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Just moved to Messina, please help

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I've lived in Italy for 2 years now - my Italian is passable and getting better - and I've just set up shop in Messina, Sicily. I have the most predictable expat job there is - TEFL teacher. Anyway, I was wondering if any of you who also live here could give me some advice, as I'm a little clueless about:

1. Skiing - I know you can ski on Etna, but when? Best way to get there on public transport? How much is gear hire / lift pass? Any experienced Etna skiers who can advise me?

2. Scuba diving - I've always wanted to do this but have absolutely zero idea how to start, where to go etc. Again, if anyone is familiar with how to do this in Messina or hereabouts, then please get in touch.

3. Chess - one of my passions. Does anyone play, know any chess clubs, any particular cafes where people gather to play etc?

4. Hill-walking near here - again, the same basic question as 1 and 2, above - any good routes or maps with routes?

5. Any shops for expat food?

6. Any libraries or bookshops that have English-language stuff, especially second-hand? Any expat book-swap groups?

7. Any club nights for rockabilly / mod / psyche / ska / reggae / punk music? I doubt that such nights take place here though. I used to DJ a bit in London and was thinking about starting something up, maybe at one of the universities, but I don't know how much call there would be.

8. Any expat hangouts? I hear that the university has quite a few international students - where do they knock about?

9. A matter of some urgency for me - an Italian teacher who would do Eng/Ital tandem lessons? They must be trained teachers - just being Italian madrelingua isn't enough.

Finally, if anyone wants to meet up for a drink with a rockabilly in his mid-30s who teaches TEFL and is obsessed with books, films, music and chess, please feel free to get in touch! [...]

Many thanks,


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