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A short report of our vacation in Sicily and Malta

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Oct 27th, 2009, 07:07 AM
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A short report of our vacation in Sicily and Malta

We just return from our vacation in Sicily and Malta. Below there are some details , one of you will find them helpful.

1. Palermo 6 nights
In the first we took the hop on - hop off bus for the first view of the city. Then we walked and visited the city. We loved Mirto Palace, Massimo Theatre, Piazza Marina and the Garibaldi park with old , huge trees, Palazzo dei Normanni, Piazza Pretoria, Martorana church, teatro Garibaldi, the Cathedral
From Palermo we made day trips to Erice, to Cefalu and to Monreale .
We enjoyed Cefalu views, Monreale cathedral. We were not so impressed by Erice, found it too cold, too much stone!

2. Taormina 4 nights
Taormina is lovely and the views are superb. Visited the Greek Theatre, Isola Bella (by cable car.
Day trip to Castelmola, for even more beautiful views of all Taormina and the sea.
We took a day trip (organized trip) to Agrigento and Piazza Armerina. Loved the mosaics at Piazza Armerina, they are incredible nice and large. It was a good idea to take a trip, as the guide was very good and gave us interesting explanations regarding temples in Agrigento.

3. Ortigia 4 nights
Loved the Cathedral , Archeological Museum, some churches in Siracusa.
Done a day trip to Noto - a splendid baroque town. Visited there the Nicolaci Palace.
We planned to visit Modica, but the travel time from Siracusa to there and back was too long and the buses were not so frequent, so unfortunately we could not do this trip.

4. After this, from Catania we arrived (by plane) to La Valletta (Malta) . Stayed there 4 nights
Took the hop on/off bus (north island route) and made a long stop at Mdina. This is an old city with walls and old, nice buildings.
We received a free cruise (90 min.) so in the next day we could admire the beaches , buildings and monuments of Malta from the sea.
One day took a day tour to Gozo. It was a good idea, as they take you to many places, like Xlendi with its antique washing place, Blue Window, Victoria (Rabat) with its wonderful cathedral.

.
We stayed in B&B that somebody recommended in another forum and all were very clean, in good location, and the owners were very kind and nice persons. In Palermo – at Butera28. This is an old palace, belonging to adopted son of Giuseppe Lampedusa (the author of “the Leopard”). The owner still lives in the palace, and this part of the house is really a palace. The owner took us for a short visit in the palace and it was amazing. In the apartment we rent we had every thing that should be in a house, even washing machine and all detergents.

In Taormina we stayed at Joan’s heritage, on main shopping street (Corso Umberto) and 2 minutes from central bus station. Nice decoration, very good location, good breakfast.

In Siracusa – Ortigia we stayed at La Corte degli angeli. This old building and all the rooms are like a jewelry. Full with statues, pictures, flowers, silver dishes. Located 1 minute from Cathedral and from Piazza Archimede.

We had not a car. The transportation between towns was by public transport (bus). I had (from internet) the timetable so I knew exactly when we have to be at central station. The buses are clean, in time , take you to the center of each city. Very easy and cheap to use them. As our accommodations were also not far from station, we even did not need a taxi!

We loved Sicily and Malta - the landscape, the palaces, the churches, the archeological places. It was a nice surprise for us, as we expected to find more poverty or to feel not so safe. Even in Palermo - big city, we felt very safe all the time .
The food was very good, in special the fishes and sea food. We loved Sicilian wine, and enjoyed almond wine, ice cream and the chocolate of Modica.
The weather was perfect, not too hot, not too humid. Sunny days, pleasant nights.
We bought (to take home) some good Sicilian cheese, almond wine and from Malta - sterling silver filigree jewelry .
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Oct 27th, 2009, 08:10 AM
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Thanks for this report! It was really interesting to read since Sicily is one of thhe rare italian places I haven't been. I hope to have it as my next destination.
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Oct 28th, 2009, 04:58 AM
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Thank you for the informative report.
In preparation for my excursion, I have some questions:
- Is a direct bus from Palermo to Taormina?
- Have you a recommendation for some restaurants?
- Did you fly Alitalia from Rome to Palermo? How was?
- Did you visit Trapani? How is it?
- In the tour to Agrigento and P. Armerina was enough tour to visit? Do you think that is better to take two separate excursions?

Thank you in advance.
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Oct 30th, 2009, 06:10 AM
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Sorry Adrian, I did not see your message till now.

1. No, there is not a direct bus Palermo - Taormina. You take the bus from Palermo to Catania (airport or central station) and from there, the bus to Taormina. The stop in Taormina is near main shopping street. It is not difficult to change the buses and the buses are clean, in time and not crowded.

2. Sorry, no. We had lunch and sometime dinner at different restaurants, closed to where we were at this time (we did not look for a special restaurant). We loved all of them.

