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Am I nuts? Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica in 3 weeks.

Am I nuts? Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica in 3 weeks.

Old Feb 10th, 2008, 12:22 PM
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Am I nuts? Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica in 3 weeks.

Hi everybody,

I've always wanted to visit these 3 islands but I don't think I'll ever visit them on separate trips (for reasons not worth mentioning right now), so, I thought why not visit them all together? Years ago, I saw an episode of Globe Trekkers (Lonely Planet) with Ian Wright where he visited these 3 islands together and I've just read a trip report by NeoPatrick where he did the same, so I guess I'm not that crazy after all.

Anyhow, I have 3 weeks available and this is what I've thought so far:

SICILY: 3 nights in Taormina to stroll the town and spend some time on the beach and then take the train to Palermo for 4 nights to visit the main sights: the Cathedral, the Vucciria Market and Convento dei Cappuccini.

(Palermo-Cagliari ferry)

SARDINIA: 7 nights which I really have no idea how to split. I'd thought of 3 nights in Cagliari and then take the train to Alghero for 4 nights, but, apparently, ferries leave for Corsica only from Santa Teresa Gallura, so I don't know how to split those 7 nights.

(Santa Teresa Gallura-Bonifacio ferry)

CORSICA: 4 nights in Bonifacio and then bus to Ajaccio for 3 nights.

1. Does this sound like a good plan?
2. Am I splitting the time correctly?
3. Is it possible to go from Alghero to Santa Teresa Gallura to take the ferry to Corsica that same day or should I spend the night?

Thanks.
Valenciano is offline  
Old Feb 10th, 2008, 12:42 PM
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I'd consider the cathedral at Monreale (a suburb of Palermo, reachable by local bus), the Palazzo dei Normanni or La Martorana more interesting than the cathedral in Palermo or the Capuchin crypt, but to each his/her own.
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Old Feb 10th, 2008, 01:06 PM
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There's nothing crazy about it. I've visited the three islands in less than three weeks.
From Sardinia to Corsica, there are also ferries from Porto Torres to Propriano (www.sncm.fr).
From Santa Teresa to Bonifacio, there are several sailings daily (www.saremar.it and www.moby.it).
To get from Alghero to Santa Teresa, there's a train or bus to Sassari (www.ferroviesardegna.it), train to Olbia (www.trenitalia.com) then buses to Santa Teresa (www.arst.sardegna.it). It should be possible to get from Alghero to Bonifacio in one day.
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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:19 AM
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Nothing wrong and sounds fantastic.
Once you are in Taormina you should visit Etna and Siracusa they are daily trips leave from the town check it out with this web side http://www.sat-group.it/

If you would like to have a private tour with a visit of winery or just simply a transfer you can look at this web side
http://www.sicilylimousineservice.com/sicily/index.htm
If you would like to use trains from Taormina and Palermo the web side to check the train timetable is www.trenitalia.it
Have a great time

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Old Feb 11th, 2008, 04:36 AM
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I second the suggestion that Monreale is a more impressive cathedral than Palermo. It was one of the highlights of my Sicily trip.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 04:59 AM
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Hi again,

I mentioned the Cathedral, the Vucciria market and the Capuchin Convent just to name a few landmarks in Palermo.

Planning this trip has been a bit hard because I just have 3 weeks and I'll depend on just public transportation. How was your 3 islands in less than 3 weeks itinerary GeoffHamer?

I've changed it a bit because of logistics and this is what I have now:

Ajaccio, 1 night.
Bonifacio, 3 nights.
Alghero, 3 nights.
Cagliari, 3 nights.
Palermo, 4 nights.
Taormina, 4 nights.
Paris, 1 night.

I'm going with my mom but she's left all the planning to me. However, when I told her that we wouldn't go Costa Smeralda, she freaked out because she says that even though all those resorts, like Porto Cervo, are artificial places, she'd like to see at least one of them. I could still add 3 nights in order to spend them on Costa Smeralda (which I'd rather split among Bonifacio, Alghero and Cagliari), but wouldn't I be moving too much in just 3 weeks? I'd thought of adding those 3 other extra nights on the Arcipelago della Maddalena (which according to the official website is part of the Costa Smeralda), but she insists on seeing Porto Cervo at least for half a day. Any recommendations?

Thanks.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 05:09 AM
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As you say, we've done it, and I think it makes great sense.
Here are a couple of thoughts in reading your itinerary.

