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Planned Itinerary 16 nights Naples/Sicily -- comments welcomed

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Sep 26th, 2012, 03:35 PM
  #1
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Planned Itinerary 16 nights Naples/Sicily -- comments welcomed

After checking out this board and TA (thank you!), this is our itinerary as of now.

We are middle aged, well traveled couple and have visited other regions of Italy – but never Sicily. Our dates are set by frequent flyer tickets. I will have more detailed questions about sites, etc., later – this posting is to see if my itinerary needs tweaking.

My husband likes antiquities more than I. We both really like to wander cities and countryside, see the sights and soak the experiences…..well, pretty much what other people like, too!

May 20 – arrive Naples 9 p.m. (from LAX thru Munich)

4 nights Naples

May 24 – fly to Palermo, 3 nights Palermo

Unfortunately, full days will be Saturday and Sunday.

May 27 - Pick up rental car 'whenever' on Monday (so we have extra time in Palermo if we want it) It has been suggested to pick up car at airport.

4 nights Villa Sogno, Selinunte

This was a hard choice. At first I wanted to base in Scopello for Western Sicily and stay at Pensione Trancino. But after reading reviews of Villa Sogno it seems like that will make even better base for this area. Plan to do day trips to Erice (probably have dinner there and see it in evening), Segesta, see the ruins at Selinunte and whatever else we want in the environs of Trapani, eg., wine tasting, olive oil tasting, etc. It could also give us a bit of a vacation feel with the garden and pool. If we stay there we may not make it to Riserva Zingara, which I was looking forward to hiking and part of what made Scopello attractive.

May 31 – Depart for Piazza Armerina.

Another tough decision. We can’t do everything and may skip Agrigento since we will see other ruins, and instead see the mosaics at Piazza Armerina. Overnight Piazza Armerina (Villa Clementine) or Caltagirone. Hopefully see mosaics afternoon of arrival and Caltagirone next day on way to Siracusa.

June 1 – depart for Siracusa. Stay 4 nights at L’approdo delle Sirene or similar in Ortigia. Day trips wherever we feel like going – Noto, other baroque towns, etc, plus see the archaeological park.

June 5 – return car to Catania airport for flight to Munich/LAX (or might return car in Siracusa day before and get airport transfer if possible)

Well, that's it for now. Look forward to hearing back from everyone with comments.

I'll have more specific questions later.

Thanks so much.

Alison
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Sep 26th, 2012, 04:53 PM
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You may want to look at my trip reports, one on Rome, Naples, etc., and the other on Sicily; click on my name to find them.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 04:54 PM
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Save a day by taking the overnight ferry between Naples and Palermo.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 05:41 PM
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I wouldn't skip Agrigento. The ruins there are spectacular. I also would spend a night or two in Modica and visit Ragusa and Noto from there. The theater in Taormina is gorgeous. I'm glad we saw it. Here's my trip reports for Naples and Sicily:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-november.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-and-paris.cfm
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Sep 26th, 2012, 05:52 PM
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If your husband likes antiquities, I suggest you find time for Agrigento. The best antiquities we saw in Sicily were in Agrigento and Taormina, both of which you are bypassing - I would try to visit one or the other.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 05:56 PM
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I also wouldn't skip Valle dei Templi. You can do it as a long day trip from Selinunte.

I might take a night away from Ortygia (or Selinunte, where I've not been) and spend a night or two either in Modica or Ragusa. Modica did not feel very touristy to me, and I enjoyed that. We started in Palermo and worked our way to Catania on our trip; Ortygia/Siracusa was the first place we heard other American voices. Nothing wrong with that at all, and I loved Ortygia, but there was something workaday-yet-pretty about Modica that I wouldn't want to miss.

But that's me. I'm sure you'll have a great trip wherever you go! Enjoy Sicily.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:02 PM
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Actually, if you want to fly, you can get an early flight and be in Palermo by 10am. Flight time is only 55 minures, plus time at the airport and the drive to Palermo.

Check the cost of flight vs overnight ferry.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:02 PM
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Marija and Michael, i had already read both of your trip reports. They were among those that were helpful. Thank you.
My husband is opposed to the ferry -- I tried.
We have gone back and forth about Agrigento. As of now, we think we will have seen plenty of ruins and want the night by Piazza Armerina instead since the mosaics sounds so very interesting. Because Agrigento is right on the way, we could still decide to stop there as long as we can store our luggage. I am looking into the Villa Athena to store luggage if we eat lunch there!
As for the baroque towns, we really want to cut down on the number of nights in each place. We both work really hard and want to feel like this is a vacation! With 3 full days in Siracusa we hope to do a day trip and cover one, two or three baroque towns. If we want a short trip there is Noto; if we want to spend a full day it appears we could do a loop of Noto, Ragusa and Modica -- but that might be a very long day. Then again, we love chocolate (memories of our "choco-pass" in Turin), and could have dinner in Modica if the roads are such that we could drive back to Siracusa in the dark.
Any comments on these towns as a LONG day trip from Ortigia?
We realize with 16 nights we can't do everything!
(that's also why we had to cut Taormina -- figure when we're "older" we'll catch it as a cruise stop!
Really appreciate this input -- keep it coming!
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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No problem with luggage in Agrigento. The parking for the ruins is controlled (paid parking) and I suspect that it is relatively safe.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:10 PM
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I understand wanting to relax--and my trip was definitely not relaxing; we hit many places in eight nights--but I found the driving in Sicily always took much longer than I had anticipated and country roads are dark, dark, dark at night.

