Navigating in Sicily---a trip report

Old Nov 12th, 2010, 09:16 AM
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Sensible advice, Bob. Thank you. Now I'll have to see if I can convince our travel companions to forgo the drive down the coast. I'll check the airfares. We have our flights in and out of FCO and we do arrive early so we could certainly do a connecting flight on to Palermo. I have not yet seen your photo gallery, but I intend to do so. DH and I recently returned from a trip to Vietnam and are just beginning our plans for the Sicily trip. He is quite the photographer and I know he is really looking forward to photographing Sicily.

Bon_voyage, I look forward to reviewing your trip report. Perhaps with a Friday evening glass of wine! Bob's photos too.
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Old Nov 12th, 2010, 09:46 AM
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My trip report might be of interest once past the first half. Click on my name to find it.
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Old Dec 9th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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ttt
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Old Dec 9th, 2010, 08:27 AM
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MartaD, I just saw your post and thought I'd add my experience from this past spring.

I had not been to Italy in many years and my bf had never been. It was a 2 week trip, postponed by a week because of the volcano eruption, so it was the last week in April and the first week in May. We flew RT FCO and connected upon arrival to a Blu Express flight to Catania.

Our itinerary was fairly evenly split between eastern Sicily, Amalfi Coast/Bay of Naples, and Rome. Since we live hectic lives here in the US, for us it was great to start in Sicily and build to busy Rome. In our 4 days in Sicily, we managed Taormina, Piazza Aremina and Caltagirone, and Siracusa. (We were visiting family on this leg, so our trip wasn't entirely sight-seeing here.) We then took the overnight ferry from Catania to Naples, spent 2 nights in Almafi and 3 in Sorrento before training up to Rome for our last 4 1/2 days.

We too loved Sicily at that time of year, and wish we could have seen more! Everything was very lush and the weather was a pleasant temp with the occasional fast-moving thunderstorm thrown in. If your DH has driven in Italy, he'll probably manage Sicily as well - they are at least as "crazy" as the other Italians when it comes to driving!
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Old Dec 9th, 2010, 09:40 AM
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My daughter and I just did a two week self drive through Sicily and loved it. She had studied in Siracusa(actually Ortigia) for a semester abroad in college so we wanted to go back and see how much things had changed. We flew into Catania and out of Palermo just because there are more flights for the return to Rome from Palermo than Catania.We stayed an extra 3 days in Rome at our favorite hotel to enjoy our last days of wine,gelato and pasta!

We rented a Mercedes 180 diesel automatic through Autoeurope in Catania and have finally found the car of our dreams for rentals overseas-small but big enough for luggage and people,more gas efficient and easy driving!One of the towns that we were in we had to fold the rear view mirrors in to get through the streets?

Some thoughts-we had been to Taormina before and had actually stayed in Catania and spent time at Mt. Etna so we concentrated more on the southern and west coast areas this time.Taormina is not one of my favorites in Sicily strictly because of the hype,massive cruise ship crowds and all of the touristy BS.

Our family LOVES Ortigia and although civilization has come to it(Marriott is trying to build a hotel there) it still needs at least two nights and a full day there to see the ruins;the food market and the Lungamare(the pathway around the sea on the island which is delightful with restaurants and marvelous views).FYI-over 4000 ships have been sunk in that harbor through history.)Ortigia has great restaurants;shops;one of the best Duoma squares in Europe and lots of history.Do stay actually in the city of Ortigia or you will miss the magic! The best way of describing it to people is that "it is Italy 40 years ago before the tourists ruined it!"

I would definitely include in your travels-Agrigento and its marvelous ruins.Although we traveled and stayed in some other cities on the way to Marsala, I would not recommend them as I did not care for them. Selulinte(sp?) was one of them-too spread out and reminded me of the Wisconsin Dells in the main city.

My two other favorite places were Marsala and Trapani. The salt flats,wineries and food in this area were unbelievable.There was so much to see and do in each city. I would base yourself in each city for two nights(at least) and I recommend taking the ferry for the day over from Trapani to the Egadi islands for a beautiful ride.You can do a daytrip up to Segesta or Erice from Trapani too.If you love fresh veggies,seafood and great wines then you will love this trip!I ate so much swordfish and calamari that I am sure I am glowing from the mercury levels?

I know that I will get hassled for saying this but Palermo is disgusting after sampling the fabulous food and friendliness of Sicily in other parts.It is dirty,loud,massive ripoffs,etc. and doesn't deserve to be placed in the same sentence as other Sicilian cities.Example-first night we were there my daughter orders a pizza at a very nice restaurant. We see a pizza in a box come into the restaurant and it turns out that the owner doesn't cook but orders from other places and then jacks the price up on his menu-what? To me it is New York City on a different scale and I am used to big cities.There is just too much attitude and issues there for me.
I say this because Sicily is so very special to me. It is the type of country where one can stop and ask for directions and that person will actually take you to where you want to go.You ask what time a restaurant will open and when told not till 8pm-the owner tells you he will open early for you since you are leaving early tomorrow. Seriously-the people of Sicily are warm,sincere and helpful.No matter where I have gone in that country they are always so welcoming.

Finally-I would definitely fly in and out of Sicily.Why waste the time and gas money to drive back and forth from Rome?
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Old Dec 9th, 2010, 10:11 AM
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I happened to enjoy Taormina and didn't find the tourist hordes that others mention. (A bit touristy, yes; crowded, no. Certainly didn't feel as touristy to us as Sorrento did later.) But I think there were a few things in our favor:

- It was the first place we went, arriving mid afternoon on our first (always jet-laggy) day. We weren't looking for a lot to do, and sitting in a cafe or restaurant alternately people-watching and staring out to sea fit our mood perfectly.

- It was early in the season/pre-season.

- We were there for just less than 24 hours, midday to midday, meaning we had the downtown pedestrian area much to ourselves for the passageria in the evening and the crowds weren't particularly apparent in the morning, either. Sure, most of the shops were closed for the evening, but lit and wonderfully packed with objets. I took a lot of photos there, one of which was one of my Europe contest submissions LOL.

We stayed at Hotel Schuler and wandered the back streets between there and the Greek amphitheater during our morning, with a detour to the English gardens. It was only on the road up to the amphitheater that we felt the tourist impact (loads of souvenir stalls). Breakfast on the hotel terrace was a lovely start to our Italy adventure, and despite a rather harried waitress, some of the best breakfast eats and certainly the best (Sicilian!) orange juice of our trip. Very good gelato at the far end of the pedestrian area the night before, too (closer to the amphitheater). The hotel lived up to its positive reviews on TA; we were able to take advantage of an off-season sale posted on their website for an even better price.

My sister drove us there, then picked us up the next day. She parked in the parking garage when you first enter town - but that meant a long walk with our luggage to the hotel! However, a reasonably priced option for parking once the bags are unloaded.
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Old Sep 9th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Topping by request
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Old Dec 9th, 2012, 05:13 AM
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ttt for all the people researching sicily at the moment [including me!]
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Old Jan 4th, 2014, 05:50 PM
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bookmarking for an upcoming trip to Sicily in late April!
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Old Jun 19th, 2014, 05:29 AM
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Old Nov 19th, 2016, 08:10 AM
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Very helpful report, Bob!! Thanks very much....I will return with itineray questions soon!!!
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Old Oct 7th, 2017, 04:12 AM
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bookmarking
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