Help with 14 night Sicily Trip

May 31st, 2006, 01:52 PM
  #1  
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Help with 14 night Sicily Trip

I am trying to put together a 14-night itinerary for Sicily in September. I have already gotten some helpful feedback. We are flying into Catania and out of Palermo. I wish we had more time. We would love to see the Aeolian Islands, but it does not seem to fit into our plans.

Our hotel budget is 150 – 275 Euros. We love rooms with balconies that are close to restaurants. We usually like the nicest room in a 3 or 4 star, rather than a basic room in a 5 star, if that makes sense. We love to sight-see, our own driving tours, meet locals, snorkel if possible and of course, eat!

How does this look…

3 nights Taomina – Villa Fabbiano or Villa Belvedere
Tour Taomina/Castelmola/GeoExplorer Tour of Etna

Pick up Car

3 nights Siracusa – Domus Mariae or Hotel Gutkowski
Tour Siracusa/Baroque Towns Noto, Ragusa etc.

1 night Agrigento – Hotel with view of ruins - Suggestions?
Via Piazza Amerina
Tour Valla de Templi the next morning

3 nights Selinute – Hotel Alceste
Tour Selinute/Tour West Coast to Mozia

1 night Castellamare del Golfo – Hotel Al Madarig
Via Segesta and Erice

3 nights Palermo – Massimo Plaza Hotel
Via Monreale Cathedral
Drop off car
Tour Palermo 2 full days

Any advice would be appreciated.
easygoer is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 02:15 PM
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Suggestion for Agrigento:

Camere con Vista. You can find it on the web. There is another thread today on Fodor's singing it's praises. (I stayed there, too, and join the singing.)


I'm not quite sure I understand your plans for your car your last days, when you are visiting Palermo. I would only suggest that you get rid of your car as soon as you can. I used mine to visit Monreale, and that's fine -- although be prepared for VERY slow going anywhere around Palermo.

But in general, you don't want to be driving anywhere near Palermo. I love driving in Italy, I love Sicily, and I love Sicilians, but the driving habits in Palermo will really shock you. It's totally lawless and reckless. In the rest of Sicily, drivers take amazing risks passing on blind curves. (Resist the temptation to try it, too. I saw 2 accidents in Sicily, something I'd not seen elsewhere in Italy).

Anyway, if need be, you can get a bus to Monreale.

I was so in love with the Baroque towns -- my favorite part of Sicily -- I'm tempted to suggest you squeeze time out of the northwest to give you a night or two there, but I've not been to the northwest so I really can't be sure that advice is correct. Just realize that it may be a very long day trip to the Baroque towns.



nessundorma is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 02:38 PM
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Hi Nessundorma, we are dropping off our car after visiting Monreale Cathedral, on the way from Castellemarre del Golfo. We will be walking in Palermo.

I have been tweaking this itinerary a few times. We could eliminate Castellemarre del Golfo and add an extra night in the Barque area. Where would you suggest?
easygoer is offline  
May 31st, 2006, 03:03 PM
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I had a marvelous stay in Modica in an inexpensive but exquistite B&B called L'Orangerie, which has an incredible restaurant just underneath it, called Fattoria delle Torri. You can find L'Orangerie on the web. If you book, get good driving directions.

I also would have been tempted to stay in Ragusa Ibli, where I ate lunch.

Driving to and from the Baroque towns from Siracusa will be wearing, especially if you are staying in Ortygia. The road connecting Siracusa to Noto, et al., is poor, and heavily trafficked by slow-moving trucks. The drive between Noto and Modica is beautiful; the towns themselves are fun to walk around and full of gastronomic treats.

Like the rest of Italy, Sicily is full of marvelous attractions. It's really hard to choose among them. I envy you your September trip, when the harvest will be in.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 03:03 AM
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Hello again,
My only comment this time is the Hotel Alceste. Given the type of hotel you like, I am not certain that this one will be to your liking. It is a very basic hotel that seemed rather dingy to me. There are only three rooms with sea views and we stayed in one of them. The sea was in the distance and the view was between two buildings. As I had mentioned, this is the hotel that ran out of breakfast at 7:45 and we were taken to a hotel across the street. It was a more modern hotel with an unobstructed view of the sea from the top floor breakfast area.

I remember seeing signs for a 4 star in the area but don't recall the name and have not heard it mentioned on this forum.

Bottom line, I suggest you try to improve on your hotel choice in Selinunte, if there is another option.