It is easy to see a lot in Palermo in a short amount of time. Though I do want to return to see more.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:23 PM
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Click on my name above for my trip report from May 2005---and my photo gallery below. We loved Sicily---you will too.

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...y.php?cat=3828
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:35 PM
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Bob, c'mon.....how could i possibly have ever missed your trip report? It's been in my "sicily future travel" file since you posted it in 2005! After visiting Lake Orta because of you, how could i not follow your reports? Any comments about my itinerary? As I recall you did the baroque towns as a day trip? LONG day?
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Sep 26th, 2012, 06:56 PM
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I like your plan! It sounds like you've found a nice combination of things that will suit your interests. I agree that the ruins in Agrigento are amazing, but you'll see a number of other amazing ruins, and the mosaics of the Villa Romana del Casale are definitely worth seeing. And as you say, you can fit in a visit to the Valley of Temples from one of your bases should you choose to do so. Be sure to visit the cathedral in Monreale while you are in Palermo. And BTW, I loved L’approdo delle Sirene - hope you do, too! Enjoy!
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Sep 26th, 2012, 07:27 PM
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I agree with kja, looks like a good plan. (Click on my name for South Italy and Sicily TRs.) I definitely support basing in Ortigia - great place for just soaking up atmosphere.

I'm a big fan of mosaics, and have seen a lot of Greek temples, so I understand your choice, but I might be tempted to see if I could do both. You don't need a lot of time for Villa del Casale (whereas Monreale deserves as long as possible).
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Sep 26th, 2012, 10:22 PM
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thursdaysd, i had not seen your trip reports and really enjoyed them. Loved the alliteration! Really good information, thanks. And confirmed why i want plenty of time in Ortigia as well as a day trip to Erice. (although had hoped to visit Erice in evening to avoid day-trippers and Vagabonda at TA indicated would be a long drive after dinner)

kja and Thursdaysd, OY, was planning to skip Monreale since we have only 2 full days in Palermo.....

Vagabonda at TripAdvisor has advised me to spend two nights at Piazza Armerina and see Modica/Ragusa from there, rather than as a day trip from Siracusa. then see Noto from Siracusa.
I hope someone will pipe in with advice about Modica/Ragusa/Noto combined as a day trip from Siracusa.
Also, when we were in Provence, after awhile all those adorable towns started to look alike. (I hope this isn't heresy!) Will it be the same with the baroque towns? Maybe visiting one will be enough?
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Sep 26th, 2012, 11:08 PM
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Much as I loved Palermo, I would definitely give up some time there to ensure having time to see Monreale's cathedral - it really is worth seeing, and (as thursdaysd says) worth giving as much time as you can!

I must admit that I'm not all that fond of baroque architecture - but I LOVED Noto! By the time I reached Siracusa, I knew that I would have seen baroque stuff in Palermo and in Caltagirone, and there's also some in Ortygia. I knew I would see more in Naples and Lecce (which I saw after visiting Sicily). So for my interests, I thought just one baroque town would be enough. I'm very glad I saw Noto, where there is a playfulness to the architecture that I've only seen elsewhere in Lecce (where the playfulness is even more over-the-top, and the stone less warmly hued than in Noto).

I can't comment on Modica or Ragusa, since I chose to skip them. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Noto. I chose to spend a night there (as a solo traveler, I find it easy to relocate even every night or two - which is quite understandably not everyone's choice). As I recall, I took a bus from Ortygia that left early in the afternoon, reached Noto in plenty of time to explore it before things closed, and enjoyed seeing the same delightful sights on some short walks (the core of Noto is quite small) after the lighting had shifted from to evening and then to night. I left Noto after breakfast the next morning. It could easily be seen in a rather short day trip if one is willing to forego seeing it in different lights.

Hope that helps!
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Sep 27th, 2012, 05:00 AM
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On no account miss Monreale!!! It's quite spectacular. And besides the mosaics there are the columns in the cloisters.

