5 Top Tips: How to Park like a Sicilian

Can’t find a parking space?

Sicilians can. Take a leaf out of their book.

Parking Idea # 1 – The Forty-Fiver

So-named because you park at 45 degrees to the pavement, this technique is ideal if the available space is not actually big enough for your car, if you know you’ll need to make a quick getaway, or if you are simply a terrible driver who cannot park properly.

When space is very limited, you may have to go in at a perpendicular 90 degrees, which means you’ll have to utilise the entire pavement as well. If you do so, expect to find teenagers socialising with slices of pizza upon the bonnet of your car when you get back.


Parking Idea #2 – The wraparound

An old favourite of mothers on the school run, the concept behind this parking style is that you wrap your car around the corner of two adjoining streets. This is widely used when there is not enough space to park your car at the end of either road without poking out beyond the corner, so instead you curve around from one to the other.

This is also handy in no-parking zones [note the signs behind this car]. The Vigili Urbani cannot give you a parking ticket because, strictly speaking, you are not really parked in either street, are you?

Yet whilst taking your precious offspring off to receive an education, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you are blocking the traffic in not just one street, but two.


Parking Idea #3 – The Pavement Perch

This one is so simple, anyone could have thought of it.

But if you were driving that red van, do you think you could screech up there onto the pavement in reverse, park with a wrench of the hand brake and sprint away fast enough to avoid any “discussion” WHILE the driver of the grey hatchback was carefully parking in the road beside you?


Parking Idea #4 – The Handy Cap

Only a Sicilian could come up with this one.

Here’s the scenario. You have gone up and down the road four times, there’s no gap except the one for disabled people with yellow badges – clearly indicated by a no-parking sign with a picture of a wheelchair on it – and you need to dash into Celiachia Point to buy some gluten-free cannoli before you go into hypoglycemic shock.

What do you do?

You double-park outside the imaginary car that isn’t in the disabled parking space. That way, you have not parked illegally in the disabled space. You have not blocked anyone in. You have got your cannoli.

Everyone is happy and the Vigili Urbani have no idea what to do with you.

Other than ask for a bit of your cannoli, of course.


Parking Idea #5 – The Double Decker

When space is too limited, this may be the only option. Just bear in mind, it takes real driving skill to get away once you’re up there.


Amazingly enough, this one was actually photographed in England! No doubt it was a rental car driven by a Sicilian on holiday.

So there you have it: five ways to park when there is nowhere to park. Now off you go, rev your engine and head off to the busiest city centre you know. Suddenly, when it comes to parking, you’ll realise you’re spoiled for choice!

Meanwhile, here are some other creative approaches to parking from around the world:

This would not even be worthy of photographing or even comment in Sicily. Why would you cram yourself into a tiny space when there’s so much lovely room?



This car is parked in a cycle lane, which is what most Sicilians regard as reserved handy roadside parking space. The mayor of this town in Lithuania thinks otherwise.



15 Comments Add yours

  1. hilarious, and very similar to the attitude to parking ( and life really) here in tbe anarchic wilds of North West rural County Donegal in Ireland, thanks for a great post 🙂


    1. Ha ha! Glad you enjoyed it!
      My memories of a holiday in Ireland (County Clare) were marked by the most relaxing driving experience imaginable because all the roads were basically empty. 🙂 Though I did see a strangely high number of cars wrapped around lampposts and wondered how that happened!
      I shall beware if I ever visit Donegal 😀


      1. Most likely round here to be down a drain ( I would say ‘ ditch’, but ditch refers to a stone wall or bank here, and what I would call a ditch, of which there are many and deep along the edges of roads, is called a drain) 🙂


      2. Oh, that reminds me of my Welsh Dad and all his strange uses of words to do with water!
        In Wales the sink means the drainage hole outside into the sewage system, and the kitchen sink is called the Bosh!
        And yes I remember seing various cars down “drains” in Ireland!!!!


  2. Anna says:

    You would do so well in Russia!


  3. Expat Eye says:

    Again, pretty similar to here! The Handy Cap is a classic 🙂


  4. I’ve seen a good few of these in France. Hope you’re well!


  5. Ankur Mithal says:

    Very handy tips for Indian drivers as well.


  6. Enrica Goe says:

    Hi I just want to say I love your blog. You are a terrific writer! Thank you for letting me know what to expect on Wednesday when my sister and I will travel from New York to a Sicilian town called Mascali to stay with my mother’s first cousins and family. Thanks also for helping me understand why my mother ironed everything. Cheers, Enrica “Ricki” Goe


    1. I’m glad you enjoy my blog and I hope you have a fantastic time here in sunny Sicily!


  7. Marlena says:

    I rented a small car from the airport in Palermo a few years back to visit my family’s home town of Trabia. Boy, that was an eye opener, but not as bad as I had anticipated. We arrived the same day as a religious celebration and drove to the town at night, first mistake. Second mistake, no GPS.
    Loved your posts on mafia and history of Africa’s influence. I have read many books on Sicilia, but through my geneaology research, and talking to locals about my great great uncle who was a Monsignoir, that mafia and church were well connected. I was even told not to buy property in the town because the presence of the mafia still exists. There was a huge mafia bust just days before our arrival. There is also an anti mafia group in town, mostly the younger generation who are trying to open small businesses to bring in tourists to improve jobs and the town’s reputation as being a strong hold for the mafia.


    1. It seems that the young people all over Sicily are the ones leading the fight against the Mafia. I guess the older ones either don’t care any more.
      We had a massive Mafia bust in our town earlier this year – they arrested 32 major bosses I was very pleased at two of them were immediate, unpleasant neighbours of mine!


  8. A Plaia says:

    Moving to Sicily has definitely been an eye opener. I live in Sciacca/Castelvetrano and have bits and pieces to do regularly in Palermo. Many of your posts are bang on target. I despair for the young people – of course there is a brain drain because the cleverest and boldest leave Sicily and possibly Italy. I wonder what Sicily will look like in 50 or so years, poorly qualified teachers, public officials and politicians. Enterprise stifled by corruption, cronyism and absurd bureaucracy. Sigh 😦


    1. It’s so depressing isn’t it? My husband had a woman in his office today – it’s the Palermo law courts – who cold not speak Italian and, when the boss asked her to go to the Post Office (which was her job) she said, in bad Sicilian, “No I can’t go there, I don’t know how to read or write! You’re so mean and nasty, why are you bossing me around all the time?”
      This woman gets paid 800 Euros a month for acting like this – all she did was smoke in the toilets and complain that they didn’t give her her own desk with a computer!!! (Even though she cannot read).
      Just tragic.


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