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ieivan01 Jun 2nd, 2014 12:46 PM

7 days in Sicily, Itinerary Help

My husband & I are planning a 7 day trip to Sicily. We are flying in & out of Catania. We are interested in exploring local culture, good beaches, and great food & wine.
I have read a lot of forums & based on our limited time in Sicily, have decided to concentrate our travels on the eastern part of the country.

We are interested in exploring Taormina, Catania, Siracusa, Ragusa-Modica. How would you break up our trip, especially if we wanted to spend a couple of days on the beach?
Where should we stay & for how many nights?

We will also be getting a car. When and where should we get it?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Steve_James Jun 4th, 2014 07:05 AM


Dayle Jun 4th, 2014 05:32 PM

Since this is a very short trip, it makes a big different if your 7 days include/exclude travel days. Do you have 7 full days in Sicily or just 5?

sandralist Jun 4th, 2014 11:46 PM

I don't think your plans are ambitious at all. Given the way you state your interests, I doubt you will want to linger in Catania, and while the historic Greek theater in Taormina and the views are spectacular, there is almost no "local" culture left in tiny Taormina. It is entirely overwhelmed by cruise ships, disgorging thousands. You might consider picking a beach near there and visiting Taormina in the later part of the day, when the cruise shippers have left.

I would head to the Siracusa area first. I would probably stay in an agriturismo that was convenient to both Siracusa/Ortygia and Modica/Ragusa, but you might prefer town stays. If you prefer town stays so you can enjoy the local culture and food in the evenings, and if you don't mind road tripping, that's how I would do it, changing hotels. Otherwise, do daytrips -- but be aware that Sicilian towns are dead, dead, dead during the middle of the afternoon. Plan to visit early-ish in the morning, or go for a late lunch and hang out until things start to open up again after 4 (or later in the summer).

Consider ending your trip with a beach stay somewhere closer to Taormina.

If you are arriving in Sicily jet lagged, better to take public transport your first day to the Siracusa area and rent the car the following days after you've gotten some sleep.

ieivan01 Jun 6th, 2014 05:54 AM

Thank you @sandralist for your feedback. @Dayle: we will have full 7 days in Sicily.

Where would you recommend we stay near a beach closer to Taormina?
Any other recommendations/tips?

Thank you once again.

ieivan01 Jun 6th, 2014 05:56 AM

Also, How would you recommend we break up our trip? (How many days/ nights in each city?)

kja Jun 6th, 2014 06:04 PM

"We are interested in exploring Taormina, Catania, Siracusa, Ragusa-Modica. How would you break up our trip, especially if we wanted to spend a couple of days on the beach?
Where should we stay & for how many nights?"

It really depends on your interests. I skipped Catania, Ragusa & Modica (although I loved Noto), and didn't spend any time on beaches. I thought the views from Taormina stunning and enjoyed roaming its back streets after day-trippers left, but otherwise I wasn't that taken by Taormina. Some people love it. I adored Siracusa (stay in Ortygia) and was glad to spend several days there.

You shouldn't have trouble finding good food and wine in Sicily!

Dayle Jun 6th, 2014 06:53 PM


Based on my personal preferences and the towns I visited last spring:

3 nts Ortigia - loved, loved this very atmospheric town, one of the most beautiful piazza I have seen in Italy, plenty to see and do, lots of visitors, but a very large percentage of them are Italians and the small island did not seem overwhelmed at all, even on the big May 1 holiday. Fabulous restaurants. I would love to return for a full week. There were things that I didn't have time for and I could definitely soak up more culture here...

2 nts - in the Baroque town of your choice. I chose Scicli, there were literally only 6 tourists in town, 1 British couple who were checking out as I came in, and 4 Italian women friends visiting from the mainland and me! 1 full day and 1 nt would have been enough, but I enjoyed my time and the passagiata on Sat and Sun eves with the local residents. The residents were super nice to me and curious about a solo female traveler. Very little English spoken if that matters to you. Also enjoyed the small but excellent Costume Museum and all the architecture. Had 2 wonderful dinners. Excellent Hotel Novocento!

Scicli is also quite near the Vendicari Nature Reserve. When I was there in early May, people were out sunning on a beach that I thought was beautiful. Loved seeing the flamingos which was my main reason for stopping there enroute to Ortigia.

The Donnafugata winery, one of the largest and best producers, is also very near Scicli, but it would not be a long drive from the other towns.

I didn't visit the other Baroque towns.

I visited Taormina and found it about as expected. Jam-packed with tourists, nice view from the theater, but the day I was there you could not see Etna due to grey skies. I actually had a better view of Etna from the train on the way to Taormina. I would not return. I saw what I needed in less than 24 hours and was eager to leave for the Aeolian Islands!

