and French.
Some of the typical dishes include arancini, pasta alla norma, caponata, cannoli, cassata, and granita.
You can also sample the local wines, such as Nero d’Avola, Etna Rosso, Marsala, and Malvasia.
Like any place, living in Sigonella and Sicily has its pros and cons, which may vary depending on your personal situation and expectations.
Some of the pros are:
Climate: Sicily has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and dry summers and mild and wet winters.
The average temperature ranges from 10°C (50°F) in January to 26°C (79°F) in August.
The sun shines for about 300 days a year, making Sicily one of the sunniest regions in Europe.
Cost of living: Sicily is one of the cheapest regions in Italy, with an average cost of living of $1107 per month, which is 1.18 times less expensive than the national average.
You can find affordable housing, food, transportation, and entertainment options in Sicily, especially if you live outside the base and shop at local markets and stores.
Culture: Sicily has a rich and diverse culture, with a unique blend of influences from various civilizations that have ruled the island over the centuries.
You can experience the art, music, literature, and traditions of Sicily, as well as learn some of the local dialects and languages, such as Sicilian, Sardinian, and Catalan.
Some of the disadvantages are:
Traffic: Sicily is notorious for its chaotic and congested traffic, especially in the urban areas.
Driving in Sicily can be stressful and dangerous, as drivers often disregard traffic rules and signs, speed, overtake, and honk incessantly.
Parking can also be a challenge, as spaces are limited and often occupied by double-parked or illegally parked vehicles.
Bureaucracy: Sicily is also known for its inefficient and complicated bureaucracy, which can make dealing with official matters a hassle and a headache.
Whether you need to register your vehicle, pay your taxes, apply for a permit, or access a public service, you may encounter long waits, endless paperwork, and confusing procedures.
Crime and corruption: Sicily has a reputation for being a hotspot for organized crime, especially the Mafia, which has a long and violent history on the island.
You may face security risks, extortion, corruption, and violence if you get involved with or cross the wrong people.
You may also witness social problems, such as poverty, unemployment, discrimination, and environmental degradation, caused by the lack of effective governance and development.