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I'm getting mixed messages about Sicily - please help me out!

I'm getting mixed messages about Sicily - please help me out!

Jul 8th, 2003, 02:48 PM
  #1  
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I'm getting mixed messages about Sicily - please help me out!

We are planning our honeymoon for October and Sicily has been on the top of our short list. We are attracted to Sicily because we both love Italy (the people, food, history), it is somewhere new for both of us, we have the time (at least 2 weeks) on this trip to explore a bit slower and more in depth then we usually do and we were hoping for somewhere with both relaxation and interesting sights. Now that I am doing more research and reading the threads on this board and my guidebooks, I am having second thoughts.

We don't expect our destination to be absolutely pristine and we don't want to spend a fortune so we aren't expecting the absolute best in hotels, restaurants, etc. but it seems like a lot of people have mentioned that parts of the island are pretty overbuilt or unattractive, that the hotels and service in general aren't great and that, in general, Sicily might not be as tourist-friendly as one would hope. I wouldn't want to rule it out just because there are a few imperfections. For instance, I am very fond of Lisbon which many people don't like because it is a bit dirty, etc. But if we are looking for a destination to relax, enjoy some natural beauty, soak up the culture and have fun exploring, do you think Sicily fits the bill. I am interested in hearing people's experiences. thanks in advance.
Sally30 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 03:05 PM
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I would look into staying at a Agratourismo (sp) farm stay in Sicily. Just search for apartments in Sicily nad a bunch will come up.
Here are a few.....
www.autoplanhols.co.uk/sicily.htm
www.casaspasia.com/english/home.htm
vacanze-sicilia.adv-italy.it/rent-houses-apartments-sicily.html
JandaO is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 04:10 PM
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Sally, I would not hesitate to visit Sicily for your honeymoon. My husband and I spent two weeks there last OCtober and found that the attractions, food and people more than made up for whatever poor civic planning or ugly apartment houses we occasionally encountered. We rented a villa just outside of Siracusa and used it as a base to explore much of the eastern half of Sicily--from Messina to Agrigento. Just go!
DonnaD44 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 04:20 PM
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Sicily is amazing!!! Yes there are certainly ugly parts, but there is also so much beauty. There is so much culture to soak up, as well as scenery. Perhaps if this is really a concern to you, you can just stick to the really "pretty" areas, Taormina, Ortygia, and even though I have not been there, Lipari. I would say it is slightly off the beaten track as opposed tp other destinations in Italy, but do loads of research and you will be fine!!! We had so much fun exploring all the archaeological sites. It was quite an adventure!!!
AP6380 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 05:35 PM
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If you like Italy you will find Sicilia to be similar but more basic and intense. Do not miss Taormina--an ideal honeymoon destination. I would try to include Lipari as well, but that depends on time of year.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 06:46 PM
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We are going in October. If we want to go to the Aeolian islands, which would you recommend? Is it good to stay over night there? Also, how is the driving in Sicily? Are the roads well marked? We expect to be driving all over the island (maybe fly into Palermo and out of Catania). Any suggested itineraries for a 12 night stay. We want go to the Aeolian islands, Taormina, visit Mount Etna. see a few small towns and take in some ancient sites. We hope to only change hotels a few times during the stay.
Sally30 is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 08:54 PM
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Sicily is very different from the rest of Italy. When I was talking to people and reading about it before our 2 1/2 week trip there, I also got mixed reviews...people either loved it or hated it. I have to say that my husband and I were split, he loved it and I probably wouldn't want to return. That said, it is a beautiful place,lots of beautiful beach areas, incredible ruins. We visited the Aeolian Islands also in October, and they were sort of slow, maybe 1/2 the hotels were closed for the season already...they are beautiful, but there is not much to see or do there...which can be a good or bad thing depending on you. Taormina was my husbands favorite town and we stayed there one week, taking visits to Mt Etna, some very cool gorge, which name escapes me, and many days by the pool or at the beaches. Siracusa was my favorite, a real little town where locals live and go out, try to stay on the little peninsula called Ortygia. The roads were extremly well marked and easy to drive. I'm talking about the main highways...we had read that the driving was difficult... there were absolutely no problems, go for it. A word about agratourismo...I think that they are a great way to stay, but not IMO in Sicily. We had reservations at a lovely one and were going to spend 4 nights, but it was in the middle of nowhere, and may I add that alot of the middle of Sicily IS the middle of nowhere. We would have spent too much time going to other places and only returning for dinner and sleep, and I think that there are better locations to base yourself.
Have a great time.
susanna is offline  
Jul 8th, 2003, 09:19 PM
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Have you thought about Greece?? We just got back from our 2nd trip there & it is very reasonably priced-people are friendsly-food fresh & good. Just a thought Chris
BeniciaChris is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 03:00 AM
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Sally,

I wholeheartedly recommend Sicily! It's not a pristine destination, but there are so many great things to see, do and eat that the positives far outnumber the negatives!

I don't know if you've seen my (incomplete) trip report, but it might be helpful in planning your itinerary - with 12 days in October, I would probably skip the Aeolians.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...2&tid=34431208

Perhaps the hotel reviews will help as well. I should have my detailed trip description on line sometime this weekend.

Hope this helps,
Andre
Andre is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 05:00 AM
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My report may be helpful for ideas:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34412340

AP6380 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 05:06 AM
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AllI can say is "Go!". I've been twice and it's fantastic!

