Sicily is Not Italy Graffiti as Seen in Palermo

Is Sicily a Part of Italy? Yes! Yet Sicily Has Autonomy, Here’s Why

Have you ever heard someone say “Sicily is not Italy” and thought, wait, is Sicily a part of Italy? The short answer is yes, Sicily is a part of Italy. The slightly more complicated answer is that Sicily is one of five autonomous regions in Italy.

Is Sicily a Part of Italy?

Sicily’s autonomy is where much of the confusion around whether or not Sicily is a part of Italy comes in. So today, I’m sharing a quick story about how I learned what the five autonomous regions of Italy are and what it means to be an autonomous region in Italy. Plus, the history of the separatist movement and why some Sicilians today still say “Sicily is not Italy.”

What Are The Five Autonomous Regions of Italy?

The five autonomous regions of Italy are Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the islands Sicily and Sardinia, and Aosta Valley, a stone’s throw from my home in the Italian Alps.

Yet it was not until traveling to the Marche region just a few months ago that I learned about the autonomous regions of Italy. 

I know! Bad dual citizen, bad!

If you follow ALOR Italy, you might have caught the story in our post about San Marino, one of two independent countries inside the boot of Italy, along with the Vatican.

In case you missed it, a quick recap. 

During our road trip to San Marino, Paolo jokingly asked me if I was ready to see a new country. I thought he was talking about our next international trip. Instead, he meant San Marino, a small independent microstate inside Italy with a storied history of respect from world leaders.

When Paolo realized he’d caught me by surprise, he decided he’d give me a little Italy history lesson that included autonomous regions of Italy. 

Now, at this point in the story, unlike me, you already know what the five autonomous regions are in Italy. If you want to know what it means to be an autonomous region of Italy, keep reading!

What Being Autonomous Means for Sicily

Being autonomous means Sicily retains its own President of Regional Government. In addition, as an autonomous region, Sicily has exclusive control of its regional legislation in certain regional matters. They include things like agriculture, forestry, and town planning. In other words, Sicily retains control of some of the stunning landscapes in the gallery below.

Don’t miss our 35 Colorful Pictures of Sicily Destinations photo gallery. Plus subscribe below to get our upcoming post on Sicily Cities and Towns to plan a trip around.

Why Was Sicily Granted Autonomy

Since I always want to know why Sicily has autonomy, I ask Paolo. Thankfully, my husband is a variable encyclopedia of Italian history!

Frustrated with centuries of exploitation, Sicilians formed a separatist movement seeking to make Sicily an independent nation. They did so at an inopportune time for the King during World War II between 1943 and 1947.

When the Allies invaded in July 1942, Sicilians welcomed them, hoping to seize the opportunity to make Sicily an independent nation. After the war, crisis conditions on the island helped the separatist movement gain support from landowners, members of the middle class, and the mafia.

The Italian government was vulnerable to Sicilian separatists until 1945. Radical tactics used by the most extreme separatists alienated landowners and members of the middle class.

At the same time, the mafia began to fear the influence and communist leaning of separatist leader Andrea Finocchiaro Aprile. This is when the mafia opened talks with the Italian government, which opened separatists up to an Italian government crackdown.

With Finocchiaro Aprile and many of his associates under arrest, the momentum of the separatist movement lost power.

Is Sicily a Part of Italy, Final Thoughts

King Umberto II of Savoy granted Sicily status as an autonomous region in May 1946. It was a strategic move that undercut the threat of a separatist movement. Since then, there have been enough electoral defeats that Separatist movements have failed to regain footing in Sicily.

Europe's Separatist States: Every Place Trying to Escape - TLDR News

So while a deep-rooted Sicilian resistance against centralized authority is still expressed in the phrase “Sicily is not Italy,” Sicily is still a part of Italy.

After road-tripping around Sicily, I understand why Sicilians are so proud and passionate about their land. It’s one of the most beautiful corners of Italy.

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  1. Love this post! I remember being in Sicily at a hotel and when I made a comment to the concierge about …”Oh I forgot we’re in Italy”… (no one was answering the phone at the airport customer service desk) he looked at me and sternly and said “NO- Sicily!”