10 days in Sicily

Feb 1st, 2011, 07:00 AM
  #1  
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10 days in Sicily

Hi everyone,

My husband and I and our two boys, ages 14 and 11, are travelling to Europe this summer. We will be spending 9 days in Prague and Vienna and are then flying to Sicily for 10 days.

We have done quite a bit of research but still do not know how to divide up orur time when we are in Sicily. We do not want to move from hotel to hotel and would like to have two "bases" from which to be able to explore. We realize that 10 days is not enough to see all of Sicily and we are ok with seeing the eastern and southeastern side of Sicily, with 4 or 5 nights in Taormina, from which we can take day trips to Mt. Etna, Siracusa and Enna.

We have thought about staying the other nights in Agrigento in the south or Cefalu in the north, but welcome other suggestions.

We would like to spend a few days at a beautiful beach and love spending time in places where there is a nightlife that allows us to walk during the evenings.

Thanks for all of your help.

Andrea
Andreaandfamily is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 07:43 AM
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Hi Andreaandfamily,
10 days in Sicily will be phenomenal and I couldn't agree more than picking one or two places to stay and taking day trips from there.
Taormina provides a great base for travelers who want to explore the area and stay in a town that offers endless opportunities for dining out and shopping. The area around Taormina also offers great experiences (such as Mt. Etna, Siracusa, and Enna), but also for fans of Baroque architecture. The Late Baroque Towns in the Val di Noto, including Noto, Ragusa and Catania (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1024) offers fanciful Baroque architecture that draws the beholder into the action, eliciting an emotional response from the viewer. Simply delightful!
Cefalu/Palermo are great places to stay, especially if you are interested in Norman architecture, history and mosaics. Palermo boasts four amazing mosaic sites: Cefalu Cathedral, Palatine Chapel, Martorana and Monreale Cathedral. Because mosaics are a part of a site’s architecture, they must be viewed in situ and cannot travel to museums, making seeing them unique to travelers.
Finally, spending some time in the south will certainly provide an opportunity to spend time on a beach, view the unique Scala dei Turchi, and visit the temples in Agrigento.
No matter what you choose, you will have a wonderful time.
Enjoy your trip!
Approach_Guides is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 07:56 AM
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Hi Approach,

Thanks so much for your response. Very interesting and passionate ideas.

Just one question......If you could pick one place to spend as the second base, where would it be?

Thanks

Andrea
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Feb 1st, 2011, 08:12 AM
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Hi Andrea,
For me (and my preferences may be different than your and your family), I would choose Palermo -- the art and architecture that you can find in that city is world-class totally unique to Sicily.
Hope that helps!
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Feb 1st, 2011, 09:39 AM
  #5  
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Thanks Approach......

If we wanted a a second choice, what would you suggest? (I hope I am not bothering you too much).

Andrea
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Feb 1st, 2011, 09:41 AM
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We spend 8 days traveling in Sicily, abbreviated by the Icelandic volcano and then a personal injury. But we saw most of what we wanted to see, although not always as thoroughly was we would have wished. You might be interested in my trip report; just click on my name to find it.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 09:48 AM
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Ten to twelve days is about "standard" for Sicily - at least based on trip reports here. You could search trip reports, you'll get quite a few and see whose trip you'd most like to replicate.

Most people do move around a bit though, as distances are longer than you may think so day trips will end up with a lot of driving back and forth. Maybe consider three bases at least - Palermo, Agrigento, Taromina.

Here's my report (but we did 6 different places in 11 days - I could see shortening it to four maybe, but for us anyway I'm glad we did what we did).

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-switz.cfm

Photos - http://www.pbase.com/annforcier/sicily_2005
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Feb 1st, 2011, 10:00 AM
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Hi Andrea,
You are not bothering me at all! Sicily happens to be one of my most favorite places, so I am happy to share.
My second choice would be staying near Agrigento, my third, Siracusa.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 10:31 AM
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While I really enjoyed my (brief) time in Taormina, I don't think I'd want to base there since it's geographically out of the way compared to some of the other locations you want to see. It will be a lot of time in the car with your kids just to get to other places each day. Ideally, a base somewhere closer to Catania would be nicely central for visits to Taormina, Mt. Etna and Siracusa...

Is your reason for steering away from Palermo due to a desire not to travel so far west in your 10 days? I didn't make it to the western side of Sicily, but it seems a lot of travelers do - and I'd love to go there on my next visit.

Lastly, what month will you be in Sicily? Will it be August, or earlier in the summer?
ggreen is offline  
Feb 1st, 2011, 10:49 AM
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Thanks everybody, your help is welcome and much appreciated.

We will be in Sicily from July 25th to August 5th. The reason we don't want to go to Palermo on this trip, although I'm sure it would be interesting, is that after seeing Prague and Vienna at the beginning of our trip, we wanted to spend time exploring small towns and rural areas.
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Feb 1st, 2011, 11:03 AM
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Oh, then you might want to look into staying at an agriturismo! I think Michael often suggests one he liked.

I understand wanting to "mix it up" on a vacation between cities and more rural areas. But maybe you could fly into Palermo, then head east, so you at least get to see some of its marvels...

Will you be returning home after your time in Sicily, or heading somewhere else in Europe? Where will you depart Sicily and/or Italy from? (That might help with your overall Sicily itinerary...)
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Feb 1st, 2011, 11:22 AM
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rex
 
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Your division of time is very, very good. And you're combining the(most notable) part of Sicily that we left out of our ten day trip - - with one of the three parts that we did try to sample: the north, the northeast/Palermo and the south/southwest.

