Advice on cities and sights in Sicily.

Jun 29th, 2013, 11:17 AM
  #1  
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Advice on cities and sights in Sicily.

We are thinking of visiting Sicily this fall for a week-10 days and are seeking ideas on the best cities and towns to visit. We like touring archeological sites, museums, churches, etc. but take things at a leisurely pace, with lots of cafe stops! Also really like small towns where you can wander and snap pictures. Would appreciate input about driving vs taking the train or buses. Which city is best to fly into? Thanks.
harriet_hughes is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 11:35 AM
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A car is really an asset in Sicily. Which city is the best to fly into depends on where you are coming from and whether you are able to fly non-stop to Italy and switch planes within Italy, or whether you can only fly non-stop to a northern European city and will be switching planes there.

There is a big difference between one week and 10 days when it comes to an itinerary you can comfortably accomplish if you like a leisurely place. "Best" cities and towns is really a subjective call. Some people like Taormina, others find it off-puttingly touristy. Some people are fascinated by Agrigento because of the Greek ruins there, others could have easily skipped it in favor of spending time in some of Sicily's legendary food markets. Most people who go to Palermo feel that 3 or 4 days is really the minimum amount of time needed to appreciate the city's best sights, others would rather go a small town or island.

There are more sights of historic and artistic importance in Sicily than you can easily see in 10 days -- it is really almost a small country of its own -- and if you want to also add small towns, then you need to sit down with a guide book and pick which corner of Sicily you want to see in the time you have, or whether you are willing to drop the "leisurely pace-small town" style and go for a road trip so you see more of the famous sights.

But 10 days means making some tough choices.
stevewith is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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With a week to 10 days and the desire for a leisurely pace, you may want to concentrate in the eastern or western half of the island, flying into either Catania or Palermo. Here's what we did with a two-week itinerary:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ecial-trip.cfm.
bon_voyage is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 12:43 PM
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Yes, I realize it's not much time, but there it is...just trying to make the best of what we can do. Thanks for the input.
harriet_hughes is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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<< Which city is best to fly into? >>

The main airports are Palermo and Catania. You have to decide which area of Sicily to concentrate your efforts and then you'll know which airport to choose.

My vote goes to Palermo. From there you can access Monreale (church with beautiful mosaics) and Cefalu (nice, small beach town) via public transportation. You can also get to a closer beach via public transport from Palermo. Visit at least one of the oratorios (I can't remember which one I went to but it was stunning).

Palentine Chapel has more beautiful mosaics. The cathedral was not impressive. Palazzo Abatelis has some great artwork.

I highly recommend a puppet show in Palermo.

For farther away such as Trapani, Erice, and Agrigento, a car is necessary.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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Click on my name above for my trip report of 15 days in Sicily.
bobthenavigator is online now  
Jun 29th, 2013, 10:13 PM
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Bon_voyage, your report is very interesting and helpful. Will look it over carefully as we plan further. Thanks.
harriet_hughes is offline  
Jun 29th, 2013, 10:31 PM
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Prego, harriet, I'm glad you found it helpful.
bon_voyage is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 02:11 AM
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<< Bon_voyage, your report is very interesting and helpful >>

I guess the rest of us are chopped liver.

This is something that irks me. Someone asks for help and people take time to try to help and the OP singles out one person to thank. It's just a slap in the face for everyone else.
adrienne is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 02:18 AM
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This is something that irks me. Someone asks for help and people take time to try to help and the OP singles out one person to thank. It's just a slap in the face for everyone else.>>

adrienne, i know it irks, but I'm concious that i might have done this myself from time to time, and it was never meant as a slap in the face for those who weren't thanked, just an inadvertent oversight.

I'm sure that this is the case here too.

the internet is not a good place for the thin-skinned as I have learnt to my own cost on occasion.
annhig is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 07:33 AM
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I spent ~9 days in Sicily about 2 years ago. As I recall, it was 4 nights in Catania, 4 nights in Palermo. In hindsight, I would add one more night to Catania and take it away from Palermo. Palermo felt suffocating (completely unlike the feeling I got in Naples even though the two cities are equally as chaotic and dirty), whereas Catania, while not exactly a walk in the park, was comparatively more sane and less claustrophobic.

