Sicily in detail

Health & insurance

Before You Go

Health Insurance

If you're an EU citizen, an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) covers you for free or reduced-cost public medical care but not for emergency repatriation. It is available from health centres in your home country. Citizens from countries outside the EU should find out if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Italy (Australia, for example, has such an agreement; carry your Medicare card with you).

US citizens should check whether their health-insurance plan offers coverage for hospital or medical costs abroad – many don't. The US Medicare service provides no coverage outside the US. If you do need health insurance, make sure you get a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures abroad.

In Sicily

Availability & Cost of Health Care

Italy's public-health system is legally bound to provide urgent care to everyone. For emergency treatment go to the pronto soccorso (casualty/emergency) section of an ospedale (public hospital), where it's also possible to receive emergency dental treatment. For less serious ailments call the local guardia medica (duty doctor) – ask at your hotel or nearest tourist office for the number.

Pharmacists will fill prescriptions and can provide basic medical advice. Larger cities generally have a farmacia di turno (a designated pharmacy keeping late-night hours on a rotating basis to ensure round-the-clock emergency service).

Tap Water

While tap water is reliable and safe throughout the region, most Sicilians prefer to drink acqua minerale (bottled mineral water). It will be either frizzante (sparkling) or naturale (still), and you will be asked in restaurants and bars which you prefer. If you want a glass of tap water, ask for acqua del rubinetto.