I didn't care so much for Noto, but I'm no fan of baroque.
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Sep 27th, 2012, 05:48 AM
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We visited Noto as a day trip (by bus) from Ortigia) and loved it. It is only 32 km from Syracuse. In 2002 Noto and its church were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
After the 1693 earthquake, Noto was completely rebuilt on a new site. Sinatra was responsible for many of the new buildings in the new city. Many churches and palaces had been built. One of his most notable buildings is Palazzo Ducezio (now the town hall known as the Municipio). On Via Nicolaci stands the Palazzo Villadorata, whose many playfully buttressed balconies – horses, griffons, nymphs, cherubs, fierce bald men – jut from a severely Classical façade.During the annual Infiorata flower festival (third weekend of May)(maybe you will be lucky enough to be there during this time), Via Nicolaci as well as other streets, courtyards and pavements are entirely covered with petals arranged in intricate designs.
Visit the Teatro Comunale, where a thick velvet curtain swept aside in the foyer reveals a divine auditorium: red and gold, tiny and round, with plush velvet seats on the floor and honeycombed by jewel-like boxes inserted around the walls.

From the town's gate, Porta Reale, starts Noto's grand main street, Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which offers a good view of the city's architecture.

The Noto's main square, the Piazza Municipio, you will find the Cathedral of Noto.
Teatro Vittorio Emanuele is one theater that merits a visit even if you are not an art enthusiast. This place was formerly used as an artistic studio; however, in the year 1870, the historic venue was restored and reopened as a theater. Since then, the theater has hosted the likes of Tina Di Lorenzo Pierantonio and Eleonora Duse. After its second renovation in the year 1998, the Teatro Vittorio Emanuele was declared as a UNESCO Heritage site. Attending a performance or a show in this beautiful temple of art is almost like partaking in history.
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Sep 27th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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I think visiting one baroque town is enough, and I actually like the baroque towns the most.

It is hard to advise without knowing your husband's interest in antiquities. Were it me, I would not want to miss Paestum while near it, and would give a much greater priority over Agrigento. I consider your time in Naples a bit short given that you are not arriving in Naples until 9pm your first night. Your 4 nights in Naples is really only 3 days, and "Neapolis" is really quite a fascinating treasure of a layered city, reaching back to Greek times. And the archeological museum really cannot be missed for a student of antiquities.

For my own trip, I made Agrigento, Taormina's Greek theater and the archeological sights of Siracusa (including its museum) my priorities, and probably found Agrigento the least revealing to me. But I am still very glad I saw them -- and I would definitely want to see them if I had not seen Paestum and its museum.

The truth about Sicily is that is really quite a huge place with an incredible diversity of highly valuable sights to see, so known your own depth of interest in really important. I think for the general traveler who of course is thrilled to see this great historic remnants but who otherwise never reads a book about ancient history or architecture, it is really easy to "over-do", running from 4-star "sight" to 4-star sight.

But if your husband has a real passion for these things, the priorities get different -- and of course he is traveling with you and I think your interests should be respected and evenly catered to - but apart from hiking, I'm not sure you've said what they are. (I wouldn't want plenty of time in Ortygia, so I'm curious why you would.)
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Sep 27th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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I'm sorry -- I just realized I hadn't read your response in the middle to other posters comments, where you did talk much more about yourselves and your interests beyond seeing antiquities.

Modica's chocolate is really not worth any kind of long and difficult day to get to it -- unless Mexican chocolate is your all time favorite. It's a curiousity more than the kind of thrill chocoholics are usually seeking. (And I rather imagine you can buy it in many other places in Sicily now, like the boutiques in Ortygia).

That said, I share Leely2's overall reaction to Ortygia as compared to Modica. Ortygia is very tourist conscious and directed. People in Modica are still rather surprised to see tourists, and life in the economically robust town goes on without them.

But since you are really underscoring you and your husband's need for a vacation, I would advise cutting back on some of this far-flung sightseeing you are planning. My initial visit to Sicily, I didn't include Palermo, the piazza Amerina, Caltagirone, or the entire area around Erice -- not because I didn't want to see them, but because there is only so much hard driving in Sicily I'm willing to do.

It sounds like even your husband has a limit on his appetite for "hitting the sights." The truly rewarding sights of Greek and Roman antiquity within reach to you are in Naples/Pompei and its museums, Paestum and its museum, Taormina, the Duomo in Ortygia, Siracusa and its museums and Agrigento and its museums. That's a lot, especially in June, and I wouldn't try to combine all that with baroque towns and other excavation sights if you want to relax, especially if wanted to keep the mosaics and the hikes. I'd also zero in on how much of Palermo I truly wanted to see. It's a fairly hectic place like Naples, not a meander-place like Venice or Lucca. Its greatest sights are not related to antiquity -- although they can be spectacular.

I wouldn't overworry Sicily. It's so unusual, you can put together almost any combination of targets and feel wowed. (And the food is delicious). But if you need a vacation, don't lose sight of that, because it's a hard driving place and it is likely to be quite hot for many days of your trip.
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