Palermo wasn't bad, but it just didn't appeal to me. Admittedly, my hotel room in Palermo was across the street from a bar just off Via Roma named Drunks, which was open until 2 AM and the patrons stayed out until 3:30-4:00. I think you can fill in the rest of the story right there. On the plus side, the view from the rooftop patio was spectacular.

From Catania, I rented a car for a day to see Mt. Etna and Acireale, took the bus to Syracuse for a day, and spent 2 days in Catania proper (including the WWII museum that documented the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily).

Plus, the cannoli are better in Catania than in Palermo. 8-)
tdyls is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 10:13 AM
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>>>This is something that irks me. Someone asks for help and people take time to try to help and the OP singles out one person to thank. It's just a slap in the face for everyone else<<<

Sometimes it's simply the OP has read the one answer/report and hasn't gotten to the others yet (opened the thread, posted the response without reading the other responses since last logging in).

>>>Would appreciate input about driving vs taking the train or buses.<<<

You can do Sicily by bus/train if you want. Driving would give you more flexibility. This thread about how to get around Sicily by bus is from a few years ago so you would need to make sure everything is still accurate.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...sportation.cfm
kybourbon is online now  
Jun 30th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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We had a shortened trip in Sicily because of the Icelandic volcano. You might wnat to read my trip report on our 9 days of travel on the island.
Michael is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 11:37 AM
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We enjoyed Sicily without a car:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-november.cfm
Marija is online now  
Jun 30th, 2013, 11:44 AM
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I would spend very little time in Palermo. We were there in April and I thought it was the least interesting part of the trip. We missed the art gallery which might have been a highlight of our time there. Do
Go to the cathedral in Monreale. It is spectacular. Do not miss Agrigento or the mosaics at Villa C.
I would look for an organized day trip to these from Palermo or Trapani.

Pat
wanttogo is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 01:43 PM
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I loved Palermo. That's what makes a horse race, I guess.

We had an itinerary quite similar to Bon_voyage's, though more brief and in reverse. Palermo-Agrigento (stopped in Segesta in the drive down)-Modica-Siracusa. Visited Villa Romana del Casale as a day trip from Modica.

Have fun. Sicily is spectacular.
Leely2 is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 05:49 PM
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Hi Harriet,

I just finally did my 8 years in the planning trip to Sicily from mid-April to mid-May. Bobthenav's trip report got me interested and many of the others above who have responded to your question, provided the trip reports with lots of extremely helpful info for my planning.

Click on my name to read my trip report. I was happy with the amount of time I had everywhere. The only thing I would have changed was to add a night at La Foresteria in Menfi (just because it was such a nice place) and taken that night away from Palermo. 4 nights in Palermo could have been 3 for me - I saw the highlights in 2.5 days.

I loved Sicily! I drove for 9 days during my 25 day trip.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 06:21 PM
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My favorite parts were Ragusa, Siracusa and Noto.

But the ancient ruins were also beautiful -- Seliunte, Agrigento, Segesta.
scrb11 is online now  
Jun 30th, 2013, 07:03 PM
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No, me, look at MY trip report. (I do not have one here.)

Sicily quickly became of our favroite places we have visited. We had two bases one on the east side and one on the west side. We were thoroughly enthralled by the antiquities especially Arigento and the amphitheater at Taormina. And although he have seen 100's of churches over the years the one in Monreale is special.

Put us in the meh category for Palermo and we did see the puppet show and have a puppet hanging from our ceiling and we rarely bring back souvenirs for ourselves.

The people were wonderful, the food spectacular. One town that we loved was Cefalu. We went with a niece and her friend and he stopped every female under the age of 80 and asked if she would marry him, so he could live in Cefalu. Years later he did marry an Italian woman.

We had a car, which was extremely helpful, especially if you like hell driving. If you drive, do not fight with the Sicilians, embrace them.

You do not have to thank me, just send lemons.
BigAleinstein is offline  
Jun 30th, 2013, 07:31 PM
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"...just send lemons." Brewing the limoncello, huh?

I never visited but if you're into mosaics the Villa Romana del Casale - http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/832 - is truly amazing.
My favourites - Siracusa, especially the island of Ortygia, "a labyrinth of charming ancient and medieval streets." Nearby is the beautiful Baroque town of Noto.
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