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bon_voyage Jul 20th, 2010 07:13 PM

It was SICILY for our special trip
 
Grazie mille to everyone who helped me shape this wonderful trip which took place the last two weeks of June.

Here is the link to the planning thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...irst-draft.cfm

All those who said “you’ll love it” were right. Particular thanks to bobthenavigator and Ian whose trip reports convinced me that a driving vacation was indeed
possible.

Background: We’re a family of four. I recently hit the 60-year mark, my husband is in his late 70s, and our two sons are late 20s. This trip was a delayed birthday celebration. We’ve always enjoyed the thrill of the open road and have done lots of car trips, both in the U.S. and Europe, but, for the last several years, we’ve typically rented a house and used it as a base. It quickly became clear that to see as much of Sicily as we wanted would require circling the island and that would be easiest by car. The car had to be large enough to carry the four of us and our luggage comfortably, and we wanted an automatic. Many thanks also to Vagabonda on Tripadvisor’s Sicily forum, who suggested, among her many helpful comments, to rent through Autoeurope UK which saved us a lot of money. After much deliberation, we’d opted to fly non-stop on Alitalia from LA to Rome connecting on to Catania and then Palermo-Rome-LA on the return. I booked all the hotel rooms over the web. I’d taken a semester’s worth of Italian at the local community college which became increasingly useful as we moved west. We had excellent weather throughout the trip; the days were mostly sunny and warm. We also had good fortune with the euro; the exchange rate was between 1.22 and 1.24 while we were there.

Itinerary and hotels:

Taormina 3 nights Villa Carlotta
Ortigia 2 nights Algilà Charme
Modica 4 nights Casa Talía
Selinunte 3 nights Villa Sogno
Palermo 2 nights Grand Hotel Wagner
Rome 1 night Airport Hilton

On the way to LAX the limo broke down within a mile of the airport. Our resourceful driver walked back to the traffic light, flagged down a Super Shuttle, and gave the guy a 20 to take us to the airport. Whew! All this excitement, and we weren’t even on the plane yet. We had a little less than a 2-hour window between our arrival in Rome and our departure to Catania. I asked the ticket agent how likely it was that our luggage would meet us in Catania, and he asked me if we were flying through Paris. When I said “no”, he said we had a good chance of meeting up with our luggage on arrival. We were as happy with our Alitalia flight as one could be flying 12+ hours in coach and that was just leg one. The flight attendants were courteous and professional and the food was tasty. And, best of all, we didn’t need those extra clothes in our carry-ons. Everyone’s luggage was on the carousel in baggage claim.

I’d priced the cost of limousine services from the Catania airport to Taormina, and the four bids I received were all over the map. The least expensive was Sicily Life at € 75 so they got the nod. Our driver was waiting for us outside baggage claim and off we went!

Taormina:

Hotel: The Villa Carlotta (€299/room/night for a deluxe double with sea view) was tasteful, well-appointed, and just felt very comfortable. The small pool and garden added to the sense of ease. When we were shown to our rooms, we learned that the hotel had thoughtfully upgraded our sons' room at no extra charge so that they could be next to us. Off to a good start here. Breakfast, served until 10:30 a.m., set the standard for the rest of the trip—separate tables for cheeses, cured meats, dolci, scrambled eggs and bacon, cooked dishes that included eggplant and peppers, cereals, fresh juices, yogurt—and more. The wait staff were particularly warm and helpful. The weather was, we were told, uncharacteristically humid and hazy, and everyone apologized that our view of Etna from the breakfast terrace was not crystal clear. We thought the weather in Taormina was warm and a bit humid but still comfortable. The hotel was about a 10-minute walk from the Corso Umberto in the center of Taormina.

Food: We were very happy with both of our dinner choices, the Osteria Nero d’Avola and Le Naumachie. Memorable items: The blood orange salad and the dessert at Nero d’Avola. Blood orange slices, thin slices of fennel and sweet red onion, halved green olives, a sprinkle of coarse Trapani salt, olive oil, and red wine vinegar. Every bite went pop in your mouth. Dessert was cultivated and wild fresh strawberries from Mt. Etna covered with lemon granita. My husband thought that the spaghetti with clams (a favorite dish) at Le Naumachie was quite good.

Favorite spots: the Naumachie with its Roman walls and garden; the sculpture garden at the Palazzo di Santo Stefano

Summing up: Taormina is pretty and charming with a sunny disposition. It was the perfect place to recover from the journey.