I'd really try to sneak a night in Agrigento between Taormina and Palermo. The Valley of Temples at night is magical. You could do a day trip there from Palermo, but night is so wonderful there, and I think you could sacrifice one night in Palermo for a night in Agrigento.

While we thought Bonafacio had a certain charm, I'd not want to make it my base for more than half of my stay in Corsica. I'd probably just do two nights there, then head to Ajacio for 3, then on up to Calvi for 2 or even the northeast corner, using the same number of total nights you mentioned.

Since you do have to go so far north for your ferry from Sardinia to Corsica, I'd try to spend my final night in the north. La Madalena was our favorite spot in Sardinia. If you have an early morning arrival in Cagliari, I'd opt for just two nights there (two full days), then maybe Alghero for 3 nights, and do 2 nights in La Madalena or at least somewhere north in Sardinia. You could then day trip, or even go through Costa Smeralda on your way to La Maddelena. Having lunch there was enough for us.

But this is fine tuning, there is nothing wrong with what you have planned.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:25 AM
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I agree with Patrick's suggestion to spend one night in Agrigento between Palermo and Taormina. Agrigento is well worth the trip and is most beautiful at night.

Since Sicily is so big, you might consider stealing a night from another of your destinations to do that.

I also agree that Monreale is one of the most beautiful and unusual cathedrals anywhere and shouldn't be missed. It is an easy day trip from Palermo. We actually went on a municipal bus and spent most of the day there.

I have never been to Corsica but the rest of your trip sounds wonderful. I am green with envy!
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 06:44 AM
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I suddenly had a flash back to your original post and realized that you may be talking about doing all this with public transportation. Is that right? To be really honest -- while that might work fine in Sicily (you can even take a fairly quick train from Palermo to Agrigento), I can't imagine exploring Corsica and Sardinia without a car. The towns or cities are fine, but you really need to get out and explore the countryside and the coasts. Buses are really not going to give you nearly the experience that driving will.

I'm also unclear where you leave Corsica from -- and how, which could affect your itinerary in Corsica. I was assuming working north, because of the fast ferry to Nice, but perhaps that isn't your route?
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:20 AM
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I agree with Neopatrick : you absolutely need a car in Sardinia. Public transportation is not very good except between the big cities (Alghero, Sassari, Olbia and Cagliari). You will miss a lot.

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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:21 AM
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Hey,

Thanks everybody for your suggestions about Etna, Monreale and Agrigento. I'll sure take them into account since I'm spending 4 nights in each Taormina and Palermo.

Thanks GeoffHamer for all the links. You've made planning this trip a lot easier.

If I flew with Airfrance, I'd do the itinerary described above. If I flew with Alitalia, I'd do this one:

Taormina, 4 nights.
Palermo, 4 nights.
Cagliari, 3 nights.
Maddalena island, 3 nights.
Bonifacio, 3 nights.
Alghero, 3 nights.
Olbia, 1 night.

Somehow I prefer this one because I I won't be taking so many planes to get in and out of Europe. However, I regret not having included Ajaccio, although I must admit that it doesn't look as charming as Bonifacio from the pictures I've seen on flickr.com

Taking into account NeoPatrick's advice, I'd be getting at Cagliari at 9.30, which gives me almost 2 full days there. However, I'd thought of 3 nights in Cagliari in order to visit one nearby beach. Is it worth spending that extra night in Cagliari to do this or is it better to add it somewhere else?

Thanks again for your help.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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I cannot imagine spending 4 nights in Taormina when there are gorgeous little towns and cities you could be enjoying on the way to Palermo!Its VERY touristy,crowded and when the cruise ship people hit the city-watch out for that day.
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Old Feb 12th, 2008, 07:46 AM
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Hey again,

I'm planning on doing this on public transportation because even though I'm 30 years old, I can't drive at all, that's why I'm having a bit of a hard time organizing this trip.

Concerning public transportation, this is how I'm planning on doing it thanks to the links provided by GeoffHamer.

