3 weeks in Sicily

Old Oct 14th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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3 weeks in Sicily

Next October 2015, my wife and I are planning to spend 3 weeks in Sicily. We have travel through much of Italy and just want to see what Sicily is like. We want to stay in interesting towns/cities and are open to traveling through out Sicily, but not adverse to staying in one to three areas if it seems right. With this vague plan, can you advise: "if you had 3 weeks in Sicily for your first visit"
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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You can't cover the entire island from one location so will need at least three different hotels, perhaps four if you visit the Aeolian Islands.

Everything I saw on Sicily was interesting. Definitely spend several days in Palermo as there is lots to see there. Visit Palermo first or last and rent a car in between.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 01:04 PM
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We did not have as much time as you did, but my trip report might still be relevant aside from the included medical interruption; click on my name to find it.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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John

I really loved Sicily and I was there for 3 weeks in mid April 2013. Click on my Me for my report . The only t weeks I would have made after the fact:
Because it was off season for Scopello I would have hike Lo Zinger as a day trip from Erice. Scopello was really shut down mid April.

Would have stayed 2 nights at La Foerster because it was SO nice.

Would have skipped T aormina . Not my kind of place.

Write back with questions. Sicily is wonderful.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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It really does depend on your interests, and October typically means generally nice weather all over Sicily, so hard to narrow it down. Sicily is more like a small country than a region of Italy, so hard to know which experiences you favor.

But unless you are absolutely allergic to Italian cities, then I would suggest allotting a full week or something very close to it for Palermo alone, which would include visiting Monreale in the suburbs and possibly a day trip by train to Cefalu. It is best not to have a car in Palermo, so plan to visit it at the beginning or end of your 3 week stay.

As for the rest, not much else you can do but get a guidebook and see what attracts you. For my first visit to Sicily, I was advised to spend days and nights in Taormina. For many people, that would have been perfect advice, but I ended up wishing I had spent the time on farms in Sicily and limited Taormina to a half-day trip. Almost everybody comes back from Sicily thinking a few more days here or there or less someplace else would have suited them more, so it is just hard to give advice.

Apart from the week I stayed in Palermo, I more or less road tripped through Sicily, with a few nights here and a few nights there. Picking 2 other "bases" and commuting back and forth by car for day trips would not have worked for me, but some people refuse to travel any other way.
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 03:32 PM
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One more thought:

You might get answers more tailored to your interests if you revealed what you most enjoyed in your previous travels in Italy. If church art or mosaics are higher on your list than ancient sites (or vice versa), that's a clue. Sicily also has natural wonders and scenery -- or historic markets and wineries (and some high end shopping in Palermo).
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 03:59 PM
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Three weeks is perfect for Sicily IMO, and what a wonderful destination it is!

Sicily offers a LOT, so you'll need to review your options and decide what you most want to see and experience. FWIW, of approximately half-dozen guidebooks I used when planning my time in Sicily, I found The Rough Guide the most useful.

And I agree with adrienne -- you will need at least 3 bases, 4 if you decide to visit the Aeolians.

Enjoy!
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Old Oct 14th, 2014, 04:05 PM
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I agree that having 3 weeks is a blessing---we had 15 days and had to miss the Aeolian islands. Click on my name above to find my trip report. Here are the images:

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...y.php?cat=3828
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 11:04 AM
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HI Adrienne, Michael, Dayle, Sandralist, Kja and bobthenavigator,

I wanted to update you with our planning. Here what I am thinking of at this point:
Three bases to operate out of: (1) Palermo: spending 2/3 days, and than doing day trips to such cities as: Trapani, Erice, Monreale, Marsala, Mazara del Vallo, Sciacca, Cefalu. We would stay in Palermo for a total of 8 days. We would than travel to (2) Siracusa: spending 1 day, and than doing day trips to such cities as: Caltagirone, Ragusa, Modica, Noto, Marzamemi, Sicicli. We would stay in Sirausa for a total of four days. From there we would travel to (3) Catania: spending on day visiting Catania with day trips to such cities as Milazzo, Messina, Taormina, Acireale, Enna, Agira and Piazza Amerina. We would stay 5 days in Catania. From Catania we would travel to the Aeolians Island to stay 3 days in Lipari and returning to our home in Portland traveling through Naples.

Guys, I realize we have way too many cities to visit, so I would appreciate it if you could give us any hints on most worthwhile. Additionally, have I looped the cities/towns base suited to visit from our base? Also, would the order of our base cities be best or should be go to Catania before Siracusa? Did we select three good base cities to operate from? Lastly, does 3 days in Lipari to end our Sicily trip make sense to you? It total we are planning 22 days, considering flying time. Thanks for any input.

