3 weeks in Sicily itinerary

Old Dec 26th, 2015, 02:43 PM
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3 weeks in Sicily itinerary

After much deliberation, we decided not to include Naples in our 2016 visit to Sicily because we would do either one or the other an injustice by cutting our time there short.
We have travelled to Rome several times and also visited Orvieto and Tivoli. Florence, Venice, Pisa, Genova, CT, Padua, the three lakes, Verona, Vicenza and Milan, Siena Assisi, Capri, Amalfi and Paestum have also been visited on previous trips. We are not beach people and do not wish to spend long hours on the beach. DH has a penchant for bookshops and has to stop at each and every one even if he does not purchase anything. I am a jewellery crafter and so am on a look out for unusual components (was thoroughly disappointed in Venice at the plethora of Chinese made articles being sold as being made in Venice and Murano).

Our current itinerary (not yet fixed in concrete - but the flight in and out will be booked in two days) is:

5/4/2016 Melbourne – Rome via Dubai or Abu Dhabi (21+ hours)
6/4 - Rome (3 hour lay over) – Palermo (via Alitalia).
7/4 - Palermo (getting over jet lag)
8/4 - Palermo - Bagheria (Villa Palagonia) and Cefalu (by train) - Palermo
9/4 - Palermo
10/4 - Palermo
11/4 - Palermo - Monreale- Palermo
12/4 - Palermo - Trapani (by bus)
13/4- Trapani - Erice and Segesta (by funicular and/or bus).
14/4 - Trapani(collect AutoEurope car(either Fiat 500X or Alpha Giuletta) from airport) - Marsala-
Salt flats -Selinute – Agrigento
15/4- Agrigento - Valle dei Templi
16/4 –Agrigento- Enna- Piazza Armerina- Caltagirone
17/4 – Caltagirone - Ragusa Ilba
18/4 – Ragusa Ilba- Modica- Sicili -Noto
19/4 – Noto -
20/4 – Noto - Syracuse (Ortigia)
21/4 – -Syracuse/Ortigia
22/4 - Ortigia
23/4 – Ortigia - Catania (return car at airport and take taxi into town)
24/4 - Catania –
25/4 - Catania - Mt Etna – tour
25/4 - Catania - Taormina (Liberation Day – holiday)
26/4 - Taormina/Messina/Milazzo –(by train?) - Hydrofoil to Lipari
27/4 - Lipari
28/4 – Lipari – (Volcano) – Lipari
29/4 - Lipari - Stromboli (walk partway up the volcano or boat trip (evening only) if volcano is erupting)
30/4 - Stromboli –Palermo (Hydrofoil) – Rome (plane)?
1/5 - Rome (stay near Villa Borghese) Baptist Church service (May Day holiday)
2/5 - Rome – Villa Borghese
3/5 - Rome – Trinita Dei Monti convent frescoes and sundial. Afternoon - Spanish Steps area
4/5 – Rome – Colloseum – Underground Tour
5/5 – Rome - Ostia Antica
6/5 – Rome
7/5 – Rome
8/5 – Rome
9/5 – Rome
10-5 – Rome - Melbourne
Questions in the next post.
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Old Dec 26th, 2015, 03:00 PM
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Now for the questions:
As you will see we have several days up our sleeve in Rome and so can add a few days to Sicily, eg in Agrigento or Ragusa Ilba. The activities on 3/5 are locked in.

1. Travel by train first to Bagheri and then to Cefalu - perhaps staying for an early dinner before returning to Palermo or visit Cefalu first and the Bagheria and return to Palermo? Recent information suggests that Vila Palagonia is located far from the station and in an unsavoury area. Any comments would be appreciated.

2. We do not want a car in Palermo, so will travel to Trapani by bus then hire a car at Trapani for 10-11 days.

3. Currently investigating AutoEurope for car hire. My husband is 6ft 3in and unlikely to be able to fit into a Punta/Panda or Fiat 500. Flight Centre suggested an Alpha Romeo at a very high price and the insurance component is difficult to understand, so no decision yet. Checking with AutoEurope Australia direct re type of car and insurance required.

3. It has been suggested that the Agrigento - Enna - Piazza Aramina leg is more than sufficient to travel in one day. So the plan is to stop in Caltagirone or somewhere else. Any suggestions? Our budget is not huge and so around E80 - E100 a night.

4. We understand it is difficult and expensive to have a car in Catania so we intend to return the car in Catania and take a tour of Etna. Once upon a time the goal was to climb Etna, but though the spirit is willing, the body does not have quite enough umph any more. A half day tour has been suggested to us.

5. Travel to Taormina by train or bus (which is better? Can we take our cases and carryon luggage on the bus?) As this falls on Liberation Day, what delays or exciting events can we expect?