Have fun.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 03:18 AM
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If you decide to drop a night to give more time to the Baroque towns, which are indeed lovely, then I would suggest that it be from Selinunte. The archeological area at Selinunte is quite wonderful, more evocative and far less crowded than the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, but in my opinion, the west coast doesn't really deserve three days if you are only giving two to Palermo, where there is so much to see.

While I haven't yet stayed at Castellamare al Golfo, I plan to do so the next time I am in Sicily, after hearing the owner of the B&B where I stayed in Palermo describe the splendid sunset views from her house there.
Eloise is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for all of the helpful information, especially the advice about Hotel Alceste. I got a couple of more guide books and will do my homework. It's so hard to figure out how much time to spend in one area, or how much time traveling from one place to another. In some ways, I like to have reservations in Taomina, Siracusa and Palermo and wing it the rest of the way. I started with Bob the Navigator's itinerary and have changed it a few times already.

If we stay in the Baroque towns for two nights, do we need 3 nights in Siracusa?
easygoer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 02:17 PM
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It's so hard to answer some of the questions you are asking! I have been to many spectacular Italian seaside locations, so Taormina and Ortygia didn't seem as special to me as they no doubt do to others. Taormina is very touristy but has a fantastic Greek theater, and Ortygia has a lovely church constructed out of the ruins of a Greek temple -- which may be under renovation and scaffolding right now -- and certainly a lot of authentic Sicilian life despite some "boutique" aspects from the tourist trade. But to me the best part of the area was the Siracusa ruins themselves, and I am sorry I did not leave enough time to see the archeological museum.

If this 14-day trip is part vacation, you certainly don't want to skip on relaxing by the sea and appreciating the famous sights and treasures. But if you are curious about Sicily, both its past and its present, I think leaning toward the slightly less-touristed areas is a good idea -- especially since in a few years they are likely to be much more touristy.

If you are loving being in Siracusa/Ortygia, you don't have to leave until late in the day to go to your next destination. So if you book yourselves into 2 nights in the Baroque towns, you still can linger if you like. However, if you feel sort of blah about Siracusa, you can head out early for the Baroque towns and go more slowly there.

Hope that helps.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 02:40 PM
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Are any of the...

"have been to many spectacular Italian seaside locations"

on Sicily? Am I missing a beautiful seaside local area? We have been to the Amalfi Coast and the Cinque Terre. They are the reason we are trying Sicily. 360 degrees of sea.
easygoer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 04:17 PM
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Well, Taormina has been famous for its spectacular position over the sea for 25 centuries -- and it's got smoking Etna as a backdrop to top it off!

Ortygia is a very easy-to-like place, with an easy going atmosphere -- and that just about exhausts my knowledge. (I was in Mondello, near Palermo, but that doesn't merit a look.)

I've never been to the Aeolian Islands, which I hope to do on my next trip to Sicily, but I've seen movies of some of those places, and they seem otherworldly.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 04:43 PM
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Try looking at Baglio Oneto in Marsala. We stayed at this hotel in April and loved it. It is not in Marsala proper but on the outskirts. We found it to be a great location to take day trips to Tripani, Erice, Egodi islands and Segesta and Selinunte.

The hotel is 2 years old and has a winery attached to it. Our room was huge with a sitting room attached 150E/night. The staff was very helpful when needed.

They have a resaurant and pool. Great breakfast!

Check it out at this website: www.framonhotels.com
grosenb is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Eloise
What was the name of the B&B you stayed at in Palermo? and did you like it?
Donna
Donna_Dave is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 07:01 PM
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Oh my! Baglio Oneto in Marsala looks perfect for us. How many nights did you stay in the area? Thanks grosenb.

I am an avid believer in the planning is half the fun, or more.

Has anyone stayed at their sister hotel, Hotel Villa Sant' Andrea in Taomina? It looks lovely but is it too far out of town?

We love sightseeing, people and local restaurants, as well as fine food within walking distance. We are not beach sitters. Although we love to snorkel.

Thanks to all for the help.
easygoer is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 07:23 PM
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Easygoer, We stayed 3 nights and by far it was the best hotel for size of room, value and location.

We also stayed at Villa Fabbiano in Taormina. It is about a 5 minute walk to the main drag. Our room again was a good size with a sitting area and small balcony.

I would not recommend staying in one the Baroque towns. They are very quiet and appear to close up early. Expect scaffolding on the all the important churches too.

