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Eastern Sicily -- please help with planning!

Eastern Sicily -- please help with planning!

Dec 19th, 2012, 07:45 PM
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Eastern Sicily -- please help with planning!

We are planning to spend a week exploring eastern Sicily in late June. It will be our first trip to Sicily! I am thinking to base ourseleves in two places -- Taormina and Syracusa -- but I have some questions I was hoping to get answered to help my planning.

First of all, i'm not sure if I should add a third base in the Val di Noto. Instead of doing 4 nights/3 nights in the two places, maybe doing 3 nts, 2 nts, 2 nts. Would you recommend staying overnight in Ragusa or Noto?

More importantly, what are your absolute favorite things (restaurants, day trips, hotels, sites, or beaches) about this area?

We're a couple in our late forties, traveling by rental car, and are mostly interested in great food, beautiful architecture, charming villages, great beaches, and history/culture.

Thanks so much!
dina4 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 08:42 PM
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I've not been to Taormina, and I am decidedly not a beach person (anymore...sob...), but I'd be inclined to do 2/3/2. In spring 2011 we had two nights in Modica and two nights on Ortygia. I would have added a night to Modica because we took a day trip to Villa Romana del Casale one day and there were things I wanted to see close by but we just ran out of time.

Are you interested in ruins at all? If so, one could spend a lot of time at the archaeological museum and Greek sites in Syracusa. We rushed through the museum. I like that kind of stuff, so I wanted more time there too.
Leely2 is offline  
Dec 19th, 2012, 10:02 PM
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You are in for a great trip, no matter how you allocate your time! This area provides a wealth of opportunities that match your interests.

I loved my time in Syracusa! I spent about 2.5 days there and enjoyed every minute. My impression is that it would be easy to spend another 1/2 day or so there even if one travels at a fairly fast pace. For example, I didn't get onto the water at all while I was there, and had the impression that it would be very pleasant to do so.

I enjoyed my 2 nights in Taormina, if for vey different reasons. My impression was that huge cruise ships anchored off-shore and spewed hoards of people into the town's narrow medieval streets each day. (No criticism intended of the tourists - after all, I was a tourist there, too!) For one of my days there, I took a full-day tour of Mt. Etna and surrounding areas - a trip I greatly enjoyed. For the rest of my time in Taormina, I tried to balance my desire to avoid crowds with my desire to see the best of the place. I visited the spectacular theater and a few places in town that I considered high priorities, and then stepped off the main street, moving to a road parallel to the main shopping street. I moved from packed chaos to near solitude! I also visited Castelmola and Isola Bella after most cruise passengers returned to their ships. Once the day-trippers left, the town seemed to me to have a magical quality.

I also spent an evening and night in Noto and loved it! If the facades in Noto don't make you smile, please consult a mental health professional! I was very glad that I chose to ensure seeing these facades by the differing lighting conditions as day passed into evening and night.

I visited Sicily in 2007, so I'm sure my restaurant info is out of date, but for what its worth, here's the link:


kja is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 12:45 AM
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Don't worry about the nights; places are near.
If you have a car you can reach every place in few hour.
Between Ragusa and Noto i think is better to choose Noto; a small town with a loto of thing to do.
Restaurant? try the small places they are characteristics and very good.

MassimoFabbri is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 03:25 AM
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There are some suggestions here:

Marija is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 03:44 AM
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2/3/2 would be my suggestion. As mentioned above, Taormina is stunning but very touristy. The view is the star & after 2 nights we were ready to move on. Siracusa (actually only the Ortygia part) is about atmosphere. Narrow, twisty streets with the sea only a turn or two away. You will eat well here. We used Modica as a base for day trips & enjoy its slice of Sicilian town life & head-turning beauty as the town rises from the Corso. We skipped Nota & visited Ragusa - which is best viewed from the bus/car on the way in. There are lots of great trip reports to read to help you. Here's mine:


Ian is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 04:40 AM
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Your trip sounds great. I think two bases would be nice, probably Taormina and Ortygia. You will see all of the things you are looking for - wonderful food, beautiful scenery and architecture and can take day trips. You will not see great beaches but the ocean views are stunning from Taormina which is on a cliff far above the water. The views of the sea and Mt. Etna from the rooms and terrace of the Villa Schuler in Taormina left a lasting impression. A hike to Castelmola, even higher, affords incredible vistas.