6. Taormina to Messina to Milazzo (in one day day? Bus or train?) Take a late hydrofoil to Lipari or stay overnight in Milazzo and take an early ferry to Lipari?

7. Again we wanted to climb Stromboli but were put off by the probable gasses and the slippery and potentially dangerous for us, return down the hill in the dark. Will go to the restaurant limit and would like to take a night boat trip (provided Stromboli is erupting and there is more to see than just a glow). As yet I have not found a night boat trip without several hours spent previously on the water- snorkling. I don't snorkel and cannot think of anything more boring that just sitting on a boat for several hours in the hot sun in the middle of the ocean.

8. We have several days up our sleeve in Rome and take a day or two from there to add to somewhere in Sicily.

9. We have visited Rome on previous occasions and have seen most of the sights except Trastvere and that will await the next trip. We have visited Orvieto and Tivoli but are looking for some other day trips from Rome.

10 We are not beach people so while an early morning or evening walk along the beach will probably occur, we would not be sunbathing on the beach.

11. We would like to stay in the Kalsa or Albergheria area of Palermo and are currently looking at an apartment through AirBnB.


Eagerly comments and suggestions and also awaiting bob the navigator and Michael's comments as well as anyone who has recently been to Sicily or who has undertaken a similar trip.

Many thanks in advance.
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Old Dec 26th, 2015, 08:33 PM
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Hi Rasputin,

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Have you asked AutoEurope about picking up in downtown Trapani rather than the airport? If you are staying in Trapani anyway, this might save you some time. I used Autoeurope to pickup in Trapani at a Hertz location which was actually part of a new car dealership (at least as it appeared to me). I reserved an economy (solo traveler) and as expected was "upgraded" to a compact. Spotless new car with a covered hatchback. Very reasonable cost. Super service.

Your car pick up day traveling to stay in Agrigento is FAR to busy. You will need to be very speedy sightseers or be flexible in dropping the salt pans or Marsala. Definitely don't drop Selinute.

Same goes for your day driving from Catalgrione to Noto. No need to see ALL the Baroque towns. Pick one or two and enjoy! Also no need to stay in 2 of them unless you really, really want to. They are close enough that there is no real need to change hotels.

I do think you will have a hard time finding a boat excursion for nighttime Stromboli viewing only. Perhaps your hotel on Stromboli can help with the name of a local company.

Not at all sure you can get a hydrofoil straight from Stromboli to Palermo. Most likely the service will be stopping at 1 or 2 additional islands on the route so plan for that time.

You might contact Christian at New Life Services for info on the nighttime Stromboli tour and a possible private driver for your Taormina to Milazzo to Lipari day. I used his services and would highly recommend his company. No, I would not stay overnight in Milazzo, go straight to Lipari.

Add a couple days to Sicily. You will not be sorry!

Buon viaggio!

You seem to be doing a counterclockwise trip very much like mine, so if you haven't already read my TR from 2013, just click on my name. If I can answer any questions, I'll be happy to help as much as possible.
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Old Dec 26th, 2015, 09:01 PM
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Should be wonderful!

A few comments:

I could be wrong, but think 14/4 is too busy. You might be able to see Marsala OR the salt flats before Selinunte, but I'm not sure you can do both. And if you want to stop for a lunch -- especially a leisurely one -- than you might have time for just Selinunte that day before reaching Agrigento in time for dinner.

I think 16/4 is too busy, too, but it depends on what you want to do. If you leave Agrigento early, stop in Enna just for a nice lunch and QUICK peek around, you can probably still reach the Villa Romana del Casale in time to see it and make it to Caltagirone for dinner and a stroll.

I agree with Dayle that you might not miss much by cutting a bit of time from the Baroque towns. I loved Noto -- I spend a night and the better part of a day there. Generally less than enamored of Baroque, I skipped Modica and Ragusa.

I'd want just a bit more time in Ortygia than you are giving it. YMMV.

Re: Etna -- I did a full day tour from Taormina that also included the Gole Alcantara; I was pleased with that tour.

"Taormina to Messina to Milazzo (in one day day? Bus or train?) Take a late hydrofoil to Lipari" -- definitely possible. I took a taxi from my hotel in Taormina to the train station below town; train to Messina; bus to Milazzo; hydrofoil to Lipari -- and got there during the lunch hour.

"We would like to stay in the Kalsa or Albergheria area of Palermo." It's been a long while since I was there, and things could have changed a lot, but I would not have stayed in the Kalsa back in 2007.

Re: Stromboli -- remember that it does not "perform" every night.

I know you said you decided against Naples for this trip, but FWIW, I took the overnight ferry from Lipari to Naples, and of course you could easily take a train from Naples to Rome. Since that would save you the time for backtracking, and since you've already been to Rome, it might be something to consider. Naples is such a fabulous city! IMO.

