A Difficult Choice

Old Jul 23rd, 2021, 11:47 AM
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A Difficult Choice

Hi,

I am new to this forum and with travel opening up, I am excited about being able to travel this early September with my wife.

We are both in our late forties and have travelled quite a bit over the last few years, mainly in Europe, and we are wondering what you all think about our plans for a ten night trip to either:

a. Greece: Mykonos and Naxos
b. Italy: Southern Puglia (Otranto, Ostuni, Locorotondo, Polignano a Mare)
c. Sicily: South East Sicily (Ortigia, Noto, Taormina)

After the last year and a half, we both want to spend some of the time relaxing at beautiful beaches and at the hotel pool, but also mix in some culture as well, including good food, nice strolls in the evening in quaint, small towns and also spend some time exploring either the island or the region we are in by car.

Which would you choose?

Thank you very much.

Last edited by WorldsAway; Jul 23rd, 2021 at 12:30 PM.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2021, 01:18 PM
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I think any of those would be marvelous, but I would choose by the easiest travel. Covid issues will still be in play in September, plus I always go for the best airfare route that maximizes my time. The Greek option would require transit through Athens, losing at least a day if that matters. If you can fly into Bari or Brindisi, Puglia is a snap. Like wise Sicily, and you have selected wisely for a trip in which you will see only a portion of the large island.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2021, 06:08 PM
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If we weren't in the middle of a pandemic, I'd choose them in the order you have them listed - Greece first choice, then Puglia then Sicily. We've been to the Greek islands a few times and love it there but personally I wouldn't be visiting at the moment. Health facilities, if you should need them, are probably not what you are used to. Haven't visited Puglia but I'd like to. We thought Sicily was fine but wouldn't go back.

Yorkshire, above, has a good point about picking the easiest travel. It's not going to be like normal flights in a normal year. Also just remembered there is another thread on this forum and someone mentioned Mykonos is a COVID hotspot at present. That may change between now and September.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2021, 11:53 PM
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You wouldn’t necessarily lose a day in your transit through Athens, as there are several daily flights from there to Mykonos with Aegean Airlines and other carriers. You would need to leave 2-3 hours layover time, and the flight is only about 40 minutes. Mykonos isn’t my favourite island, and it will still be busy in early September. The island has a beautiful chora (main town), and is the best place from which to visit the wonderful archaeological site on the uninhabited island of Delos.

Naxos is completely different, so a good combination with glitzy Mykonos. As well as excellent beaches it has several small mountain villages. A driving trip around the interior will give you a glimpse of traditional island life.

Just a note on these two islands with regards to Covid-19: Mykonos currently has the highest Covid infection rate in all of Greece, with a rate of 2368 cases per 100,000, while the rate on Naxos is only 202.
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Old Jul 24th, 2021, 05:21 AM
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You have three of our favorite trips! Loved Polignano a Mare and used it as a base. Views of the Adriatic from our room at Covo de Saraceno Hotel.
Greece is one of our all time favorites too. Paros was our favorite island and we stayed in Naoussa. Napflion, Chania on Crete, both beautiful places with so much history.
Sicily! We spent a week on Ortigia Island and could have stayed longer. A wonderful 21/2 week trip. The only place we did not care for, too touristy and over run with cruise ship mobs, was Taormina.
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Old Jul 24th, 2021, 05:22 AM
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Do you plan to rent (hire) a car? They are apparently very expensive and hard to come by this year. The Greece itinerary does not require one at all, the other two are best/easiest done if you can drive.
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Old Jul 24th, 2021, 07:32 AM
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HappyTrvlr means Nafplio or Nafplion. http://www.visitnafplio.com/
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Old Jul 25th, 2021, 12:17 AM
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<<c. Sicily: South East Sicily (Ortigia, Noto, Taormina)>>

This is very similar to a trip we did 5 years ago and would be my choice, except that I might not spend too much time in Taormina, unless I could be assured that tourist numbers there have dropped somewhat from pre-covid levels. So much to see just in the area between Catania and the southern-most tip of Sicily, you hardly need to include Taormina unless you are desperate to see Etna.
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Old Jul 25th, 2021, 03:25 PM
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Yo OP WA, choices 'b' and also 'c' above each have contenders for 'Best Gelato on the Planet', so that'd eliminate the Greek option. In Noto, Costenzas is worth crossing an ocean for, as it slays its nearby Bourdain-endorsed competitor, and Polignano is one Italy's gelato centers to start with. The modern Bella Blu shop there (try their award-winning Torte Sorrento chewy lemon gelato) and the far more traditional Super Mago gelateria, provide a nice pair of choices. The latter is the only place in Puglia that we are aware of that still serves 'gelsi neri' (Mulberry ice granita).
Locorotondo has a HUGE weekly market and is worthy in and of itself. And some might prefer Gallipoli as somewhere to stay.

