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Anti-tourist looking for authentic Sicily experience (next week)

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Hi - I have 5-6 days to spend in Sicily and I am looking for an off the beaten path, un-touristy experience. I'll see some sights as I go (churches, ruins, mosaics, Baroque inspiration, the amphitheatre, culture influences), but I'm more about the experience than the photo opportunity. I'm poring over the travel reports and searching the corners of the web, but I'd greatly appreciate any recommendations that will contribute to an authentic experience (unique cities/villages/sights, food experiences, agriturismo farms, B&Bs, welcoming locals, where to find my prince, etc).

Here's the scoop. I am a female in my late 20s traveling solo. I'm flying from DC to Rome Monday morning and back the following Monday (March 7 - 14). I traveled in Italy while studying abroad in Rome 5 years ago, but only made it slightly farther south than Vesuvius. This time I plan on spending most of my time in Sicily (Tues - Sun). Since the trip is short as it is, I'd like to make the most of it and get to know the region as best I can.

On Tuesday, I'll fly into Palermo at noon (and out of Catania on Sun.). I've heard Palermo's passeggiatta is worth seeing. Is it worth sticking around for?Any other suggestions in the area or en route East? From there, I guess I'll bus or train across the island and focus the rest of the trip on the Ionian Coast with a base near Catania? (although every time I read about another region, I want to go there too). Towns that seem appealing are Taormina, Catania, Siracusa/Ostrigia, although I can't seem to narrow down, which to daytrip, which to stay overnight, or both. I may need to stop in Messina very briefly (although I haven't heard great things). I have heard good things about Noto, Ragusa, Piazza Armenina. I toyed with the idea of visiting the AeoIian Islands or Pantelleria, but I don't think I have time. Help! there are too many options.

I want to climb Mt. Etna while I am there. I'm an avid cyclist and have considered renting a bike for transportation or to ride between neighboring villages. I'm also content to just sit in a cafe, stroll through town or beach, read in the park, share a bottle of wine in the square with locals, or etc. Also, I really love great italian food and will travel for it, obviously. Activities, hidden treasures, great restaurants, etc. are welcome.

I've seen a number of affordable agriturismos or B&Bs that look reliable but I have not booked anything yet (b/c I can't decide which area). I'm not above a hostel or hotel at the right price (like Hotel Isola Bella?), but I'd prefer something with more local flavor. I'm typically a planner, but being the off-season, it seems like I could be ok without a reservation and just play it by ear. What's the off-season like in Sicily? Any thoughts? Suggestions? Reccommendations?

Thanks in advance!! That should cover everything, but if you need more info, let me know.

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