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A week in Sicily doable or not?

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Mar 24th, 2015, 03:48 AM
  #1
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A week in Sicily doable or not?

We are visiting Sicily for the first time in May. We are traveling with my in-laws and my 4 year old daughter. We are seasoned travelers and would rather have amazing local experiences then lay on a beach. I'm wanting our vacation to be infused with local culture and a bit of wiggle room but still busy. With that in mind please let me know if you think this schedule is possible or if you would omit/add/change something. We already have flights into/out of PMO and a rental car, everything else is flexible. I considered cutting out the two days in Siracusa and adding that time to Taormina and day tripping to Siracusa. All opinions welcome!

21st arrive at 9:50am and drive right to agrigento (2hr) to see valley of temple and temple of concord, stay over night one night.

22nd - drive 2hr27m to Siracusa/ortigia stay 2 nights visit villa romana del casale and park of Syracuse.

24th - drive 1h22m to Taormina/mt Edna stay 2 nights visit barone do villagrande (wine ;-), consider jeep excursion of upper slopes.

26th drive 2hr45min to Palermo on the way visit Enna (castle) and Ragusa/modlica (chocolate), stay overnight and fly out 2000 on 27th, cooking class and visit Monreale.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 03:59 AM
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The world is doable in a weeek but

We based ourselves in Ortigia and visited Modica, Noto, Taormina, Ragusa Ibla and Vendicari.

Non of the day trips were too arduous.

Taormina attracts varied opinions, personally I didn't consider it a local experience. Just a cruise ship type place full of tacky stalls and over expensive, under quality restaurants. The views are iconic but that's what for us just justified a day trip.

Vendicari nature reserve is a beautifully quiet beach walk and we loved Modica/ Noto.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 06:18 AM
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Definitely Ortigia over Taormina.

Where did you get those driving times? That sounds like an unrealistic itinerary to me. Sicily is a wonderful destination, but bigger than you may think. For only a week it is better to pick either the east or west side.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 06:20 AM
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Everyone has different impressions. We loved Taormina. It is charming if you don't spend all of your time on the main street, the views are spectacular and we had great food there. I think you may have one stop too many. I'd consider dropping either Siracusa or Taormina to give yourselves a bit more time in route and in Palermo.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 06:32 AM
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I'd drop Taormna and agree with thursdaysd--better to pick east or west side.

Noto is wonderful
Do NOT miss the Catedrale in Monreale--incredible mosaics, for me it is the most beautiful church in the world, especially magical if you can get there for a Sunday mass
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Mar 24th, 2015, 07:12 AM
  #6
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Thanks everyone for your opinion. I got the drive times from Google maps but understand they could be off. If you had your options would you cancel Siracusa and day trip there from Taormina area or the other way?

Also, looking at the map I realized Modica is rather out of our way (an additional hour to our driving) is it worth it?
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Mar 24th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Personally, I would base yourself in Modica. Some great small hotels in the area and all sites are day trippable.

If you start making an effort in the SW, particularly around Modica/ Ragusa you can uncover some spectacular unassuming and off the radar little restaurants. From your original post this is the Sicily you are seeking.

Just a different experience in Taorimina.

BTW have you watched the TV series Inspector Montalbano?
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Mar 24th, 2015, 10:47 AM
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Do not cancel Siracusa! But stay in Ortigia - on the island, not in the town.

A better source for drive times is viamichelin.co.uk, but I would still add a bit.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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I'd vote for Ortigia (Siracusa) over Taormina.

I don't think your drive times are too far off. Sicily's roads are good and there was not much traffic when we were there (outside the cities).
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Mar 24th, 2015, 11:14 AM
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Thanks! I will look at the drive time difference. Reading some more and based on feedback I think we won't stay in Taormina. We will probably base ourself in a small town near Modica and drive in for the day. We are thinking of doing Mt. Edna in the morning then driving to Taormina for the remainder of the day. At mt. Edna I think it's most prudent based on our group (my in laws aren't in great health and I have a 4 year old traveling) to avoid any trekking. So we are just planning on driving to the highest point allowed and wandering around a bit.

So that frees up a day for us. Where would you add it?
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Mar 24th, 2015, 05:59 PM
  #11
kja
 
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"1st arrive at 9:50am and drive right to agrigento (2hr) to see valley of temple and temple of concord, stay over night one night."

I don't know where you are coming from, but if jet lag is a possibility, please don't underestimate the dangers it poses for driving.

"would you cancel Siracusa and day trip there from Taormina area or the other way?"

I'm among those who FAR preferred Ortygia to Taormina. I didn't dislike Taormina -- it affords some stunning views and, once away from the crowds, has some nice corners. But I found it rather unpleasant during the daytime while the crowds massed the main streets. In contrast, Ortygia was a delight at ANY time of day and has some WONDERFUL restaurants. (Of course, good food shouldn't be a problem anywhere in Sicily!)

"We are thinking of doing Mt. Edna in the morning ... we are just planning on driving to the highest point allowed and wandering around a bit."

Are you sure that's how you want to use your extremely limited time in Sicily? As I recall, you really can't see that much from the highest point to which you can drive. And the views of Mt. Etna from Taormina are much better IMO.