1. Arrival at Catania Airport and then take the train to Taormina.

2. Train from Taormina to Palermo.

3. Ferry from Palermo to Cagliari. It leaves at 19.00 and it arrives at 9.30 the following day.

4. Train from Cagliari to Olbia, bus from Olbia to Palau and finally ferry to Maddalena island.

5. Ferry from Maddalena island to Palau, bus from Palau to Santa Teresa and ferry to Bonifacio.

6. Ferry from Bonifacio to Santa Teresa, bus to Olbia and finally train to Alghero.

7. Train from Alghero to Olbia and finally plane back home the following day.

I'm not so crazy about 4, 5 and 6, but what can I do? I've seriously thought of not visiting Bonifacio after all and spend those 3 nights in Sicily, but I wouldn't like to take it off my itinerary.

What do you think? Am I nuts with these logistics after all?

Thanks again.
Valenciano is offline  
Old Feb 12th, 2008, 08:04 AM
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Why not take a train from Cagliari to Alghero? Then Alghero to Olbia (including Palau, Maddalena and Bonifacio) instead of doing Olbia-Alghero and back?
IMO two days in Alghero is enough, especially if you don't have a car I was in Alghero last October (see trip report) and will be in Cagliari next March. I will let you know about the beaches (none really close to the city, you'll have to take public transportation to get to the nearest one, Poetta)
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Old Feb 13th, 2008, 02:49 AM
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Well, after giving it a lot of thought, I've decided not to visit Bonifacio after all and just focuse on Sicily and Sardinia. Perhaps, I can visit Corsica along with Paris or Nice some other time.

So my Sicily-Sardinia itinerary is this:

Taormina, 3 nights.
Cefalù, 2 nights.
Palermo, 5 nights (Monreale).
Cagliari, 3 nights (1 night on ferry).
Alghero, 3 nights.
Maddalena, 3 nights.
Olbia, 1 night.

How about it?

Thanks.
Valenciano is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2008, 06:13 AM
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Hy regarding Sicily the airport and the train station are not close at all if you want to use public transport there is a good bus service from Catania to Taormina direct www.interbus.it .
Please do not use the taxi service out of the airport they always overcharge tourist
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Old Feb 13th, 2008, 07:41 AM
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Valenciano,
I'm glad you are spending more time in Sicily, because there is so much to see and experience there. But I noticed your itinerary still does not include Siracusa/Ortigia. I personally think it's worth a lot more than a day trip, but in the very least, you should try to get there for a day.
Perhaps you can take a day or two from Palermo and go to Siracusa. BTW, Cefalu is a lovely little seaside town and it's only an hour by train from Palermo. So you might want to take that in consideration in deciding where to base yourself for the 7 days you will be in the area.
I agree with the suggestion of taking the bus from the Catania airport to Taormina because it's just easier than the train. The train stops in Giardini/Naxos and you will need to get a taxi or local bus from there up to Taormina. It's easy enough to do but it's just something to be aware of. And if you decide to take a taxi up from the train station, tell the driver to take the Via Luigi Pirandello -- it's the scenic, winding road leading up to Taormina, which the bus also takes. There is a back road that is not nearly as nice, but is easier and the taxi might decide to take that one.
Also, while Taormina is touristy, it is also spectacularly beautiful with wonderful views, and IMO, the most impressive Greek Theater anywhere, including Greece. So don't short change yourself in that area. You can also get to Siracusa and the Aeolian Islands for a day trip from there.
You can get to Agrigento easily from Taormina, Cefalu or Palermo.
When are you planning to go?
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Old Feb 13th, 2008, 05:00 PM
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Hi again,

I'd like to go in June. Thanks for the Catania-Taormina advice. I had no idea.

You're right about that Panecott. Since Cefalù and Palermo are so close to each other, do you think it would be good to spend 4 instead of 5 nights in Palermo? I'll arrive in Palermo in the morning anyway, so that means I'll have 3 full days and a half.

Any thoughts?
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Old Feb 13th, 2008, 05:01 PM
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Hi again,

I'd like to go in June. Thanks for the Catania-Taormina advice. I had no idea.

You're right about that Panecott. Since Cefalù and Palermo are so close to each other, do you think it would be good to spend 4 instead of 5 nights in Palermo? I'll arrive in Palermo in the morning anyway, so that means I'll have 3 full days and a half.

Any thoughts?
Valenciano is offline  
Old Feb 13th, 2008, 06:38 PM
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I hate to keep beating that poor dead horse, but after Cefalu, you could easily take a train to Agrigento for a night, then return to Palermo for 3 nights (or 4).
By the way while in Palermo, taking public transportation up to Erice and spending some time in Trapani is quite a worthwhile day trip.
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