Sicily does actually have its own language, Sicilian, and this language is still spoken in many parts of the island although most often by the older generation. Most younger people only focus on Italian and Italian is certainly the language you will want to study if you are planning a trip as a tourist to Sicily.
Whether you are visiting Sicily and other parts of Italy for a holiday, vacation, to buy a holiday home or as a stop-over on a cruise or for any reason in fact, speaking a few words of the local language is always going to be a way to ingratiate yourself with the locals. You will in return find that you get more out of the experience culturally given that local people are likely to treat you with more respect if you can say those few basic words and expressions. In Sicily also, few people speak English and other non-Italian languages and so you will find in many situations that you actually kind of need to speak some Italian, or to be get good at explaining things with your hands.
If you are looking to buy property, the more Italian you have the better. You are strongly advised though in this situation to ensure that you have an Italian speaking solicitor to check very carefully through all text in Italian. Do take great care to find a reputable Italian and English speaker when dealing with any such documents.
Italian is a language that unlike English, French and Spanish and some other popular languages, is not really spoken much outside of its own country. Take Spanish and outside of Spain, many parts of Central and South America speak the language. With English many countries such as Australia, NZ, USA and Canada speak it. Learn Italian and it tends only to be useful when in Italy. If you plan to spend any time in Italy though, learning Italian can be fun and a great language to study.
Without question, the easiest and fastest way to learn any language is to live and breathe the language and culture in its own territory, i.e. in this case to learn Italian by spending time living in Italy. After 6 months of intensive study in Italy you can find that you are at least to intermediate level in Italian, whilst some will be speaking a decent level in that time.
One of the newest learning options is Rosetta Stone self study and Italian is one of the language available through this system. I actually use Rosetta Stone Italian myself and have found the courses to be extremely good. These courses which can be studied on your computer or iPad include speech, reading and listening exercises and are very thorough. These courses are used by diplomats and governments and are a great and affordable way to learn any language in my view. When I say affordable you might feel that the £300 or so for the full course is high. When you consider though that you can study a night school style course and pay roughly the same amount of money and not in reality learn that much, the Rosetta Stone courses which you can years using, are a great option.
I started off originally using Michel Thomas CDs and if you are on the move i.e. have a long daily commute in the car, then these are another brilliant way to learn Italian! Thomas was a prisoner of war who learned a number of languages which he then taught in his later years through his series of CDs. Once you get used to his voice, you will find the Cds a good and quick way to learn to a good level of Italian. With the Cds you need no paper or pen. You just need to listen and repeat. You can learn more from the Michel Thomas website.
The BBC Italian website is another choice if you just want to learn a few very basic phrases and just to get an idea of what the language is like.
Another way and which works best in addition to one of the above methods, is to watch Italian TV. The good news is that you can do this for free online and some sites which provide this services are as follows:
Watching the Italian news online is a great way to put into practice your listening skills. A combination of studying Rosetta Stone Italian and watching Rai News once a day is a great way to get started!
If you want to study Italian in Sicily then the major cities such as Catania, Palermo and Taormina all have English schools. These learning give you the added benefit of being able to also study face-to-face with native speakers. In Catania Scuola Italiano is one option.