I'm gonna vote for Cefalu, even though it is only a few hours stop on our trip. We based at Capo D'Orlando (you might also consider this as an alternative to Cefalu), and then subsequently at Palermo. As a result, I know the areas to the east of Cefalu, and to the west of Cefalu. I do think you will find enough to like about Cefalu that you will explore the town itself and its uplands for part of your stay there.

I don't think you need to feel bad about (mostly) glossing over Palermo. After all, you can still day trip to Palermo for at least one day (or you might make Monreale one day trip and some other highlights of the city a separate day trip).

Based in Cefalu and concentrating on its 100km radius attractions, I recommend at least day out to one or more of the Aeolian islands (Vulcano is the easy one for a single excursion - - but it is chiefly about the natural geology/geography... it's the sulfur mud baths, the <> you can readily find with your feet, swimming from the rocky beach, and you can hike up to the top of the Gran Cratere). You would need to get up early in the morning to get to Milazzo, and this will be a long day.

Even further to the east (you might xconsider this too far to the west) is Randazzo and the northwest side of Mt Etna which includes the Madonie mountains and the Madonie Natural Park. Very much different from anything you'll find along the coast.

A bit closer to Cefalu is Santo Stefano di Camastra, known for its many producers and vendors of boldly colorful ceramics. I think there is a small ceramic museum there, too. It might have been closed when we were there; this area observes afternoon ("siesta") closing almost everywhere. I think this little town has some sandy beachfront, but I know nothing about it. Of course, Cefalu has at least some good beachfront, if I am not mistaken.

But I wonder if you can get your "beach itch" scratched at Giardini Naxos (just below Taormina).

Best wishes,

Rex
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Feb 1st, 2011, 01:33 PM
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Click my name to see my trip report from 2005.
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 02:32 PM
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So doing it without a car for 10-12 days doesn't sound like an option?
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 03:09 PM
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kja
 
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> So doing it without a car for 10-12 days doesn't sound like an option?

I believe there are public transportation options for each of the destinations you mentioned. Type "Sicily public transportation" in the search box at the top of this page. You will probably find that postings by GAC are particularly helpful.
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 04:25 PM
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There's also some really good info on the tripadvisor Sicily forum.
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 05:11 PM
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To Rex-- Saw your mention of Capo D'Orlando above. What do you think of the town? I've been going to Italy practically every year for the past twenty years, and for some unexplained reason, I neglect going to Sicily and Capo D'Orlando. This is strange, because my grandparents came from there, and I have relatives there. I really can't put my finger on why I've never visited, but I feel sort of guilty for not doing so. My American wife and I visit her Italian brothers and sisters very frequently in Naples. I love Naples, warts and all, and I forego any trip to Capo D'Orlando. This year, I'm definitely gonna take that trip. Let me know your opinion of the town. Funny story-- A few years ago, we were in Sardinia, I was sitting on the beach with my wife and her sister, who owns a condo in Golfo Aranci. The women left the beach to prpare dinner, and I was lying alone on the sand. Behind me, a nice bunch of people were speaking and generally enjoying themselves. I sort of interrupted them, and asked where they were from, because they were speaking such beautiful Italian. They told me that they were from Milan, and I commented on their lovely speech. I speak fluent Italian, but with a noticeable Sicilian accent. One guy said that he knew I was Sicilian. I said "no I'm not". He insisted that I was Sicilian, because he was originally from there, and knew the accent. I told him to guess where I was from. He had no clue. When I told him I was American, he was floored. He said I had the absolutely perfect Sicilian accent. I told him of my grandparents having come from Capo D'Orlando, and that I was raised speaking the language. He said he WAS FROM CAPO D'ORLANDO! I told him I have relatives there, and he asked their names. HE WAS FRIENDS with them! I have never met my relatives, and here is a guy who knew them. I got the biggest chill up my spine! What a small world!
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Feb 3rd, 2011, 09:10 AM
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scrb11, there have been a number of posts here about seeing Sicily on public transportation, including one within the past month. Also look for thursdaysd's trip report from a few years ago; she also toured Sicily on public transit... So a search should bring up some useful info!
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Feb 5th, 2011, 08:04 AM
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WOW !!! You all have been so helpful and the other posts have been very informative....We are finalizing our plans now so we may have more questions for you all......

However, we are now planning the first part of our vacation, and we will be posting a few questions for Prague, Vienna and Salzburg....


Thanks again


Andrea
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Feb 5th, 2011, 08:52 AM
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If you are only going to do the eastern side, I would base yourself in Ortigia(old island city of Siracusa) and if you want a northern base,Toarmina even though I think that it is terribly touristy.This would give you a chance to bus or train to either city from Catania where you would probably fly into to.
Your kids will love Mt. Etna so be sure to get there tour company that can take you around in a 4 wheel drive to see everything. We have used Geoexplorers which use actual university geology students and it was great fun especially getting to walk into a lava cave!
I just did a 15 day self drive trip with my daughter in October who had studied in Sicily several years ago for her semester abroad and we still could have stayed another week.

Sicily is fabulous but remember if you are going in summer that it can get quite hot.I just saw when you are going and I would HIGHLY recommend to find places that have ceiling fans or A/C in your hotels- I had friends that went two years ago at the same time and it was extremely hot(and sometimes miserable) for what they wanted to see and do.Can I ask why you are adding Sicily on to a Prague/Vienna trip?
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