Hope that helps!
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 05:43 AM
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You have too much in 16/4. Also, Piazza Armerina is nice in its own right. You have too much on 14/4.

You may want another day in Ortygia.

I know all of us are different, but what will happen with this very carefully laid out itinerary if it rains or if you aren't feeling well one day or you just want to have a lazy morning? This is Italy, after all, and you may want to think about adjusting to its more leisurely pace.

I suspect you have already read these, but Dayle had a trip report from not too long ago, and I just wrote a very lengthy trip report on our 3 week trip this past October.
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 08:42 AM
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It would make more sense to me to rent a car as you leave Palermo (at the airport) and stop at Segesta (a don't-miss) on your way to Trapani. Are you worried about parking in Trapani?

Leaving Lipari and flying out of Palermo the same day is taking a chance. In Italy I always want to be in my departure city the night before a flight. What if the boat has engine trouble or the weather's bad?

Personally I'd skip Catania and not go to every Sicilian Baroque town. And I agree with julies, a little ease in your schedule is more practical and apropos in Sicily. But this again is a personal preference.

I envy your being in Sicily in the spring. The wildflowers are supposed to be lovely. Enjoy!
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 07:23 PM
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Thanks Jules and Mimar.
I have just finished reading Dayle's report and have loads of questions for her. I like the idea of returning to Milazzo and taking the train back to Palermo. No I have not seen your report so will go and find it now.

Mimar perhaps you are right. Maybe we should think of picking up the car right at the airport in Palermo and driving straight to Segesta and Trapani. Staying in Palermo as Dayle did on the way back.
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 07:33 PM
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?
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 07:38 PM
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Maybe you didn't notice my detailed response?
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Thanks Dayle and kja too. Fodors does not seem to send a note when replies are received so I have to go looking for them. Missed it when I opened Jules response.

Dayle I did think of collecting a rental car from Trapani town centre but when I typed in Trapani in AutoEurope all I got was the airport centre. Will check with them tomorrow when I call the Australian office to discuss the type of car and rental costs.

I remember when originally planning the Aeolian trip that there were some not so happy comments about Da Massimo who I remember is also related to Diana Brown. Similarly not so happy comments about that B & B and so have been wary of booking anything with those two enterprises. Yes, I would not be interested in spending 6.5 hours on Stromboli However, it seems that is the only way to see the eruptions as the other islands are too far away to see anything. Our original itinerary was to stay on Stromboli - but luckily I decided that 48 hours on Stromboli was too long if you were not a hiker or a diver.

Dale I fully concur with your comments about the poorly kept animals. If you ever decide to go to India you will have much the same scene - probably worse. I just returned from a five week trip there and where I was staying in Delhi there was a large park where several stray dogs lived. One gaunt mother had 11 pups. I used to buy dog food and bread and feed them. I had to go to Dehradun for a few days and when I returned the pups were dying off. Every day there was one or two less and I could identify those who were not going to be there the next day. The attitude of the Indians who used the park was less than desired. I have told my friends that the Enola Gaye was ahead of its time and its trajectory wrong!

Dayle I will be printing our your report and will get back to you with loads of questions which occurred to me while I was reading it. It did answer many others for which I am grateful eg parking in some places.

kja are you suggesting staying in an agriturismo somewhere between Siluente and Agrigento and perhaps not staying in Ragusa at all but in Noto (although I am having difficulty finding accommodation there). Perhaps I should leave Enna off the circuit and see it on a day trip from Catania - I think it is on the train line from there?

Mirmar - no just thought it through - can't pickup the car in Palermo - we will have been awake for some 30 hours - not good to be getting into a car and driving on unknown roads and yet if we follow Dayle's plan and stay in Palermo at the end, we will have to waste one day getting over jet lag on landing in Palermo. Thinking thinking.
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 08:17 PM
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"Fodors does not seem to send a note when replies are received so I have to go looking for them."

Right -- as clearly stated when you sign up.

"kja are you suggesting staying in an agriturismo somewhere between Siluente and Agrigento"

I have never suggested an agriturismo ANYwhere. If you want to stay in one, go for it. They aren't for me; I understand that they work for many.

What I said was that I didn't think you had enough time for the day that included both Selinunte and Agrigento.

"kja are you suggesting ... perhaps not staying in Ragusa at all but in Noto."

Yes.

