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Finding Those Elusive Low Fares to Sicily

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Looking at autumn transportation costs from Rome to Palermo, it's possible to find some very attractive low fares, with the luxury of advance planning and early bookings. Here's a recap:

BY AIR:

One-way fares as low as 44 Euros (Blu-Express) and 54.50 Euros (Easy Jet), in both cases with one piece of checked luggage and payment by credit card. For a few more Euros, Alitalia has the widest selection of flights by far. Other fares can be MUCH higher. Remember to add land transportation costs to get to both airports (anywhere from 10 to 20 Euros, depending on method used, taxis excluded). Windjet has very recently ceased operations after failed merger talks with Alitalia. Alitalia and Blu-Express also fly to Catania from Roma FCO. Ryainair flies to Trapani from Roma CIA.

www.blu-express.com
www.easyjet.com
www.alitalia.it
www.ryanair.com

OPINION: Without question, the fastest and most desirable solution, although the lowest fares usually require a long advance purchase. If connecting from overseas, passengers booked on Alitalia or its frequent flier partners Delta and Air France (among others) are protected if they miss their connecting Alitalia flight to Palermo or Catania. This is not the case if flying on to Sicily on one of the low-cost carriers. More people travel to Sicily by air than by the other methods of transportation.


BY DAYLIGHT TRAIN:

Trenitalia has two daylight direct Intercity trains to Palermo in 11.5 hours, with a "BASE" fare of 65.50 Euros in second class. Discounted SUPER ECONOMY fares (nonchangeable and nonrefundable) are also offered at 9 - 19 - 29 Euros. Remember to check SUPER ECONOMY fares in FIRST CLASS as well, which can sometimes be very attractive. (However, there is little difference between first and second class on the Intercity train to Sicily). These trains make numerous stops along Sicily's northern coast, including Milazzo and Cefalu. Comparable fares can be found on Trenitalia's daylight direct Intercity trains to Messina, Taormina, Catania and Siracusa (and a few other towns en-route). It's actually the same Intercity train from Rome, which divides in half at Messina.

www.trenitalia.it

OPINION: Some may find the train slow and tedious, while others believe that it's a good way to "see the terrain" and gain an appreciation for the territory. Bear in mind that the train often runs late, and the washrooms often leave much to be desired. However, parts of the trip are quite appealing, especially the crossing of the Straits of Messina on the train ferry, when it's possible to leave your train compartment (asking the Trenitalia agent to lock the sliding glass door) and proceed to the topside observation deck. Much of Sicily's northern coastline is also lovely to cross by train. All-in-all, something to consider at least once. Bear in mind that you lose an entire day by taking the daylight train.


BY OVERNIGHT BUS:

The bus departs at 21:00 from Tiburtina bus depot and arrives at Palermo's new bus depot adjacent to the train station the next morning. Travel time is 12 hours, and departures are 2-3 times per week. Fares range from 29.50 to 37 Euros. There is also direct bus service to Messina, Milazzo, Cefalu, Trapani, Catania and a host of other towns in southern and western Sicily (with fares under 50 Euros).

www.onbus.it
www.autoservizisalemi.it

OPINION: If you like Greyhound, you'll like this bus. Often, the only low-cost option available with a last-moment booking. Otherwise, 12 hours on an overnight bus is far from comfortable, even with reclining seats. If you're looking for overnight, travel, you're better off taking the ferry from either Civitavecchia or Naples.


MORE OVERNIGHT TRAVEL OPTIONS:

1. Trenitalia Intercity Night train with couchettes and sleeping compartments
2. Grandi Navi Veloci car ferry from Civitavecchia to Palermo
3. SNAV and Tirrenia car ferry from Naples to Palermo
4. TTT Lines car ferry from Naples to Catania
5. Siremar car ferry from Naples to Aeolian Islands and Milazzo

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