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It's SICILY for our special trip--thoughts/suggestions on the first draft

It's SICILY for our special trip--thoughts/suggestions on the first draft

Aug 9th, 2009, 07:41 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
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Sicily is a wonderful destination .
My husband and I stayed at the villa schuler and highly recommned it.
They have a wraparound terrace that overlooks Mt Etna. and spectacualer gardens It is also easy walking distance to an Domenico Palace - we stopped for a drink in the hotel bar just to take a peek > you will be able to relax, visit the main floor and gardens
For Siracusa look into Agriturismo hotels We stayed at "Limoneto" the cost typically requires 1/2board and at dinner we met people from Australia, England, Madrid and a couple from Bologna on their honeymoon We talked and shared travel stories to the wee hours.
You may look into Agriturisomo hotels for other locations in Sicily.

A must see is the Villa of Casale in Enna. A town that is en route from Taormina to Agrigento.It is a roman villa dating back 700 years. the outstanding feature is the 3,500 square meters of mosaics that decorated the floors of teh villa.

Sorry no hotel suggestions for Palermo We were fortunate enough to stay with family in Carini a town very close to palermo .

Be sure to visit Monreale the cathedral is decorated in 18 carate mosaic tiles Truly spectacular
diguiseppi is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 08:04 AM
  #22  
 
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"the Villa of Casale in Enna" - the Villa Casale has wonderful mosaics, but it's not in Enna. The nearest town is Piazza Armerina, there's an agriturismo just outside (www.torrerenda.it/intro/index_eng.htm)

For Siracusa I would not stay in an agriturismo, but on the island of Ortigia - although I'm rather upset by dutyfree's news - when last year, dutyfree? I was there in April last year and it was still magical then.
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Aug 9th, 2009, 11:23 AM
  #23  
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Thanks, morningstar, dutyfree, thursdaysd, and diguiseppi, for all that useful information! Morningstar, while the Villa Carlotta's decor looked light and fresh on the website, the Wagner's looked a bit heavy. Was it ok? And I promise we won't leave Modica without our chocolate.
It sounds like we won't be getting to Ortigia a moment too soon. From everything I've read and you all have told me, I know I'm going to like it. I appreciate the enthusistic thumbs up on the Roman mosaics. The Villa Casale will be a daytrip from Modica and will take special effort on my part to get there. The Decider (my husband) and I sat down with the map yesterday to finalize the itinerary which will be Taormina (3 nights), Ortigia (2), Modica (4), Selinunte (3), and Palermo (3). I wanted to build in enough days so that we never feel rushed and figure we can always move on should we get bored with any one place.
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 9th, 2009, 11:35 AM
  #24  
 
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I suppose I can't convince you to make it Taormina (2) and Ortigia (3)? After you've admired the view, visited the Greek theater and the gardens, and gone up to Castelmola, there's noting to do in Taormina except shop. And beach time, I suppose, I'm not a beach person. Or are you using it as a base for Mt. Etna?
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Aug 9th, 2009, 02:06 PM
  #25  
Ian
 
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We were in Ortygia in late May & walked through the bustling market. It is in behind the Tempio di Appolo. There certainly wasn't any construction. And Ortygia spoiled? No, it is not. There are a lot of renos underway in town but we loved it.

I agree with thursdaysd that 2 nights in Taormina was enough.

Another option for Modica is Le Magnolie Hotel. Excellent & only one flight of stairs & a small hill up from Corso Umberto.

see http://members.rennlist.com/imcarthur/sicily.htm

Ian
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Aug 9th, 2009, 05:45 PM
  #26  
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Well, I won't be able to say you guys didn't warn me if we wind up staring at the walls in Taormina after 2 nights. I'm just about to begin investigating flights and will see when we'd actually arrive in Taormina, and I'll also check the skipping out early policy of the hotels. Getting over the rigors of the trip is a major consideration for us. Ian, Le Magnolie looks lovely; however, your description of driving into Modica was so vividly harrowing that I knew we'd best find a place with easier access and parking. Anything negative from your standpoint re Casa Talía? Also, if anyone has any first hand knowledge of the Algila Charme Hotel in Ortigia, I'd love to hear it now.
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 9th, 2009, 06:59 PM
  #27  
 