Have a lovely trip - Sicily is wonderful.
mamcalice is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 05:29 AM
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You have chosen well -- Sicily is one of my favorite places! If you want to see my Trip Report for our visit, you can click on my name. We spent a lot of time in the east.

I also think that two bases are best, but I would suggest that you stay in Ortigia and either Noto or Ragusa. We stayed in Ragusa and liked it very much -- really enjoyed the walk across the gorge between the old and new town.

For hotels, I highly recommend the hotel Aretusa Vacanze in Ortigia (www.aretusavacanze.com)and Risvegilo Ibleo (www.risveglioibleo.com) in Ragusa. For restaurants in Ragusa, I loved Locandina located in a gorgeous vaulted cellar made from white limestone (http://www.inlocandina.it) -- wonderful food and atmosphere.

If you still want to see Taormina, you could do it as a day trip from Ortigia (about 1 1/2 hrs. driving one way). We did it as a day trip from Catania. You don't say where your trip begins, but perhaps you could stop off in Taormina on your way down the coast. For us, a half day was plenty of time to see the remarkable Greek Theater and appreciate the view. I know many people recommend Taormina, but I thought it was the least authentic place we saw in Sicily.
Magster2005 is offline  
Dec 20th, 2012, 08:45 PM
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Wow. Thanks for all the thoughtful responses! I am leaning toward 2/3/2, and I'm looking forward to looking through the recs this weekend. Thanks so much, everyone!

I'm sure I'll be back with more questions.
dina4 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2012, 07:34 AM
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You and I always seem to travel to the smae places, although you get to go far more often!

I'm going in April for 3 wks. Will stay in Scicli 2 nts, Ortygia 3 nts Taormina 1 nt before heading to Lipari for 5nts.

Let me know if you want my booked hotels. Most have been recommended here.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is online now  
Dec 21st, 2012, 09:27 AM
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annhig is offline  
Dec 21st, 2012, 09:44 AM
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Yes, Dayle, please!
I am overwhelmed by the hotel choices. Please share them, as well as in Scicli and Lipari.
How did you end up choosing Scicli?

In all our trips to Italy, we have never beend to Sicily.
Also looking forward to hearing about your trip when you get back!

dina4 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2012, 03:49 PM
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Ian and Magster, thank so much for those detailed trip reports. They were so helpful and i have printed out and will use them for my trip to Sicily in May, 2013. Really appreciate it!
alison is offline  
Dec 21st, 2012, 08:24 PM
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Oops! "I also visited Castelmola and Isola Bella BEFORE most cruise passengers returned to their ships."
kja is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2012, 07:32 AM
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Dina, our family of four was in Sicily in late June 2010. We particularly enjoyed our stays at the Villa Carlotta in Taormina and the Casa Talía in Modica, http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ecial-trip.cfm.
bon_voyage is online now  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 02:54 PM
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bon voyage, marija, kja and ian,
Thanks so much for your trip reports -- i really enjoyed it and took a lot of notes!
dina4 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 03:01 PM
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So I think i've pretty much settled on three bases for the week.

I'm not quite sure which should get 2 days and which should get 3 -- but i will continue to do research on how much to there is to do in these places and hopefully that will help...

Meanwhile, these are the hotels I've narrowed down, so please comment if you can!

taormina - 2/3 NIGHTS?
hotel villa ducale -- my first choice, but is the walk into town too long?
villa belvedere
villa carlotta

B&B La Via della Giudecca
palazzo del sale
Musciara Siracusa Resort
agliga ortigia charme hotel

and then 2/3 nights in one of the following...
casa talia
le lumie
anime a sud (apt)

seven rooms villadorata

palazzo hedone
dina4 is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 03:51 PM
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Don't know if you are going to try and get there, but the Greek Temples in Agrigento are an amazing sight.
Sassafrass is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2012, 07:35 PM
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Loved both Palazzo del Sale and Casa Talia.
Leely2 is offline  
Dec 24th, 2012, 04:34 AM
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>hotel villa ducale -- my first choice, but is the walk into town too long?
We didn't attempt it. One man told me that it is about a 20 minute strenuous up & down hike. We used the free shuttle. I specifically booked it so we wouldn't be in the fray.

Ian is offline  

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