The Car: We learned that for an extra € 30 Europcar would deliver the car to the Villa Carlotta saving us the taxi ride to Giardini Naxos. A pleasant British woman brought our Audi A6 which came with a very spiffy navigator. She had no tips for the navigator, saying that the last couple never could figure out how to get it to work. The boys mastered it in about half a minute. I took the wheel for this leg, and after a couple of heart-stopping turns on the road where we seemed suspended in mid-air, we made it down to the autostrada. Perhaps it’s because our home turf is Southern California where freeways come 5 lanes across and you are given no quarter, but we found most of the driving (on the flat parts, that is) in Sicily to be easy.

Ortigia:

I could feel myself coming down with a cold as we were leaving Taormina. That, together with a problem leg, slowed my pace to what my sons considered an acceptable level.

Hotel: We got into Ortigia around 2. Check-in was at 3 so we ordered some fresh-squeezed orange juice from the bar and relaxed in the little sitting area until the rooms were ready. The Algilà (€219/room/night for a classic double with a sea view) is a recently renovated palazzo with a view of the sea, albeit over a parking lot. The rooms were furnished in restful shades of cadet blue, aqua, and fawn; everything tied together. Our two rooms, while the same price, were quite different in size. We had a corner room of a good size with windows on two sides opening to Juliet balconies. In our sons’ room, there was just enough space to walk around the beds. There was not a single drawer for clothing to be had in either room. Breakfast was served until 10 and was ample—the marmalades and jams were particularly good. The white tea Bulgari bath products were a plus. This hotel turned out to be a good but not great choice.

Food: One hit and one miss for dinner. The hit our first night’s choice, Ancora. I had the shellfish soup which was chock full of mussels and different types of clams in a delicious broth. The second night in Ortigia was a Saturday night and our first choice, the Don Camillo, was completely booked. Perhaps because the Green Guide was at the ready and a couple of our other guide books also recommended it, we wound up at the Darsena. My older son came out best with the grilled fish. The meal wasn’t terrible but we can’t recommend the Darsena.

Best experiences: I found the many layers of the many civilizations to be one of the most captivating aspects of Sicily and few places embody that as concretely as Ortigia’s Duomo which incorporates the columns of the ancient Temple to Athena. We had the good fortune that Caravaggio’s Madonna dell’Itria was temporarily housed in the little Chiesa di Santa Lucia just next to the Duomo. Enjoyed exploring Ortigia’s atmospheric alleyways. My favorite item from the Archeological Park and the Museum was the 6th century B.C. sculpture of the mother-goddess with the Platonically ideal lap nursing the twins.

A find: In the hunt for some additional reading material, I found The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest in paperback at the Libreria Gabo.

Unexpected treat: As we were leaving the Duomo, I saw a woman all dressed up and asked her if something special was happening. She told me that there was to be a wedding at 5 o’clock. That was just an hour away so we spent some time wandering the warren of little streets near the Fonte Aretusa and returned to have a drink at the Gran Caffè del Duomo at quarter til 5 to await the arrival of the wedding party. While we weren’t sure what the protocol was, here’s what appeared to happen: The parents of the bride and groom and perhaps other members of the wedding party waited at the top of the Duomo’s stairs for the bride and groom to arrive. The bride and groom appeared in a vintage white convertible (one of those with a very long hood, as carriage-like as a car could be). The parents acknowledged the arrival of the couple and then entered the cathedral. The bride and groom then alighted from the car, walked up the steps together, and entered the Duomo.

On the way to Modica: Villa Romana del Tellaro and Noto’s Caffè Sicilia:

On the fence before the trip began, I now knew that I wasn’t going to make the 4-hour roundtrip journey from Modica to Piazza Armerina to see the relatively few rooms that were open at the Villa del Casale. There was another option available, however: the Villa Romana del Tellaro just a few miles from Noto. The Villa del Tellaro has four large mosaics; the hunting scene and the depiction of the weighing of Hector’s body were particularly dramatic. This site is easy to get to and well worth a stop. Its intimate scale and the sense that it’s a little off the beaten path make finding it feel like an adventure.

On to Noto and a pilgrimage stop, the Caffè Sicilia: After wending our way up to the town, we found a parking space in a small lot just a couple of blocks away from the Cathedral. It was a Sunday, undoubtedly a huge help. The granite at Caffè Sicilia lived up to their billing. Our order was two lemon, one coffee, and one coffee and almond. The woman who was helping us recommended that we eat it with a brioche. Perfetto. Granite polished off, we walked the few steps to take in the Cathedral which made a lovely picture against the blue sky and white clouds. We liked the feel of Noto and could have spent more time there.

