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Suggestions for Bari to Palermo driving itinerary

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Hello,

My wife and I are leaving for Italy next week and want to get some last minute suggestions on our itinerary. We are starting off with a few days in Dubrovnik and then taking the ferry to Bari. From Bari we will have a car rental for eight days before we drop off the car in Palermo.

We were considering driving west to Positano on the Amalfi coast for two nights but are trying to decide if it’s worth the extra five hours of driving. It seems like there are so many other beautiful places on the way to Siciliy that aren’t as touristy (or expensive).

We are trying to get a mix of culture, beaches (hopefully it’s warm), hiking, good food, good people, and relaxation by staying in some spots for at least two nights. We only know basic Italian phrases.

So far without Positano we are considering the following stops:

Matera
Crotone
Catanzara
Tropea
Taormina/Mt. Etna
Cefalù

Is it worth a day trip to Lipari or another island?

Any recommendations on food, lodging, or other towns to consider is much appreciated.

Thanks!

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