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Interview with Vittoria

Posted by on Friday, June 2, 2017 in 2017 Blog post.

I interviewed Vittoria on the train ride back to Cefalù from Siracusa, which was June 1 around 2:00 pm. Vittora is a teacher at Culturforum in Cefalù and has been our tour guide throughout this trip. She lives in a town about 10km outside of Palermo. I was interested in the differences between family life in Sicily and family life in the United States, so I decided to ask Vittora about certain aspects of family life. First, I was curious if it was common for people to stay in the same area that they grew up in or move far away from home. Vittoria said that it was more common for kids to stay close to home once they move out. She, for example, grew up in a town very close to the town she currently lives in and went to a university close to her town. She said that times are changing, however, because younger generations are having difficulty finding work in the small towns they grew up in so many move away to larger cities or to mainland Italy. Also, it is becoming more common for people to go to specialized universities further from home. Vittoria’s two sons, however, decided not to attend a university so they still live near Vittoria. In the United States, it is very common for kids to move away from the area that they grew up in, which is the direction that Sicily is heading in.

I also learned that it is very common for both parents to work because it is difficult to raise a family here on just one salary. Many women will work as teachers or nurses if they had gone to university, otherwise they could work as cleaners at local hotels. I also was curious about how much independence children have here, because in the United States it seems like parents are becoming more and more controlling and involved in their children’s lives. Vittoria said the same thing is happening in Sicily. When she was a kid, children had much more independence. She always got herself to and from school and spent a lot of time entertaining herself. Now, however, parents almost always walk their kids to school even if the school is right down the street and are generally more involved.

I also was curious around what age that Sicilians moved out of their parents’ house. Vittoria laughed and said it was very common for people to live with their parents long after graduating from university. She said this was so common because it is difficult for younger people to find jobs in Sicily, so if they can’t find a job they can’t be financially independent from their parents. Parents usually want their children to move out and be independent, but sometimes it just is not an option until they find steady work, which can take years here.

In my family, our family dinners every night are very important to us, because since we are busy all day this is a time that we can just relax and enjoy talking to each other. Vittoria said that meals are also very important in Sicilian culture, and that she always made time to have lunch with her children when she worked near their school. Lastly, I was curious about around what age Sicilians started drinking. In Texas, I found it to be common for teenagers to start drinking around 16 or 17, and it would usually be with their friends. Vittoria and her kids do not drink that much, but Vittoria said that in Sicily some teenagers to start drinking small amounts of wine with their parents around age 13 or 14, but there are also many Sicilians that follow the legal age and start drinking only once they turn 18. From what I learned from Vittoria, many aspects of Sicilian and American family life seem to be very similar.

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