Modica:

Hotel: The navigator was essential to get to the Casa Talía. Otherwise, Marco will guide you in by phone. The Casa Talía is a collection of little stone houses brought back to life as very special bed and breakfast by Marco and Viviana, a pair of talented architects from Milan. Once there we were greeted by Viviana. Our rooms were Mediterraneo and Agave (€150/room/night). We had some initial concern about the number of stairs required to get to breakfast and the garden, but we quickly adapted. My husband’s comment: “A creative architect with a real aesthetic sense designed this.” Sitting up in bed, the San Giorgio Cathedral was perfectly framed in the glass doorway leading to our terrace. Our room had no drawer space but did have a wrought iron clothes rack with a long low shelf and the suitcases became drawers. Somehow that felt like a workable solution. Breakfast in the garden with the panorama of Modica before us was delightful. The marmalades and preserves were homemade as were the baked sweet items. The bread from a local bakery was the best we had in Sicily.

Food: Viviana recommended Sapori Perduti for dinner, and we ate there twice on our first and last nights. The guys particularly liked this osteria which offers substantial soups and pastas and meat stews rather than fish dishes. The dish with meatballs and pasta was a big hit. The lentil soup I had the first night was excellent. Our second dinner was at I Baccanti. Don’t ask me how we wound up here. Worst meal of the trip and it was cash only. The third night we had high expectations for Torre d’Oriente, recommended by Viviana and many places on the web. The location and the room were lovely, but, alas, our dinner items were mostly misses. My husband did best with his roast lamb dish and my older son next best with fried seafood. I asked the waitress which dishes they were most famous for and ordered those. The first was the caponessa which turned out to be diced raw fish and fruit (an attempt at creativity gone awry) followed by ravioli with zucchini and little tomatoes (bland). Younger son had a seafood risotto flavored with vanilla, another miss.

We did better with food on the fly. Casa del Formaggio was recommended in one of our guidebooks. We bought salami and cheeses there and a souvenir jar of blood orange jam. We found excellent rolls for sandwiches at the panificio across the street from Rizza’s near Sapori Perduti. My granita from Caffè dell’Arte was very good and others enjoyed their gelati.

What we did: Modica was both a real working town and a destination, the perfect place to attend to items like the laundry. Viviana gave us a recommendation for a lavanderia in Modica Bassa and that became the first morning’s fun task. First, we had to find parking and figure out how to pay for it. Then we had to find the lavanderia and communicate what we needed. Very enjoyable and satisfying to engage with others and learn the ins-and-outs of a new environment. On another day we went in search of the Chiesa San Nicola Inferiore, the rock church behind San Pietro with its frescoes and later wandered through the area near Casa Talía. We got to know Modica in an easy sort of way, in between errands and sightseeing.

Our third full day in Modica we set out for Ragusa. We followed the signs for Ragusa Ibla which led us on the picturesque windy road right to the old town and, by far, to the best parking lot we encountered on the trip. Ragusa Ibla is a photographer’s delight. The architecture and architectural details like those fabulous brackets below the balconies of the Palazzo Cosentini and the maiolica panels decorating the campanile of Chiesa Santa Maria dell’Itria—it’s all a feast for the eyes. There was pretty needlework to be had and many stores with foodstuff. Ragusa Ibla was a perfect place to spend the day and an interesting counterpoint to Modica because, while lovely, it didn’t feel completely alive and real. We hope it continues to flourish because it is beautiful.

To be continued …

SeaUrchin Jul 20th, 2010 10:55 PM

Thanks for this report, I am looking forward to the rest. I think next year it is back to Sicily for me. I need to see more of this island.

kfusto Jul 21st, 2010 01:43 AM

Bookmarking.

jamikins Jul 21st, 2010 01:47 AM

We are heading to Sicily next June so I am bookmarking to read tonite!

zeppole Jul 21st, 2010 02:49 AM

bon voyage,

How much of the scaffolding is down in Noto? DId you see any?