You will love Sicily!

Gail
grosenb is offline  
Jun 1st, 2006, 09:38 PM
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Gail,

Did you only go to Noto? There is no scaffolding on the major churches in Modica, nor any that I recall in Ragusa Ibli.

Where did you stay overnight in the Baroque towns? What kind of nightlife were you looking for?
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 05:26 AM
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Donna,
An interesting B&B in Palermo is AI Catari. It is in the historical area which has it pros and cons, but we would stay there again because of its uniqueness, spaciousness, privacy, easy access to everything. There are several reviews on trip advisor so I won't repeat, but if you have questions let me know. They have a website: aicatari.it and google translates the page.

Just in case anyone is interested, there is no number on the door but it is directly opposite the Church of Francesco d'Assisi and breadfast passes are given for the famous restaurant in the church square. The waiters at this restaurant had to show us which bell to ring. Ask the owner where to park while you unload your bags as it is on a side street around the corner. The private entrance to the B&B suite is on this street. I am adding this last paragraph as we did not have the information and it would have been helpful if we did know these details.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 05:57 AM
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It is so interesting how people have different preferences.

We really liked Modello, but that was probably because we were there in April and the cliff near the beach and old tuna factory was ablaze with wildflowers and the sea was bright blue with giant rock outcroppings. We did not walk down to the beach, but did walk along the cliff above it.

As far as the baroque towns, after having seen so many in years of traveling to various parts of Europe, I have grown weary of meandering through more so we chose not to go to Noto, Ragusa and Modica and was satisfied with the other baroque architure we had already seen in Sicily. I am certain they are grand. I only mention this to demonstrate how wonderful Sicily is as it can satisfy so many individual preferences.
evelyntrav is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 06:04 AM
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I was also in Mondello in April but I was right on the beach, which is rather shabby, but has great food nonetheless.

One of the things that makes the baroque towns of Sicily so appealing is the pink stone that was used in constructing the buildings. But for Modica especially, it is just terrific to be in this very prosperous and sophisticated but somewhat remote-from-the-world Italian town that has its own Sicilian culture and rhythms, and of course this terrific food. And the historic countryside surrouding Modica and Noto is simply beautiful.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 08:26 AM
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Donna,

You will find it easier to find the Web site of Ai CaRtari if you spell it correctly, with two R's. Also, if I remember correctly, the Web site is also in English.

The B&B where I stayed is the Palazzo Amari Bajardi; you can Google it. It's in Old Palermo, with all that that entails: The street it is on looks a little grungy to North American eyes, but all that disappears when you are inside - with the possible exception of some street noise. There is no elevator, but there is a Filipino houseboy who will carry up your luggage. It's very nicely appointed, and Signora Giacona is very gracious and hospitable, even if her English is somewhat limited. Breakfast is Sicilian - various rolls and sweet pastries - but there is freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh fruit in season. It's within a few hundred yards of Quattro Canti, the traditional center of Old Palermo, and everything you would want to see is within walking distance, if you do not object to walking a bit. (To Monreale, you have to take a bus.) I've stayed at Palazzo Amari Bajardi twice and plan to go back.

Easygoer,

I met an Australian couple two weeks ago in Siracusa, who found the Villa Sant'Andrea lovely. I was in Taormina (for the second time) less than a week ago, and I personally would prefer - if I wanted to stay overnight, which I probably would not - to be in Taormina itself rather than below the town in Taormina Mare. I've not stayed there, but the Villa Belvedere has an excellent reputation.

The façade of the Duomo in Siracusa was covered in scaffolding when I was there, but the interior was open. The Siracusans whom I was visiting said that the scaffolding was supposed to come down in September, but I wouldn't count on it. At least you will see the Teatro greco in its original state rather than covered with grey wooden seating for the season of Greek tragedies that takes place from mid-May to the end of June. The archeological museum has some interesting pieces, but it has the most mind-boggingly confusing set-up I have ever encountered. (The archeological museum in Palermo has some important pieces - chiefly the metopes from two temples in Selinunte - and is blessedly easy to navigate.) Caravaggio's "Burial of Santa Lucia" has been returned to the church for which it was created, Santa Lucia al Sepolcro, which is not on Ortygia but on the "mainland".
Eloise is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2006, 01:13 PM
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Why would you speel ai cartari with two R. One is enough:
http://www.aicartari.it/
tancredi is offline  

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