Click on my name here and look for my trip report from May, or go to my web page and read my journal and see the photos.
http://www.wired2theworld.com

Have fun!
Kristina is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 05:23 AM
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I would pick Sicily over Greece any day. We spent 14 days a year ago and really loved it. DON"T DRIVE IN PALARMO. The rest of the country has good road signs. The signs disappear in towns so we were always lost in town, but it was interesting.
Taomina was romatic and so is the valley of the temples. The ruins are lite at night and with a moon, wonderful. Lipari was a good day trip. We did stay in an agratourismo, but it was far out of town. It was very nice, we tried to find more, but the spots didn't work out.
We stayed in a lot of different places and rooms. Every place from $40 to $90 were very clean. Not much English spoken. We went completly around the island at leisurely pace and the museums and ruins were great and so is the hilly terrain.
When getting anything ask the price or you might get surprise (high) can be worked out otherwise.
People were very nice and tried to work with our non Italian.
judya is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 07:34 PM
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Thanks for the responses and the two links to the Sicily threads. I think (if we do go) we may skip the Aeolian Islands. Susanna, what was it about Sicily that you didn't like? I am just curious as I wonder if the same things would bother me.

Any helpful hints on an itinerary that allows us to see a lot (with some time built in for relaxing) but where we would only have to change hotels about 3 times? We know that we would like to stay in Taormina for a few days - maybe relax one day, see Mount Etna another. Do you think we could swim in October? We have about 12 days to spend in Sicily and we will spend a few days at the beginning of the end of the trip in Rome. We can fly in and out of different cities in Sicily so as to not backtrack.

Also, any hotel suggestions for Taormina? Andre, thanks for the info in your trip report. Our budget is about $150/night but would be happy to get some less expensive hotels and splurge sometimes too. If none of the hotels are that great in Sicily, we could save our splurge for Rome (or use more money for eating).I am not very interested in agrotourisme on this trip, although I have traveled that way before, if the places are out of the way and too rustic for a honeymoon when we want to feel somewhat pampered.

A few driving questions - how bad is it? how much does it cost to rent an automatic car for a week? we both have BAD senses of direction. are we in trouble?

Thanks!
Sally30 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2003, 08:57 PM
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Ciao Sally30.....I will tell you what I didn't like, but I am not trying to change your mind from going, and my husband LOVED it. I am Italian and my father's family is from Sicily so maybe I had bigger expectations than some. I also am from San Francisco and I love a big city, Rome being my favorite and Milan coming in a close second for shopping. That said, Sicily doesn't have that big city feel, even in Palermo. (Hotel Massimo, great) I felt that everything was at the coasts and once you went inland there was just a big, dry expanse of land, that was pretty uninteresting to me, so we kept going back to beach towns, which my husband loved doing. We were there in October 2001, the weather was great for swimming in the ocean or a pool, maybe 78 degrees. We also spent about 2 1/2 weeks there, for me it was tooooo long. The greek ruins are fabulous, but there are a lot that looked similiar, they didn't have a lot of different archetects! They started to look all the same to me. I grew tired of the food, spada,spada,spada (swordfish). We probably just spent a little too long there. We went to the Aeolian Islands, and if I felt that Sicily was remote, the Islands were even more remote, which for someone else could be ideal.
Itenerary: Palermo 3 days Aeolian Islands 2 days Taormina 5 days (Hotel Belvedere, simple rooms,great pool/view, nice people) Siracusa 3 days(Hotel Gran Britianna, newly renovated) from which you can make day trips to Ragusa, Piazza Armarina(sp)I would pick a small beach town on the southern side and visit Agrigento/Selinunte. I did not enjoy the town of Agrigento...maybe Sciacia or Marinella. I hope this helps and I hope you go and love it and have a great honeymoon!!!
susanna is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 03:01 AM
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Being that you have these concerns, and that it's your honeymoon (so you want things to go as smoothly as possible) perhaps you could base yourself in Palermo and Taormina. There's a good range of accomodations available in both locations, and you can take organized bus trips to all the sites of interest to you. GAC has posted manay times a link to the company that organizes these tours out of Palermo & Taormina, maybe he can post it again or I'll find it tonight & post it.
AP6380 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 03:37 AM
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found it

http://www.compagniasicilianaturismo.it/

you can e-mail and ask questions, they wtite back. This would also avoid the need for a rental car. I consider myself as having a decent sense of direction and got lost a lot.
AP6380 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 03:51 AM
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The most expensive thing about car rental in Sicily is the car insurance.
The west side of Sicily is just miles of grape vines. This is near Marsala. Good wine.
As I said we didn't spend $150 per night any where. We stayed in some great places and some not so great, but all were spotless. We stayed at the beach near the Valley of the Temples, because the other hotels were full. The beach was dirty, but the eating places where fun.
judya is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 03:52 PM
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I don't know how you could ever tire of the food in Sicily. We had something different every meal(15 day stay)and loved it all. Taormina is nice for a honeymoon. We also stayed at the Hotel Belvedere and thought it was lovely. Beautiful views and nice pool. I agree with most posters about everything except about the food.
judyrose is offline  
Jul 10th, 2003, 08:25 PM
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Splurge (even for just one night) and stay at the San Dominico Palace in Toarmina. Ask for a room with terrace overlooking the sea. You will remember it a long long time.
johnc is offline  
Jul 11th, 2003, 03:46 AM
  #20  
 
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Hi there,

I suggest you to spend your honeymoon in the island of Procida. www.procida.net It's the place were the the films The Talented Mr Ripley and Il Postino were filmed. It's beautiful, cheaper than Sisily, no tourists, food heavenly good, people are nice and the sea is beautiful!
sannina is offline  

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