Agree with HT above that Taormina is not worthy. Ortigia is fantastic and Noto would give you the option of any number of great daytrips. Modica, Ragusa and those Roman mosaics (name of town forgotten) are all worth your consideration.
Shutterbugs like our Isabel here and ourselves, might argue for some different choices in Greece.
I hope that you two have a wonderful trip in September.
I am done. The end.
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Old Jul 26th, 2021, 09:07 AM
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Thank you so much everyone.

We are now leaning towards either South-East Sicily (Taormina free) or Puglia. In both cases, we would stay for six nights in a countryside resort near to nice towns and the sea. For the other four nights, we would want to stay in a town and use it also as a 2nd base to see the area.

Which town would you stay in for those four nights in either Sicily and Puglia?

Thanks
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Old Jul 26th, 2021, 10:44 AM
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in SE Sicily we spent 4 nights in Ortigia and absolutely loved it. i don't think we were alone in that. i wouldn't want to go to that area of Sicily and not stay there.

for your other base doubtless there will be various opinions. We stayed in Ragusa Ibla and it was a great place to be but very wearing to get to, being a long way up some very windy roads and therefore not a good touring base. Modica or Noto, or indeed Scicli might well be better.
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Old Jul 28th, 2021, 08:15 PM
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I have friends in Mykonos now, and they seem to be enjoying themselves. However, they are of Greek descent and speak Greek, go every year (except last year), and spend most of their time relaxing and eating out. The parties and live music aren't happening, but the outdoor restaurants are still open.

Mykonos will still get you the pool, the good food, and the beaches. However, I don't think it's the best choice for quiet strolls in the evening, or exploring quaint villages in the region. Mykonos is more about the fun ... so I do agree with everyone that the other choices are better at this time.
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Old Jul 29th, 2021, 07:53 AM
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Sicily-Ortigia
Puglia- Polignano a Mare, Monopoli or Lecce.
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Old Aug 11th, 2021, 08:43 AM
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Hi again,

We made a decision and we booked our flights to Brindisi and we will be in Puglia for ten nights. We think we would like to stay in two places, but we want both hotels/resorts to have pools, be close to (but not necessarily on) some beautiful beaches and also be in or close to beautiful towns like Ostuni, Lecce, Locorotondo and Otranto. We also want to know if it is worth staying further north near Polignano a Mare.

Also, any ideas for five star hotels/resorts we should stay at?

Thanks
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Old Aug 11th, 2021, 09:08 AM
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Just checking that you know 5star in Europe is very different concept to 5 star USA.

I'd start by looking at Google maps for the area and search masseria, agriturismo, resort and see if anything comes up that takes your fancy. I prefer simple accommodation ( which would include a pool) but maybe your needs are different.

I'd also not want to stay in an international place so probably not able to help more

Last edited by bilboburgler; Aug 11th, 2021 at 09:12 AM.
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Old Aug 11th, 2021, 10:44 AM
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Thanks. We have travelled to Europe before and we are Canadian, not American, and we know what to expect from 5 star hotels in Europe. Less glitz, more quality.
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Old Aug 12th, 2021, 09:37 AM
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We have increased the number of nights we will be in Puglia to twelve (from ten).

How should we split the time between the areas around Monopoli and Ostuni and the southern area of the Puglia peninsula?

Thanks
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Old Aug 19th, 2021, 07:54 AM
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Hi,

We booked our trip and we will be spending five nights in the south of Puglia near Santa María de Leuca and seven nights near Locorotondo/Fasano. With our return flights to/from Brindisi, this works quite well for travelling to and from the airport.

Thanks again for all of your help.
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