I'm glad you were able to experience the aliveness of Modica, among the prettiest non-touristed towns I know of in Italy. I'm sorry you didn't get to the right restaurants. I had a knock-out meal at Fattoria delle Torri at Vico Napolitano, 14, in case anybody else is inspired by your report to base in Modica. It is attached to a lovely B&B called L'Orangerie.

http://www.lorangerie.it/fattoria_delle_torri.htm

bon_voyage Jul 21st, 2010 09:03 AM

Oh, you lucky people who are headed to Sicily!

Zeppole, we saw no scaffolding as we walked the two blocks to Caffè Sicilia--none on the Cathedral which was gorgeous with the blue sky and white clouds behind it.

Our hit rate on dinner in Modica didn't dim our affection for the town. Everyone we encountered was friendly and helpful, and our stay at Casa Talía gave us a feel for living in a neighborhood.

TDudette Jul 21st, 2010 09:17 AM

Super report. So glad all going well so far in your report.

FYI, we flew from Baltimore to London to Rome to Palermo. London connection late and we had 20 minutes to make the Palermo plane and did by hotfooting it though the Roma airport. Our luggage arrived! Also Alitalia.

More, please!

bon_voyage Jul 21st, 2010 04:39 PM

TDudette, 20 minutes for the connection and your luggage arrived. You really were lucky. Final installment should be done in a few days.

Mimar Jul 21st, 2010 06:57 PM

Enjoying your report.

But, for others planning a trip to Sicily, I just want to say that the mosaics at the villa at Tellaro are in no way comparable to those at Casale (near Piazza Armerina). Neither in quality and definitely not in quantity. We saw both last fall. Not everything at Casale was open. But there was maybe 20 times the area that we saw at Tellaro, and all of the very highest quality. In fact the best I've seen, out of maybe 6 or 7 other examples of Roman mosaics.

There's a reason why Casale is a World Heritage Site.

Incidently we lunched at La Ruota, a restaurant just down the road from the villa at Casale. Pleasant outdoor terrace, nice grounds, very good food.

bon_voyage Jul 21st, 2010 07:23 PM

Grazie, Mimar. I didn't intend to suggest that Villa del Tellaro was a comparable option, but, rather an option for someone who was in the Siracusa/Noto neighborhood and wasn't going to make it to the Villa del Casale.

zeppole Jul 21st, 2010 08:24 PM

Thanks, bon voyage for the update on Noto.

helen251 Jul 24th, 2010 10:41 AM

I loved reading your trip report. I'm doing a driving trip this Sept-Oct. and noted some of your recommendations. We are using Siracusa as our main stop for Noto, Ragusa and Modina. I thought we could see them in one long day. Is that possible?

Helen

Ian Jul 24th, 2010 12:17 PM

Ummmmmmmmm. The meatball pasta soup from Sapori Perduti . . . :)

Ian

bon_voyage Jul 24th, 2010 12:38 PM

Thank you, Helen!
Now, you are asking this question of someone who spent 4 nights in Modica. That said, yes, I think it's humanly possible to see them in one very long day (check sunset times for your dates). Viamichelin is useful for routes and times. It is quick and easy to get to Noto from Siracusa. The parking in Noto looked like it could be challenging on a non-Sunday. It's also easy to get into Modica Bassa, but parking, except for the hours between 1 and 4 when the shops were closed, was tough. The road we took to Ragusa Ibla is very pretty but fairly high and windy. Once you get to Ragusa Ibla, parking is easy. There might be a tour out of Siracusa that, even though you have a car, would be worth it to eliminate the hassle factor. How many nights will you have in Siracusa?

bon_voyage Jul 24th, 2010 12:42 PM

Ian, I had your recommendation in mind when we sat down to dinner at Sapori Perduti. You and my guys share a love of that meatball pasta soup.

Ian Jul 24th, 2010 01:00 PM

I am glad it was a hit. It's a shame that Torre d’Oriente didn't live up to its potential. I am enjoying your report.

Ian

bon_voyage Jul 24th, 2010 01:28 PM

Grazie, will be pressing on shortly to Selinunte via Agrigento.

SuQue Jul 24th, 2010 02:13 PM

Terrific and very helpful report.

bon_voyage Jul 25th, 2010 04:14 PM

Continuing:

On the road to Selinunte with a brief stop at Agrigento:

We had settled into Modica and become comfortable and left it with some regret. The people we met, including those of whom we asked for information or directions, were uniformly courteous and friendly, often going out of their way to help us. Among many good memories: the panoramic view of the Modica Alta at different times of the day punctuated by church bells; our across the ‘street’ neighbors at Casa Talía, a pair of older gentlemen who often kept each other company and helped me get the car turned around in their little courtyard. But more adventures beckoned and by 11 am we were off for Agrigento, my husband at the wheel.