"So that frees up a day for us. Where would you add it?"

I must be missing something, as I don't see any lean in your plan! Please lay it out for us.

FWIW, I agree that the Monreale Cathedral is a must-see and I truly enjoyed a visit to Noto, which you can do as a day-trip from Ortygia.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 06:58 PM
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Just to pile on here. Another who greatly favored Ortigia over Taormina.
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Mar 24th, 2015, 11:09 PM
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Kja- thanks for your insight.

We are only flying from Naples after spending a week there so jet lag shouldn't be an issue.

I am still debating if mt. Edna will be worth a morning. Maybe a last minute decision.

My 'free day' referred to the two days we had planned on staying in Taormina and mt Edna area that got combined to one. I think in it's place we will add Nota as many people have mentioned this to be a beautiful addition.

Thanks everyone!
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Mar 24th, 2015, 11:30 PM
  #14
kja
 
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"My 'free day' referred to the two days we had planned on staying in Taormina and mt Edna area that got combined to one. "

I guess I'm still not following your plan -- sorry! I don't see time for Palermo -- and its Cathedral is among the most beautiful places I've been privileged to see. And if you are flying out of Palermo, you might want to be there before your flight -- and there is MUCH to savor in Palermo IMO.

"I think in it's place we will add Nota"

Noto would be a good choice IMO, and as already noted, it is easily visited from Ortygia. FWIW, with so little time in Sicily, I'm not sure if it makes sense to visit Noto AND any of the other Baroque towns (Ragusa, Modica, etc.) unless you have a VERY specific interest in that era and / or that style of architecture.

On the other hand, the cathedral of Monreale and the Villa Romana del Casale and the ruins at Agrigento (and elsewhere) are very, very special and unlike things you can see anywhere else.

Enna is pleasant -- some great views and a few interesting corners. I'm glad I saw it, but with just a week, I personally would not make it a priority. JMO.

Again, I could simply be misunderstanding your itinerary, and if so, my apologies -- but I see a LOT of time going from place to place and VERY little time to actually see anything. I'm sure I just haven't figured out what you are currently planning. FWIW, if you haven't already done so, I recommend that you identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from places, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together.

Hope that helps!
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Mar 25th, 2015, 06:28 AM
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Concur with kja that Palermo has more possibilities for people who want to experience local culture than going to Mount Etna. There is a great market in Palermo, Monreale, lots and lots to do. You should plan to spend at least one full day there.

FWIW, if we were to go back to Sicily, we'd spend more time in Palermo than anywhere else, partly because the archaeology museum was closed when we were there. Sicily was not what we thought it was going to be (in a very good way), and Palermo was more unlike what we thought than anywhere else on the Island.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 06:28 AM
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Concur with kja that Palermo has more possibilities for people who want to experience local culture than going to Mount Etna. There is a great market in Palermo, Monreale, lots and lots to do. You should plan to spend at least one full day there.

FWIW, if we were to go back to Sicily, we'd spend more time in Palermo than anywhere else, partly because the archaeology museum was closed when we were there. Sicily was not what we thought it was going to be (in a very good way), and Palermo was more unlike what we thought than anywhere else on the Island.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 05:00 PM
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We thought Noto was spectacular....and I had the eerie experience of being the only woman walking through town mid afternoon. Different world, different culture. Agree with KJA about the Villa Romana del Casale and Mt Etna not being worth it (IMO) compared to other experiences. Agrigento was amazing but for us, somewhat ruined by crowds--we felt like we got more sense of ruins at Segesta and Selunante (spelling)---both 1-2 hour stops, not on scale of Agrigento though.

We very much liked the Hotel Palace Centrale in Palermo--central, elegant, a refuge in a wonderful but not easy city. It is part of Best Western chain but nothing like Best Westerns in the United States.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 05:19 PM
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Err, kja did not say that the Villa Casale was "not worth it". In fact she said, as I would, the exact opposite. It is one of the best sites on island with plenty of them.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 05:54 PM
  #19
kja
 
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Yes, I thought the Villa Romana del Casale very well worth it!

(It seems that cmstraf's statement could be parsed in two ways -- perhaps she means that she agrees that the Villa Casale WAS worth it, and Mt. Etna, not so much?)
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Mar 25th, 2015, 07:11 PM
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Ortigia is magical so definitely stay on the island . Hotel Gutowski or Hotel Roma would be my pics there. (My daughter lived in Ortigia for 5 months and it changed her life-the markets,lifestyle,culture,people and food were amazing. It is a great place to be based if you need to do daytrips in those areas.
In my opinion, there is nothing Sicilian about Taormina. The streets are packed with cruise ship folks and the whole experience of staying there makes you yearn for the beauty and peacefulness of the rest of the island.
We did a daytrip to Mt. Etna using Geoexplorers which is a volcano graduates group out of Catania.It was so interesting and the scientist that took use shared many tidbits about this volcano.
Trapani with the Egidi Islands as a daytrip was wonderful and I have always loved staying in Marsala. Have fun-Sicily is like Italy before the tourists ruined it!
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