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Bon Voyage, May I suggest two books before you embark on your Sicilian adventure? THE LEOPARD by di Lampedusa, the quintessential novel of Sicily which I have read three time in the past six years. I envy you the experience of reading this masterpiece for the first time. Also, STONE BOUDOIR by Theresa Maggio, an American who retraces her family’s roots in Sicily.
What an amazing place! Enjoy.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 08:12 PM
  #28  
 
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Bon Voyage, the parking at Talia is no problem, as I remember - you just can't drive right up to the door. I'm not positive but I think they had a space reserved for guests. We never had trouble when we were parking up there on the upper level where Talia is. Down below, in the main part of town, might be a different story.
I recommend driving in during daylight hours, because finding the place can be a bit tricky when you don't know where you're going. It certainly helps to have a cell phone on you so you can get in touch with them. When we arrived Marco came down, found us, and led us back up.
It's a piece of cake once you know where it is.
lbelgray is offline  
Aug 9th, 2009, 08:36 PM
  #29  
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Latedaytraveler, thanks for those recommendations! I've read The Leopard and will put Stone Boudoir on the list. Thank you, lbelgray, for the additional information about parking at Casa Talía. I had noticed on the map on their website that they appeared to have designated parking. We'll definitely arrive during daylight hours.
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 04:52 AM
  #30  
Ian
 
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From what I can figure out, the Talia is well up from the Corso Umberto – most things are btw – so be prepared for some hill climbing to/from the hotel. Most restaurants are either on the CU or up the hill on the Alta side.

See http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h3...dica-alto2.jpg

Your hotel will be roughly center & slightly left of the treed area. This photo was taken from the steps of San Giorgio on the Alta – which is a healthy climb up from the CU.

And be aware that Selinunte is a small, basic sleepy town. The Sogno seems to be on SS115 leading in from the hwy – not a particularly pretty area – nothing wrong with it but not scenic.

Ian
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Aug 10th, 2009, 05:17 AM
  #31  
 
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In case you cannot get your first choice-We always stayed at the Hotel Gutowski(sp?) in Ortigia which is practically next door to your choice. It `has the same wonderful views and a terrific/friendly/helpful staff. Their rooms (8 and 9,if I remember correctly/ are very romantic and overlook the water. It is a hotel that is decorated very simply(lots of whites and blues). The price is great too!It was featured last year in Budget Travel magazine as a special place to stay in Ortigia.

Ortigia is one place that I would definitely recommend staying IN TOWN because the magic appears early in the morning with the sun breaking over the water ,strolls at night along the harbor imagining the battles fought and ships sunk in ancient times or just relaxing over a coffee at the local Cafe Minerva.Be sure to take in the marionette show-great fun and beautiful old puppets every Weds. night.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 07:34 AM
  #32  
 
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Bon Voyage, to give you a little preview (and maybe help orient you if you do stay there) here are some photos from our stay at Casa Talia in Modica, as well as a few that don't show much from bb22 in Palermo.
http://s868.photobucket.com/albums/a...albumview=grid
Enjoy.
lbelgray is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 01:15 PM
  #33  
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Ian and lbelgray, thanks for the photo links. I do love the looks of Modica. It's the relatively easy parking for getting in and out of town, the garden, and the views that are selling Casa Talía. I am figuring that we can take the car and park closer to restaurants if need be. Dutyfree, we'll definitely be staying in Ortigia. Point taken re Selinunte. Right now it's sort of a place holder, may still shave a day off there.
I am now descending into flight reservations hell, trying to see what upgrade possibilities are available via American.
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 02:26 PM
  #34  
 
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Try to see Villa Carsale if you can. I enjoyed the mosaics there.
WanderingTexan is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 03:29 PM
  #35  
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Another vote for making the effort to see the mosaics--thanks, WanderingTexan!
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 03:50 PM
  #36  
 
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Some thoughts on Sicily: First, fear not the driving. In two weeks there we had no problem with the roads (much better than Amalfi!) or the style of driving we encountered. Only in old Palermo was the driving a bit nerve-wracking.

Three days in Taormina is not too many, especially as you will be just arriving. Relax and get into the pace. They have a marvelous passagiata and stunning views, day and night, over the village, the coastline and Etna.

In Siracusa, consider L’Approdo delle Sirene, which means “Siren’s Landing.” See it at www.apprododellesirene.com. I have not stayed there but have a visit planned next spring, and am looking forward to it.