There is an especially high, windy, narrow part of the E45, and the curve with the car-sized hole in its low stone guard wall is indelibly etched in my mind. Looking back at the squiggles on the map, I think it’s the stretch before Comiso. It was slow through Gela, and then we were back on the open road. As we were cruising along on the autostrada, suddenly up on a ridge in the distance we could see the Temple of Concord in profile. We got to the Valle dei Templi a little before 2 and figured it was now or never for lunch. In hindsight, this would have been a good day to pack a lunch. We then found the dirt road to the rutted parking lot under the trees (surprisingly, the most primitive parking lot of the trip). We paid our parking fee to the man at its entrance and hoped for the best with the luggage left in the wagon.

We had time only to see the Temple of Concord, not enough time to give this site its due. The Temple is in remarkably good shape—the fluting on some of the columns looked like it was carved yesterday—and it cannot take a bad picture. We paid the extra €2/person to walk around inside. I did find the looming presence of the town of Agrigento, as well as the new sculptures placed in the Temple, to detract from the experience. I suspect that the more one got immersed in the site, the more the presence of the town would fade into the background. My younger son had been to Sicily previously and had seen all of the ancient sites in detail so it was not as much of a loss for him.

We left Agrigento around 4:30 p.m. and made good time to the Villa Sogno which was located on the SS 115 DR, about equidistant between Castelvetrano and Marinella di Selinunte.

Hotel: The building that is now the Villa Sogno was constructed in the early part of the 1900s and restored in 2006. Its owners, Cinzia and Lorenzo, are clearly deeply invested in it. Because all of the rooms had only double beds, we took three rooms (€90/night/double occupancy; €70/night/single occupancy). Our room on the first floor had a little balcony with a table and two chairs and a lovely view of the garden and pool area whose perimeter was surrounded by an extensive grove of olive trees. We preferred the simpler decors of our other hotels, but everything at the Villa Sogno was immaculate and well cared for. Breakfast was served until 9:45 a.m. in a glass-walled room on the ground floor which looked out to the garden. I particularly enjoyed Cinzia’s homemade marmalades and jams and her yogurt served with different types of seeds, an idea I took home with me. Unlike most of the B & Bs that we’ve frequented in the U.S., the owners here occupy and work in the public spaces.

Food: The evening we arrived we wanted something simple and easy. Cinzia suggested Baffo’s Castle which was nearby on the SS 115 DR. I enjoyed my pizza but my husband and younger son were not as satisfied with theirs, older son liked his antipasto plate. For the first and only time on the trip, we all ordered Coke, the ultimate comfort food abroad. For our other two dinners, we went into Castelvetrano and ate at Lu Disiu. Recommended by Cinzia, it is also a Tripadvisor favorite. A warm, hospitable ristorante, the food was fresh, traditional, and well-prepared. Some of our items over the two nights: the fish antipasti platter, zuppa di verdure, nero di seppia, fish of the day which was 3 perfectly sautéed little fish of different types, and pasta with bottargo di tonno. The desserts are not made in-house and were more variable. The chef, who really wants you to be happy with your meal, came out to greet us.

We had one lunch in Marinella di Selinunte at Lido di Zabbara. Overlooking the Mediterranean and steps from the sand, it had an extensive salad bar including a delicious sweet and sour eggplant dish. Pleasant and relaxing. On our second day, we went to the supermercato near the A29 and put together sandwiches from the 20+ different kinds of cured meats, the cheeses, and fresh rolls. I was in the hunt for salt from Trapani and found it here.

What We Did: It’s possible to climb about the ruins at Selinunte and we had a wonderful time doing just that. The modern world doesn’t encroach as much here as at Agrigento, and the setting of the ruins on a high plain above the sea was very evocative. It led us to muse about what would be left of our civilization in 2500 years. On our second day we set out for Segesta. That day was to have originally included Erice, but we weren’t able to leave until after lunch. At Segesta, we saw the temple and the theater, and, of the three temple sights, it is the one that has grown most in my mind. The theater had no modern trappings (unlike the theaters at Taormina and Siracusa) and its site, way up high with a view to the Golfo di Castellammare, was spectacular. The view of the temple was also best on the way down from the theater, and the two played off one another in a way that enhanced both.