I would recommend 1 or 2 nts at an agritourismo or wine estate. I loved La Foresteria Planeta Estate****. It was the most expensive place I stayed on a trip of 3.5 weeks, and I would go back for a longer stay in a heartbeat! You might save that for another trip though since it is in Menfi near Selinute.

I also stayed at Il Gigliotto*** wine estate between Piazza Armerina (Villa Romana) and Catalgirone (ceramics). Beautiful views, and ancient buildings, comfortable rooms, so so traditional, multi-course dinner in their restaurant, but it was filled with locals.

I hope this helps. Everyone has different opinions and preferences.

You will love Sicily and return for a longer visit.

My trip report is here. Just click on my name.

Buon viaggio!

bobthenavigator Jun 7th, 2014 06:19 AM

We liked this Agriturismo near Siracusa for location and good food.

ieivan01 Jun 11th, 2014 06:27 AM

Thank you, everyone! This is really helpful!

TDudette Jun 11th, 2014 12:33 PM

When we were in Siracusa, someone suggested visiting Noto. We ran out of time but can anyone else say if it might be of interest to ieivan01? I saw that another poster loved it.

bobthenavigator Jun 11th, 2014 12:39 PM

Yes, my wife loved Noto. It is worth 3 or 4 hours.

sandralist Jun 11th, 2014 03:14 PM

When I was in Noto much of the historic center was under scaffolding, and was predicted to be that way for a very long time. I found Modica to be more enjoyable, partly because not only does it have plenty of baroque architecture but there is a lively, fully functioning Sicilian culture there that is largely off the tourist track. The elaborately baroque historic center of Noto is on display, but the life of the town is elsewhere.

Something to take into account regarding all Sicilian destinations is that the local culture goes into hiding between 1pm and 5pm. This doesn't matter for the big tourist attractions of antiquity, but if you are going to one of the baroque towns, they are more interesting when the locals are out and about, rather than in the middle of the day (which is unfortunately when most daytrips occur). It also doesn't matter if your main interest in seeing towns filled with lovely architecture is to take pictures of them without any people in the frame, but if you enjoy being part of the contemporary life of Sicily, it is something to bear in mind when planning a trip to Sicily (and many other places in Italy).

kja Jun 11th, 2014 04:47 PM

The scaffolding in Noto - which I loved -- had just been removed when I was there in 2007. Was additional scaffolding put in place after that?

kja Jun 11th, 2014 05:04 PM

(I loved Noto, not the scaffolding! ;-) )

sandralist Jun 12th, 2014 02:51 AM

kja, your information is more recent than mine so glad you posted it. When I visited, locals were so very pessimistic about being able to fully restore the collapsed areas, they were resigned to living with the scaffolding for years to come. But I see from this 2011 article that they achieved full success in the restoration. I doubt there is any new scaffolding to the extent it shrouded the town before.

ieivan01 Jun 20th, 2014 08:06 AM

Thank you all for your suggestions.

Based on your feedback, here's our proposed itinerary, please advise:

Arrival in Catania, car rental
Drive to Agrigento/ Valley of the temples
Stay over night

Valley of the temples/ Scala dei turchi
Evening: drive to Ragusa/Modica area (place to stay TBD)

Ragusa/Modica area (place to stay TBD)

Ragusa/Modica area
Drive to Syracuse in the evening (place to stay TBD)

Syracuse (place to stay TBD in Ortigia)



Depart to NYC

Another question: How much time should we allocate to see Agrigento/ Valley of the Temples and the Scala dei turchi in Realmonte? Will a day and a half be sufficient to enjoy these sites?

Thank you once again.

bon_voyage Jun 20th, 2014 09:23 AM

ieivan01, we very much enjoyed our stay at Casa Talía,, in Modica. It has a fabulous view of Modica Alta and, a big bonus, offers parking nearby. As sandralist wrote, Modica is lively town that artfully combines its tourist attractions with real life.
Ragusa Ibla is lovely but a bit of a stage set since most people live in the newer part of town. We saw it as a daytrip from Modica. It would also be easy to see Noto on your way to Siracusa. You can click on my name for my trip report.

kja Jun 20th, 2014 04:15 PM

"How much time should we allocate to see Agrigento/ Valley of the Temples" -- As I recall, I spent about 6 hours visiting the archeological site, another 1.5 or 2 hours visiting the excellent archeological museum, and an hour or so roaming the medieval core of Agrigento.

I loved the B&B at which I stayed in Ortygia -- the L'Approdo delle Sirene -- and it still seems to get great reviews:

Given that you will have a car, I think you have time to visit the Villa Romana del Casale, and I strongly urge that you consider doing so. It is, IMO, one of Sicily's most special highlights -- and I thought Sicily had a LOT of highlights! It would probably make sense to stop there on either your way to or from Agrigento.

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