A reviewer for Kee Magazine called this hotel/b&b "trendy yet refined" and said it "offers access to Sicily’s natural beauty as well as its rich architectural history. As guests step
out of the nineteenth century palazzo in which the hotel is housed, they are met, as in Venice, with a choice: stroll along Ortigia’s narrow cobblestone streets or board a boat. Private ships wait on the landing in front of the hotel ready to transport guests to the white cliffs of Sicily’s coast or around Ortigia’s historic center, where visitors can view the city’s skyline of palaces and churches just as millennia of settlers have seen it: from the sea."

I did stay at Domus Mariae and enjoyed it but somehow I think I'm going to like the Siren's Landing better.

Finally, Selinunte looked WAY too quiet for an overnight, much less several, and we easily left Agrigento, visited Selininte and Segesta, and ended in Erice, in one day.

Not sure where you are staying in Ragusa, but consider making sure you stay in medieval Ragusa Ibla, and not modern Ragusa, which lacked charm.
Geonev is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 05:05 PM
  #37  
 
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L'Approdo, that's where i stayed. I'd blanked on the name. It's totally cute, but I preferred the beautiful views on the other side. L'Approdo faces the harbor, and the others face out to sea. Stunning view.
lbelgray is offline  
Aug 10th, 2009, 05:18 PM
  #38  
Ian
 
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Since you go right by Caltagirone - it's about ½ way to the Villa Romana del Casale from Modica - you really should buzz in for a ceramics fix. Park as close as you can to the town center – the inevitable Duomo. Turn your husband & any other uninterested parties loose & tell them to bugger off & take pictures or something for 2 hrs while you peruse the shops.

If you want to beach it at all, Port Palo - just east of Selinunte - has a nice one & a great restaurant - da Vittorio's. There also was a beach visible west from the Selinunte 'town' ruins that didn't seem bad. The Med is pretty cold though but the sun will be hot.

Ian
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Aug 10th, 2009, 06:57 PM
  #39  
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Geonev, thanks for your input on Taormina and your recommendation of the Approdo in Ortigia. Ortigia clearly has a lot of appealing options. Ian, I will cut out your Caltagirone ceramic shopping instructions and paste them on the dashboard of the rental. I am getting the picture that Selinunte is not one of Sicily's beauty spots. This is admittedly the weak point in the itinerary. I like the idea of staying farther west for the fourth stop but that would make for a long day for us. We will be leaving Modica in the mid-late morning (it would take an act of God to get us out earlier), stopping in Agrigento to see the Valley of the Temples, and continuing on to Selinunte. We might be able to see the ruins at Selinunte that afternoon. Is there some really wonderful place to stay in the Trapani/Castellammare del Golfo area that could inspire us to see the ruins and press on? Otherwise, we could stay at the Villa Sogno (which gets great reviews on TA) and go to the beach (some beach time would be a nice balance), maybe check out Mazara del Vallo, and/or get up to see the salt pans and the salt museum.
bon_voyage is online now  
Aug 10th, 2009, 07:00 PM
  #40  
 
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Bon_voyage- I have been watching and reading your post and all of the wonderful information offered up by everyone. We are doing a similar trip next month, just in the opposite direction. We arrive in Palermo at 8:00 a.m. from Naples, pick up the rental car and head straight to Segesta to see it in the morning light. Then we're off to Erice and Trapani to explore and we check into Villa Sogno that night. The next day we'll hit Sciacca and Porto Paolo and lunch at Da Vittorio. We stay two nights at Villa Diana just outside Agrigento. The next day is open to whatever fancies us, hot springs in Agrigento, beach, etc. The we head inland to Piazza Armerina and Villa Casale and stay in Ragusa Ibla that night at l' Orto sul Tetto and like Ibelgray will eat at Il Duomo for what will probably be our most elegant dinner out in Italy. After that we head to Modica to explore and possibly Noto (after reading Thurdaysd's report I'm not too sure about it). We sleep that night in Ortigia at Aretusa Vacanze and finally head to Catania for our last night at Castello d' Urso Somma. I have definitely written down Ibelgray's rec's on Sappori Perdutti and L'Ancora. Casa Talia sounds absolutely lovely and Ian and Ibelgray's photos prove it. I wish you the best in planning your trip and hope to write a report about ours when we return. This site is additive and everyone is incredibly helpful and willing to offer so much.
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