I asked Cinzia for a recommendation of a place to purchase olive oil, perhaps some store in Castelvetrano. Instead, Cinzia arranged a visit for us at the Biobelice olive oil factory just outside Partanna. There we met the owner of the factory, Signore Licari, and the sales manager of his son-in-law’s wine company, Foraci. At first, they seemed to think that we had commercial interests, and I had to explain that we were solo turisti. Notwithstanding, they were completely cordial and kind and very generous with their time. We received complimentary gifts of sparkling wine and olive oil. We toasted the end of our trip with the sparkling wine in Palermo. The olive oil that we purchased at a very good price is delicious--very smooth and fresh.

Palermo:

The car was due back at the Palermo airport at 11:30 a.m., and it took about an hour to reach the airport. The autostrada here was a good road with little traffic, and we were also fortunate to be traveling on a Sunday. The Europcar car lot was staffed and one of the agents called a taxi to take us to our hotel. For Palermo, we had the remainder of this day, all of the second day, and part of the third day. Our flight left for Rome at 6 p.m. on the third day.

Hotel: The Grand Hotel Wagner (€125/room/night) turned out to be a very good choice. I liked the location on the border of both the old and new cities. It’s located one block off busy Via Roma on a quieter street and just a couple of blocks from the Via Principe di Belmonte, a pedestrian street with upscale cafès and shops. The décor does include a lot of gilt trim (we saw a woman painstakingly painting the trim outside the elevator on the lobby floor), but it felt right, like the palazzo it used to be, rather than fussy or over-the-top. Our bathroom was modern but small; our sons’ room, with its two twin beds, was larger and its bath was to scale with the bedroom. The breakfast was extensive but seemed more geared to businessmen than tourists. Jams were in little jars and yogurt in cartons. I’d guess the baked items weren’t made onsite. The orange juice was fresh. All the staff at the hotel were quite helpful and accommodating. My husband arrived just after breakfast closed at 10:30 one morning, and the waiter brought back everything from the kitchen for a complete breakfast.

Food: Few restaurants were open on Sunday. We wound up at a restaurant very near the hotel, La Cuccagna, where we got a solidly good meal. Our last night in Sicily we ate outside at Santandrea which I loved (except for the poor service) and others liked. We ordered antipasti for the table and I had the lightly seared tuna on a bed of sweet-and-sour smothered onions and carrots. Santandrea is located in a tiny piazza of the same name very near the larger Piazza San Domenico. The church is lit up in front of you, a building whose upper story is in ruin is behind, Vespas occasionally zip through, and a group of cats, including one missing a front paw, eyes your order from a distance. We had fine salads for lunch both days at the Antico Caffè Spinnato where we also enjoyed gelato and bars of pistachio, pinenut, and sesame.

Libreria: Walking from the hotel to the Palazzo dei Normanni we must have encountered at least half a dozen bookstores. We knew Palermo was our kind of town. Not only that, the bookstore on Via Cavour was open on Sunday.

Not enough time to see: I got a taste of the Ballarò but would have like to have seen more of the markets; the area around Piazza Marina and the Kalsa; and, alas, Monreale

Favorite sights/experiences: Looking up a street and seeing the mountains; the little craft stores on the Via Bara all’Olivella—I found a sweet blue and cream ceramic bowl in a shop there; everyone at the bars outside watching the World Cup; the mosaics in the Capella Palatina, in particular those around the nave from the Old Testament; the Matorana (more wonderful mosaics) and San Cataldo; the fabulous stucco decorations of Serpotta in the oratorios of Santa Cita and San Domenico

There is little signage to many of these extraordinary artistic treasures and you find them tucked away off tiny streets.

The trip home:

We left for the Palermo airport around 3--it’s about a 25 minute taxi ride--for our flight to Rome. Our flight to LAX the next day was at 9:30 a.m. I’d wanted to make this part as easy as possible by staying at the adjacent Airport Hilton. I paid for these rooms with American Airline miles converted to Hilton Honors points. The limo did not break down on the way home.

Our trip was enhanced by the exceptional friendliness and hospitality of the people. For me, Sicily is elusive. I will leave it by saying that it is layered, complex, bewitching, enduring.

lisaannmack Jul 26th, 2010 03:54 AM

We stayed at Villa Carlotta in Taormina and absolutely loved it!! Especially that delicious breakfast! What a great trip you had! Next time get to the Aeolian Islands while in Sicily


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