John
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 04:48 PM
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Hi John,

Your plans so far prompt me to start discussing travel styles, etc.

On my own trips to France and Italy (and that's all I've had), I've discovered I like a mix of the cities and very small towns/villages/scenery. My last two trips to Italy and Sicily have been solo so I have been able to do exactly as I please - and I loved it!

Bob, kja and myself have all done trip reports and you don't say if you have read them and whether or not they were helpful in your latest plans. Bob and kja's reports inspired my own trip, along with thursdayd and Leely2 and others. Reading the trip reports is invaluable to me. It really gives me ideas about what I would or would not like.

Based on my own trip, I didn't feel Sicily really works well with the limited "base and day trips" style. Maybe that's just my own preference - bases are great if they work overall for day trips - in my definition about 1.5 hours drive one way to the day trip destination. Other than that, I would really just prefer to move on and not backtrack multiple days. Why?

I never totally unpack anywhere, even if staying for 5 nts like I did on Lipari. I just take out what I think I will wear and that's it. (Yes, in spite of my name I am female, and still a light and quick packer). That said, I still like to allow time for leisurely lunches and dinners, or sitting on the terrace enjoying the view.

I also have found that I tend to enjoy most the places I stay, rather than just visit for a couple hours.

I did move around more than I would have preferred on my trip, but given time available and what I wanted to see, it worked for me. There is very little I would have changed.

You don't say if you are going to rent a car. You should in order to maximize your sightseeing outside the major cities. I also think you would really enjoy staying in some of the smaller places mentioned. It's actually easier to stay in the smaller towns/countryside and do daytrips, than to stay in the major cities and have to travel longer distances using public trans, and work around those schedules!

I definitely would not stay in Palermo for a full 8 days when you want to visit Erice, Trapani, Marsala (and I hope Segesta). Go stay in Erice or Trapani and enjoy!

I chose to skip Cefalu since I planned on 5 days in the Aeolians.
I could have skipped Taormina and would have loved to have had that extra day at La Foresteria Planeta Estate in Menfi (lodging for visiting Selinute), just because it was SO nice. Other than that, I would not have changed anything else except the bad lodging choice in Agrigento, and that could not have been foreseen. It got good reviews and the location was very convenient. I survived the 1 nt. stay.

You have time to move around just a tiny bit more and I think if you add just 1 or 2 more "bases" you will enjoy the variety!

Buon viaggio!
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Old Nov 20th, 2014, 04:58 PM
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It really depends on what YOU want to see and do, but FWIW, here on some observations:

I wish I had given Palermo more than the 2.5 days I gave it, and if you might have jet lag when you get there, that's something to keep in mind.

I gave Siracusa itself about 2.5 days, which felt about right for my very intense travel style (up in time for morning sightseeing, on the move until everything is closed, then relax over dinner). If you prefer a more leisurely style, or even want time to each lunch ;-) , you might want to give it more time! Or not -- again, it really depends on your priorities.

No time in Agrigento, Segesta, or Selinunte? Oh my! Your choice entirely, but I thought them among the highlights of my time in Sicily.

I can't comment on many of the places you have listed, as my time in Sicily was regrettably short, but again, FWIW:

I think Caltagirone is a tough call -- La Scala is quite lovely, as are some of the other ceramics around town (e.g., the cathedral, a bridge...). I spent a night there because it worked for my schedule; I think a few hours there would serve most people very well unless they have a very serious, very specific interest in ceramics.

Enna is another place I spent a night because it was convenient for me. The views were spectacular, but I'm not sure I would make it a priority. BTW, I didn't make it to Erice, but think I had read that it would make sense to visit one OR the other. I could be mistaken.

I loved Noto. If you go, try to stay as late as you can to see it as the light changes and the daytrippers leave.

As for the Aeolians: Do you want some serious downtime? Time to for long hikes? I wasn't seeking either, and so spent only a few (very enjoyable) hours on Lipari. Since that's all the time I spent there, I can't tell you what I missed. ;-)

BTW, I assume from your plan that you are planning to rent a car. IME, having a car will NOT serve you well IN Palermo or Siracusa. Try to find ways to minimize your time with a rental to non-city times.

Also, I took the ferry from Lipari to Naples and found it a very enjoyable way to travel. The merits might depend on time of year, and hence where you do / don't have light.

Hope that helps!
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 10:46 AM
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Hi Kja

Thanks for this great input; much appreciated.

