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Trip Report Navigating in Sicily---a trip report

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NAVIGATING IN SICILY---A TRIP REPORT:
By BOB the NAVIGATOR---MAY, 2005

OVERVIEW:
It was our 13th trip to Italy and Sicily was the obvious choice. In hindsight, I feel that our overall strategy was very good. We decided to travel in May based on the positive feedback from Jim Zurer about the favorable weather and the abundance of wild flowers. Both proved to be highlights of the trip.

We decided on a 15 day itinerary and 5 primary destinations. You could possibly see Sicily from 3 locations, but I felt 5 is better given the time.
We bought 3 guide books, including the DK-- TOP 10 SICILY, and set the itinerary based on a clockwise rotation, starting in Taormina and ending in Palermo. You could easily do the same itinerary in reverse. We also decided to stay in the better hotels at the beginning and end and to not have a car in those locations. That proved to be wise. So, we flew into Catania on Air One via Rome and returned from Palermo, again using Air One via Rome. We used private drivers arranged thru the hotels for both airport transfers. We got our rental car as we left Taormina and dropped it on arrival in Palermo.

Deciding the final itinerary was not easy. I originally wanted to include the Aeolian Islands and exclude Palermo but some wise heads on slowtrav.com convinced me that you have not seen Sicily without seeing Palermo. Of the top 10 attractions listed in the DK book, we saw 8 of the 10. The exceptions were the islands and Mt Etna. I had ventured up Mt. Etna in 2000 as part of my Puglia trip, and Susan was not too eager. Actually, you could plan day trips from Taormina to include both of those destinations very easily. So, our final itinerary looked like this:
• Arrive Catania—transfer to Taormina—3 nites
• Get the car---drive to Siracusa area---3 nites [ Labor Day]
• Drive to near Piazza Amerina---2 nites
• Drive to west coast via Agrigento—stay at Selinunte—3 nites
• Drive to Palermo via Monreale—drop car---4 nites

We had the luxury of 15 nites and this trip timing made good sense. With only 10 nites you could pick 3 overnite destinations but would have to compromise on your choice of locations to visit.

Now I will give some of the details of our 5 destinations. Please do not expect me to tell what we had for breakfast—it was always adequate. Also, I will not insult your intelligence or reading ability by listing the primary attractions for each destination---that is why they write guide books. I will tell you some insights based on our experiences that will hopefully enhance your trip. I may also skip one of the nuances of European travel that has always intrigued me---the many and varied plumbing mechanisms designed to merely flush a toilet. I only counted 6 variations on this trip.

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