First trip to Italy

Feb 9th, 2014, 07:48 AM
  #1  
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First trip to Italy

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy. We are hoping to fly into either Palermo or Catania and then on to Sicily. The question being is it cheaper and more efficient to either use the rail transport or rent a car?
Would also appreciate hearing about others who explored this part of Italy and what were their favorite experiences.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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You will have to clarify your question. Both Palermo and Catania are in Sicily.
sssteve is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:19 AM
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I don't quite understand your question because Palermo and Catania are on Sicily.

Outside of the Sicilian cities you would need a car to get around as pubic transportation takes quite a while to get from one place to another.

I liked Palermo best of the towns I visited on Sicily. It's a smallish city and not overwhelming but has wonderful architecture and a diversity of sightseeing. It's easy to get around by bus, taxi, or walking. Be sure to see a puppet show as they are amazing.

The ruins at Agrigento are well preserved and juxtaposed with modern sculptures. In addition to viewing the temples in the day time, a night drive up to them (you can't enter the grounds at night) was a great experience as the temples are bathed in an orange light at night. The road winds around so both the driver and passenger are afforded views as you approach.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:21 AM
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Palermo and Catania are both IN Sicily. Whether you'd be better with a car or not would depend on where exactly you're going.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:22 AM
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Wow! Three simultaneous replies!
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:28 AM
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Wow responses are fast! My mistake. So Sicily is the province then. Feeling more than a little stupid here LOL. We want to explore Sicily and then move upwards through Italy.
Edomsgirl is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:30 AM
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Sicily is an island.

Where on the mainland do you want to explore? That would determine whether you rent a car or take trains or fly. You could leisurely drive from Sicily throughout all of Italy (once you put the car on the ferry) or focus on several specific town/cities on the mainland.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:40 AM
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Click on my name for my trip report from Sicily.
We had 15 days and still did not see it all--I hope you have at least that much just for Sicily.

The train system on the island is not that good---I suggest car travel to best see the island.

And, BTW, plan 3 trips to Italy now since you will return. We have 17 times now.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 08:45 AM
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Sicily (Italian: Sicilia [siˈtʃiːlja]) is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea; along with surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Siciliana (Sicilian Region).

Now I have a firm understanding of where exactly Sicily is and that it is not a province but a region and is an island; I learned a lot here! LOL. We are planning on 5 weeks to explore certain areas of Italy such as Sicily, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan and Venice.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 08:46 AM
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Thank you bobthenavigator. Will do!!
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Feb 9th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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As all your locations except Sicily are cities you should fly to Naples and work your way north by train. That would be the most expedient and convenient way to travel. Book tickets ahead for the best pricing. The best routing may be Naples, Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan (fly home from Milan).

I suggest a map of Italy which you can look at on line to have an idea of where these places are located and go to your library for guide books and maps.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 09:03 AM
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Bob I really enjoyed reading through your travels and now I think the best thing for us would actually be to arrive in the Northeast part of Italy, visiting Venice, Milan, Florence and then down to Rome, Naples, must stop at Pompeii!. Now not sure where to visit as we travel downwards to Sicily. We do want to fly, after exploring parts of Sicily, to Athens, Greece and then to Macedonia. I know this is going to a rushed tour but we want to experience as much as we can in 5 weeks.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 09:06 AM
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Adrienne, I am enthralled with the "puppet show" you mentioned while in Palermo. Can you elaborate on that?
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Feb 9th, 2014, 09:12 AM
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I'm not sure about cheaper but a car is more efficient and would allow you to experience Sicily better than public transportation. We love Sicily. It is beautiful and intense - to my ay of thinking, more intense than other parts of Italy. The food is wonderful. It is alos hot in summer so you might want to plan spring or fall. We went the end of September and the weather was still quite warm but beautiful.

Do a little research to see what parts of Sicily you want to visit. We enjoyed Palermo and the east of the island - Agrigento, Siracusa, Enna and Piazza Armerina and Taormina. We were there for 10 days. Some of our favorite experiences included Palerma, Monreale, a wonderful cathedral near Palermo, the temples at Agrigento (both day and night), and the view of an erupting Mt. Etna from our hotel room in Taormina.

When are you going?
mamcalice is offline  
Feb 9th, 2014, 09:20 AM
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We are thinking of either May or November. We just got our passports! and have trips planned this year and next (smaller trips to Orlando Florida in the spring, including a cruise to the Bahamas, then Las Vegas in the fall, both for this year, and then next year going to Anaheim California in May and back to Orlando Florida for Christmas; just to see how we do). So for 2016 planning to go to Europe...Wanting to explore a bit of Paris, taking train to London, quick trip to Switzerland, then probably landing in Venice, and making the expedition through Italy then afterwards, flying to Athens Greece.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 11:08 AM
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If you are planning on doing London, Paris, Switz, a tour of Italy and then Greece in 5 weeks - you will be bouncing around like a ping pong ball. Also you need to determine if you go north to south or south to north - based on your dates. Weather can be VERY different in the various areas. Just as long as you don;t try to do it in August - with about a zillion europeans on vacation at the same time.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 11:37 AM
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After doing a bit of research, there seems to be others who have done quite a bit of travel in a limited amount of time. It's either going to be a blast (we are both in our early 50's but we are like 2 big kids) or we'll realize that this is something we won't do again! LOL The main thing is, you only live once and I don't want to be 90 years old saying well that trip wouldn't have been sensible. I'm so glad I didn't try it. If it turns out that we didn't enjoy it then we will have learned.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 11:55 AM
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Just keep in mind that you want to spend your time seeing the places you visit and not wasting time and money in logistics of travel. Sure you can move around every few days but then you end up seeing more of the trains and stations and airports than the locations you select. Jumping from place to place doesn't necessarily mean you see more...
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Feb 9th, 2014, 11:58 AM
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Meant to add...don't forget to leave time to relax and take in your surroundings...it may mean having a bottle of wine on a piazza, or lingering over a nice meal, or eating gelato, or enjoying a pint in a local pub...if you are rushing from place to place you may not get to experience the joie de vivre of these countries...
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Feb 9th, 2014, 12:12 PM
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jamikans...this is so true! I think we may have tried to bite off more than we can chew. Perhaps just touring Italy will be more than enough. Just looking at the map though is so tempting to plan a whirlwind trip but is it worth all the exhaustion afterwards?
I imagine all the seasoned travelers must roll their eyes at us first-time travelers and smirk.
It is most definitely time for a sitdown and plan a realistic trip.
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