What do you think of our three base cities in Sicily? I tried to select based on location to see other areas as well as great cities in and of themselves.

Any suggestions on possible hotels in any of these cities? I would like to get something in mid range ($125 - $175), and if possible a seaside view.

Thanks again

John
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 10:56 AM
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Hi Dayle,

I do apologize in not mentioning the value of the trip reports from you, kja and Bob. All were (and are) very helpful. A lot to take in and as we are still in the formulation stage, I did not include anything specific from those reports that we will probably include, but I am sure we will. Thanks again.

Your input on trying to pull too much off from one base city is well received. As I am sure you were, we are a bit torn between wanting to see all of the interesting sites, while balancing relaxation and enjoying the specific area. I do know that based on your and other input, we will expand our time in Palermo.

Thanks again.

John
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 11:46 AM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=sege...w=1455&bih=977

What no day trip from Palermo to Segesta and its great Greek temple complex in a stark rural setting?

Can be easily incorporated into a day trip you already outlined.
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 12:44 PM
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Five days seems like a lot for Catania. Admittedly I only spent a couple of hours there, but I don't remember amyone else being thrilled by it, whereas Ortigia always gets raves. I am a big fan of Trapani and Erice too. I don't think Sicily is a good destintion for hub and spoke type travel, there is so much to see, and it is all spread out. You can click on my name for my TR, although it is a bit dated. (Time to go back....)
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 01:46 PM
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a great day out from Catania goes either around Mt Etna by train - CircumEtna I think the line is called - I took the whole loop, getting off at Randazzo - a neat regional town - you pass lava fields which at times block the tracks.

And ascending Mt Etna itself to peer into the crater is another great day trip - you can ascend it from Philosopher's Tower by cable way and then 4-wheel drives I believe - but really close to Catania, a town I though was much nicer than gritty Palermo - a really nice un-touristed large city - pleasant if you like the offerings of a large city.

Taorima would be a nice day trip from Catania as well.
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 02:14 PM
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I was there for 3 weeks in September/October this year. See my trip report Revisiting Sicily.
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 02:57 PM
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ttt to help my trip planning too. Thanks, folks.
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 03:09 PM
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I've been to Sicily a few times, including a three-week trip solely to the Aeolian Islands in September 2011. Fabulous! Click on my name for my trip reports.

Three weeks is a good chunk of time, and I think you've chosen a couple of good bases (Palermo and Siracusa/Ortygia). Though I enjoyed our couple of days in less touristed Catania, I would personally not use that city as a base--too hectic to get in and out of on a daily basis. You could base instead in a smaller town north of Catania--on one trip we based in Aci Castello, between Catania and Acireale, which was a lot of fun. Easy access to Mt Etna and Taormina, too.

I would not do a daytrip to Milazzo--the only reason, in my opinion, to visit that town is that it's the best place to catch a hydrofoil or ferry to the Aeolis. On one trip I spent 2 nights in Milazzo while waiting for the weather to improve so the boats could run to Lipari. Nice little town but not much of interest there. I kind of feel the same about Messina, which is much bigger but still not where I would devote a day unless something particular calls you there. (I stayed overnight there, too.)

Based on my own experience and stories I have heard from others, I suggest NOT leaving the Aeolies to the end of your trip because you will be at the mercy of the weather for getting on (and, more important, off) the islands. If storms come up you might well be stuck for a day or more, and if you have a plane to catch in Naples you'll be in a pickle, unless you are building in some extra time for Naples. Better, I think, to put your Aeolian adventure midway, say, after you leave Palermo. I'm pretty sure the boats stop running from Palermo to Lipari in September, but if not you could do that route. Or you can take the train to Milazzo from Palermo (about 2 hours) and take the boat from there. Milazzo is not that far beyond Cefalu, so you could even travel to Cefalu for the day and then go on to Milazzo for the night before moving on to the Aeolies. After the Aeolies you could train to Siracusa and end the trip in the Catania area, flying home from there (through Naples if need be). Some ideas, anyway.
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Old Nov 21st, 2014, 04:18 PM
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For bases, I vote yes for Palermo and Ortygia, but as thursdaysd noted, isn't a great place for hub-and-spoke travel. I can't comment on Catania; I skipped it. My impression from reading a LOT of posts on Sicily is that those who do try to use bases are most likely to use Palermo, Agrigento, and either Ortygia or Taormina.

In Ortygia, I was very pleased with my stay in L'Approdo delle Sirene:
http://www.apprododellesirene.com
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