3. Yes, from Rome with took Alitalia. Less than hour, nothing special. Our friends were worry as they knew different awful stories about Alitalia, but every thing was OK.

4. No, sorry. We only changed the bus in Trapani (coming from Palermo, in our way to Erice).

5. Yes, the tour was very good, we did not feel that a longer time was needed. Glad to take the tour, we receive from the guide good info. It was a long day , but it was interesting and we loved the tour.
From Taormina , at least for us, this combined tour was the unique option. An thinking about this now, it was better than to spend two half days than one full day.

When you plan to visit Sicily?

If you have more questions, I'll be glad to help.
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Nov 1st, 2009, 05:44 AM
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Nice report Valtor. Can I ask where did you get the bus timetable on the internet?
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Nov 1st, 2009, 08:54 AM
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In Sicily bus companies and you have to know what company goes to your destination.

From Palermo to Catania line there is SAIS ,http://www.saisautolinee.it/

Between Catania and Taormina or Siracusa are www.interbus.it or http://www.etnatrasporti.it

From Palermo to Trapani is Segesta company (I don't have now its address, but it is easy to find it in net).

From Trapani to Erice there is AST bus. There is also a cable car, but it does not run always.
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Nov 1st, 2009, 09:08 AM
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I agree, valtor, lovely succinct report.

any chance you could post the web-addresses of the places you stayed?

regards, ann
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Nov 1st, 2009, 10:37 AM
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No problem, Ann! The addresses are:

Palermo : www.butera28.it/Butera28ENG/Butera28_home.swf

Taormina:
http://www.miasicilia.it/Joan%27s%20...0Heritage.html


Siracusa (Ortigia): www.lacortedegliangeli.com

Malta (La Valletta): http://www.osbornehotel.com/page.asp?p=13612&l=1

I wrote them all, as I ahd some questions and I received prompt and deatiled answers.

The owners in Taormina and Siracusa do not speak a lot of English, but we could understand each other.

For Palermo and Taormina I sent in advance 50 Euro as waranty, for other - nothing.
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Nov 1st, 2009, 03:35 PM
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hi valtor,


what lovely places and all so different, to judge by how they look on their websites.

how did you find them?
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Nov 1st, 2009, 04:03 PM
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Thanks Valtor for the bus info. Also I have booked at La Corte Degli Angeli for our trip next year!
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Nov 1st, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Looking at the bus schedule, looks like we would have to change at Catania if going from Taormina to Syracusa?
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Nov 1st, 2009, 10:03 PM
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Yes, from Taormina to Syracusa you have to change in Catania.
The same going from Palermo to Taormina .

It is not complicated, you arrive and take the bus from the same place. Because of the bus schedule, in general you have to wait some time, like 30 min.
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Jan 16th, 2011, 06:05 PM
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Your report is just what I was looking for. Thank you so much. We would love to go to Sicily but were afraid that busses would not be feasible to all the sights. Now that I see how you did it, it looks like it could be done. I really did not think about Sardinia but now I will look into it.

Pat
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Jan 16th, 2011, 06:08 PM
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Sorry, I meant Malta.

Pat
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Jan 17th, 2011, 03:57 AM
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There was a fantastic programme on BBC over Christmas/New Year [which I only got round to watching last night] called Carluccio and the Leopard. it was about a journey taken by Antonio Carluccio [an italian restaurteur well known on British telly] around Sicily following the scenes [and making the meals] from Lamapusa's great work, "The Leopard" which is, apparently, a very well-known novel set in 19C Sicily.

if you can get a chance to watch it, take it.
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Jan 17th, 2011, 05:34 AM
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Ann, at Palermo we stayed in a pension which is located in a palace of the nephew of Lampedusa. They invited us to visit the palace (where they live) and where there are a lot of pictures of Lampedusa and his family.
It was very interesting.
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Jan 17th, 2011, 06:39 AM
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how nice, valtor. I see now on re-reading the thread you have already mentioned the link to Lampedusa and his adoptive son -who i think featured in the programme [unless he had more than one son who he adopted!].

I have now ordered The Leopard [and a study guide as my italian is not that good] through amazon so i am looking forward to getting to grips with Lampedusa and his family.

Next task - to "persuade" DH that he wants to go to Sicily!
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Jan 17th, 2011, 10:12 AM
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Ann, we loved Sicily!
About Leopard, did you see the movie?
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Jan 17th, 2011, 10:35 AM
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Thanks for this report, valtor. I am heading to Sicily for the first time in March!
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Jan 17th, 2011, 11:13 AM
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Didn't see this trip report before. I just want to add that you can take the train between Siracusa and Taormina. Nice train, direct (no need to change trains in Catania). The only catch is the train goes along the coastline. From the train station at Giardini Naxos you must take a bus or taxi way uphill to Taormina.
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