Italy - The exciting background to the huge waste problem

Italy - Sicily's huge rubbish problem

The island of Sicily suffers from massive pollution. We read that tourists now think twice about coming here and even locals are outraged. Everywhere we see mountains of rubbish bags, often torn open, with stray animals looking for food or even rats running around.

The island's cities are drowning in rubbish chaos, while the mafia seems to profit from it. Even the Sicilians, who are normally tough, we read, are appalled by the pollution of the beaches, streets and cities. Why and how the mafia earns money from it is not clear to us.

As we drive along the coast, there is not an inch of road without rubbish. We see tons of plastic bottles, kitchen utensils, rubbish bags and even refrigerators and sofas. The cultural treasures and beautiful nature of the island stand in stark contrast to the rubbish.

We do a little research because the issue seems to haunt us. Sicily suffers from waste problems because the previous governors of the region have been protective of the operators of private landfills and have failed to establish a publicly controlled landfill.

There are even some investigations underway against the operators of the landfills for illegal toxic waste disposal, illegal operation and bribery of politicians and officials. Two landfills were recently closed because millions in bribes were found hidden in plastic canisters under the rubbish.

Now that there are not enough landfills, the rubbish is simply not collected. And what do you do then? They simply put their rubbish bags by the roadside. Mountains pile up, it stinks to high heaven and when the wind is strong, everything is spread all over the island.

For us, it is sometimes not so easy to find clean places. And then we also make rubbish. Not much, but still. When we arrive at a nice spot, and there are so many, we take out our rubbish snapper and clean up what we call our front garden for a short time. There is only one hurdle we have to overcome each time: Where to put the filled rubbish bags? So far, however, we have always found some public rubbish bin.

We, at least, have got into the habit of this "clean-my-own-garden-and-enjoy-philosophy" and carry on. That's the way it is for us. And hope that many campers and vanlifers think the same way: "We leave the place cleaner than we find it".

Oh, don't worry, we won't be moaning about the rubbish in the next few posts either. Sicily is far too beautiful for that!

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Best regards - Heike & Gerd


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7 days ago

There's a lot I can think of to say.....
Too much....😉

Sicily drops out when travelling.

6 days ago
Reply to  Rachel

Dear Rachel
yes, it's sad as hell. But to miss out on the beautiful area, the great gelato and the powerful female energy of Etna?
think again!

But Calabria and Apulia are at least as beautiful!

Best regards!