" Perhaps I should leave Enna off the circuit and see it on a day trip from Catania"

Perhaps -- but it depends on WHY you want to stop in Enna.
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Old Dec 27th, 2015, 08:49 PM
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Hi Rasputin

I will be driving all day tomorrow back home after a holiday visit. Ill have time to answer questions over the New Year's weekend. Until then happy planning.
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Old Dec 28th, 2015, 09:34 PM
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"kja are you suggesting staying in an agriturismo somewhere between Siluente and Agrigento"

Sorry if I wasn’t clear (and sorry, too, for being a bit abrupt yesterday) – I think you have several options for managing the difficulties of trying to fit so much into day 14/4: You could skip Marsala, the salt flats, for both. You could add a day to Trapani to ensure sufficient time for those sites. You could skip lunch, which might give you time for Marsala OR the salt flats (but probably not both) and still leave enough time for Selinunte and arrival in Agrigento before nightfall. Or, yes, you could stay in an agriturismo after your visit to Selinunte. If you do stay in an agriturismo after visiting Selinunte, you may want to leave it early enough the next day to reach Agrigento as close to the time the Valley of the Temples opens, so you are sure to have enough time there -- either that, or extend your time in Agrigento.
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Old Dec 29th, 2015, 11:57 AM
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Hi kja
After reading your comments, I see that Trapani to Agrigento is too long. Picnic lunch purchased either in Trapani or Marsala along the way. So taking that into consideration we will break journey at Selinute or somewhere after it. As my DH says he would like a view of the ruins, I have tentatively chosen a B & B Terrazzo di Venere Via Sirio, 91022 Marinella di Selinunte which claims to have views of the ruins and gets reasonable reviews. Also keeping an eye out for an agriturismo after Selinute if the B &B does not work out - ofcourse it would not have view of the ruins. All of this hinges somewhat on getting the connecting bus from Palermo airport to Trapani - there is only one bus at 13.40 and another quite late in the night. So still confirming Ethihad tickets and hoping all of that will fall into place and I can start booking accommodation.

We will also be rethinking the route from Agrigento to Pizza Aremina. Dayle' Tom Tom wanted to take her on a scenic route not the quickest. So will be armed with maps if ours tries to do the same. Dayle, did you have to specifically purchase Sicily maps for your Tom Tom? I have yet to investigate that. Will stay somewhere between PA and Ragusa for the return journey.

Thank you for your comments.
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Old Dec 29th, 2015, 01:47 PM
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Rasputin1, we had an agreeable stay at the Villa Sogno near Selinunte in 2010. Overlooking an olive grove, the VS was well tended by its owners, and we particularly enjoyed Cinzia's homemade yogurt and baked goods for breakfast.
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Old Dec 29th, 2015, 03:43 PM
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"we will break journey at Selinute or somewhere after it"

I think that will make for a much more manageable day. Now you just need to make sure you have enough time in Agrigento.... ;-)
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Old Dec 30th, 2015, 08:39 AM
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Hi Rasputin,

I wrote a long reply yesterday and for some reason it did't post. Is everyone having problems with the site these days? I find it extremely sloooowww.

Anyway, if you do decide to stay between Selunite and Agrigento, I highly recommend La Foresteria Planeta Estate. It's just about 25 minutes scenic drive heading east from Selinute. Very, very nice. Some other Fodorites have stayed there since and seemed to love it as much as I did!

Fire away with the questions. I'm excited to help in any way possible. Wish I was going again.
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Old Dec 30th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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Another thought: We did not stay in any agriturismos because for us they felt too isolated, and we prefer the opportunity to have some dinner choices in a town. This is a personal decision, and only you know your style and preferences.
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Old Dec 30th, 2015, 11:09 AM
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@ Dayle -- yes, we're all having trouble with posts that won't post. I've generally managed to eliminate the problem elements by pasting back and forth from a word document until I find the section(s) that won't post and change them; others haven't had similar success. It is a serious pain and has been going on for months; feel free to add your voice to those who are demanding a solution! Here's one of the threads on it:
http://www.fodors.com/community/foru...rope-forum.cfm
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Old Dec 30th, 2015, 12:18 PM
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Rasputin--

Concur with Mimar re picking the car up on way out of Palermo. Segesta is easier to see that way. I'd stay in Palermo at first, then pick up the car. We picked one up a few blocks from our hotel near the port so we didn't have to go back to the airport.

Concur with spending a nite near Selinunte --it's a huge site: we did what you are trying to do (Trapani to Agrigento in one day) and wish we had spent more time.

We felt like one day in Agrigento itself was plenty. We drove from Agrigento via Piazza Armerina to Siracusa in one day and it was plenty of time. We also stopped at Morgantina which is a really great (and little known) archaeological site nearby. I was the only tourist at Morgantina the day I was there (early afternoon).

Also, concur with kja's suggestion of taking the overnite ferry from Palermo to Naples. It is a very special experience--travelling by water between two of the most historic ports in the world. We love Naples and anytime you could spend there would be worthwhile. So train or hydrofoil to Palermo for the ferry, which leaves late in the afternoon, I believe. On our trip that included Sicily, we first spent a few days in Naples staying in Pozzuoli, and then decided to return to Pozzuoli after Sicily instead of going elsewhere.
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