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Trip Report Savoring Sicily - A Trip Report

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It may be an over-used word, but WOW (!) is now I how I describe my recent visit to Sicily.

Preface:

During trips to Italy over the last 6 years my mom and I never ventured off mainland Italy, I take that back, I was in Capri for about 8 hours in 2009. On previous trips to Italy and upon each of our returns we began hearing more and more about Sicily. Maybe it was only because we were now becoming acutely aware of this fascinating island, but it seemed to us, there wasn’t a travel or food-focused magazine we subscribed to that did not dedicate some space to articles about Sicily at one time or another.

My mom was absolutely astounded by Sicily, she says she really didn’t know what to expect and was just “blown-away” by everything and loved it all. I had a fairly good idea we were going to enjoy our time in Sicily based on the articles and Italy-centric blogs I read and follow, but I never expected to love it as much as I do.

When I saw a price discount offered on the Rick Steves Tour website for his Sicily tour departure dates in February, this intrigued me and I mentioned it to my mom, who is my intrepid travel partner. I know, February may not be the best time of year to visit Sicily, but, the tour departing on Feb. 28th (well, it was practically March!), had a big discount and then we could add our Rick Steves tour alum discount on top of that, and we had over $1000 each in savings. How could we say, “No”? So we didn’t, and booked the tour.

I know people say the best way to see Sicily is to rent a car and I understand where they are coming from, but I know myself well enough to know that if I rented a car and had to deal with driving in a new environment, finding parking and making sure we got to where we wanted to go, I would not have an enjoyable vacation. To reduce my stress level, we had “Uncle Rick” do the driving. However, after being a bus passenger in Sicily I can say, that I could probably handle driving in Sicily, on the autostrada, however driving in the major cities, would be completely off-limits for me, heck, crossing the street in Palermo is challenging enough!

Typically when mom and I have traveled on other Rick Steves tours we like to arrive in the departure city a day or two prior to the tour beginning and this trip was no exception. We were very glad we spent two nights in Palermo before the start of the tour and one night in Palermo after the tour ended.

This tour is advertised as a ten day tour, but in reality it is eight days, because the first “day” with the group does not start until 4pm and the last “day” ends at breakfast, which we have come to find, really means the tour ends the night before with a farewell dinner.

The weather was hit and miss in late February/early March. We had some days of intermittent rain with the sun peeking out. Some days were gloriously sunny. Some days the temps dipped low (remember now, we’re going on 20+ years in South Carolina, so our idea of chilly temperatures is relative to where we live) and we needed to wear layers, but we came prepared and we took the varying weather in stride. One benefit we found to traveling at this time of year was the lack of crowds. In some places that was great (Palermo), in others like Cefalu, there was little to do on a rainy, chilly Sunday (of all days!) in early March, but more on that later.

Our flights from Savannah, Georgia to Palermo were smooth with no glitches. We flew Delta from Savannah to Atlanta to Rome and AlItalia from Rome to Palermo. It’s a long travel day and the 2-ish hour layover in Rome did nothing to help our tired bodies. We poured ourselves into the AlItalia plane seats, had a glass of blood orange juice and one hour later woke up in Palermo!

Stay tuned for more on our arrival in Palermo and a terrific tour guide we hired to show us the culture and flavor of Palermo

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