Planning for 7 nights in Sicily

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Sep 7th, 2018, 08:45 AM
  #21
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Andreadee, we don't plan on driving while in Sicily so Cefalu will be on our next trip when visiting the Western part of the island. My daughter went there a couple of years ago and highly recommended the place also.
Kia, the only full day excursion to Mt Etna (south side) that is within our budget is by SAT. They operate this tour on Monday and Saturday. The other full day excursion to the south side is just beyond our budget. We probably will settle for the full day trip to the north side. Also, I think I will go for the car service to the Catania airport so to be the safe side. We don't want to miss the flights home, don't we?
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Sep 7th, 2018, 07:21 PM
  #22
kja
 
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Originally Posted by A4MYS View Post
the only full day excursion to Mt Etna (south side) that is within our budget is by SAT. They operate this tour on Monday and Saturday. The other full day excursion to the south side is just beyond our budget. We probably will settle for the full day trip to the north side.
Granted, it's been a while, but the prices I found for tours in advance of my trip were two or three times higher than the prices of tours that I could book once in Taormina, and I had a LOT of options once there. Before booking, you might contact your hotel or the Taormina tourist information office to learn more about the options you'll have once there. If you can manage it, consider one of the tours that includes the Gole dell'Alcantara.

Whichever you end up doing, take lots of layers (it can be very cold and windy at the top!), protective eye gear (particles of lava and ash HURT!), and shoes with good, thick soles. I also took earmuffs, and was the envy of my group.

Good luck!
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Sep 10th, 2018, 08:44 AM
  #23
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Kia, thanks for your advise as I got more information about Mt Etna excursions thru my hotel. I learned that I could take the Round Etna excursion on Friday Sept 21 as it has an optional activity on the south side to go up to the 3000m top. However, not sure about the Circumetnea train ride the Mt Etna base. It sounds exciting but would like to hear from someone that has taken this ride!!!
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Sep 10th, 2018, 06:04 PM
  #24
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Originally Posted by A4MYS View Post
not sure about the Circumetnea train ride the Mt Etna base. It sounds exciting but would like to hear from someone that has taken this ride!!!
I'm glad you found an option!

The segment of the Circumetnea train that was part of the day tour I took from Taormina to Mt. Etna was just a lovely rather flat route through some of the wine-growing areas and villages on that part of the mountain. What did you read that made it sound exciting or off-putting?
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Sep 11th, 2018, 07:42 AM
  #25
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Not exactly off putting but saw comments about the journey was long and many changes along the way to get to the actual Mt Etna base. I guess it should not be too bad if you are prepared for the trip and also knowing the itinerary ahead of time. I think I will go for that with the SATtour group.

I also plan on making another day trip to Ragusa/Modica while in Ortygia. I would like to take a bus from Siracusa to Ragusa and return by train. I am having a problem locating a bus service for this trip. Also do you know how long this leg of the bus ride from Siracusa to Ragusa? I read somewhere it will take upwards of 3 hrs and just not sure if this is worthwhile. What's your suggestion?
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Sep 11th, 2018, 05:58 PM
  #26
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The tour I took from Taormina to the top of Mt. Etna was a full day that began with the Gole dell'Alcantara. IIRC, transportation included a bus, the train, the bus again, a cable car, a massive ATV-type thing, and finally foot -- and then the reverse, but without the train. That's one of the reasons I said a tour would beat going solo -- the tour will facilitate your movement through all of these transit points. I didn't think it at all difficult, and I did think the scenery worth seeing. YMMV.

I'm not sure of the options for getting from Ortigia to Ragusa/Modica, but you can find out from rome2rio.com -- just be sure to click through the links to the source web-sites, as the main web-site is not sensitive to seasonal variation in schedules.

OR you can easily get travel from Ortigia to Noto and back by either train or bus. Transportation and your visit would likely take about 1/2 day.

I didn't visit Ragusa or Modica; I loved Noto -- and I'm not a great fan of Baroque!
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Sep 12th, 2018, 08:19 AM
  #27
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Kia, tried the rome2rio.com and finally got some info on the bus route from Siracusa to Ragusa and it is by AST Transporti. They have two morning routes leaving Siracusa at 7am and 8am and the journey is over 3:10 hrs. The return leg by train leaves Ragusa at 16:26 and it gets back to Siracusa around 6:40pm around 2:10 hrs. That is 5 hrs to/from in travel time and less than 5 hrs sightseeing. I am now not sure about this trip and perhaps we would just spend the full day in Noto for the Baroque culture as you did. Long range weather forecast is showing nice weather next week in Sicily so we should be ok. Again, thanks for all your input.
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Sep 12th, 2018, 06:11 PM
  #28
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Isn't rome2rio.com a great resource? I'm glad it helped.

FWIW, I think I mentioned that I'm not usually a fan of the Baroque, but I absolutely delighted in the playfulness of Noto's Baroque, and it is in such a glorious stone -- just ever so slightly to the golden end in strong daylight, and gorgeously warm and yellow as the sun sets. When I researched my trip, Noto was singled out from the other Baroque towns of the Val di Noto for exactly those reasons. But I also mentioned that I didn't visit Ragusa or Modica -- not enough time! Maybe you can decide once there? I found more than enough to keep me happily busy in Siracusa / Ortigia for 2.5 days....
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Sep 14th, 2018, 10:02 AM
  #29
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Just found out by accident that my accommodation in Ortigia is an attic room. It's just too late to change/find alternative accommodation at this late stage. I just hope it would not spoil my stay in Ortigia as I am very much looking forward to the stay there. And I wanted to breath the air and smell the sea during this trip. All this planning and I would end up in an attic room, bummer.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 11:21 AM
  #30
 
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I took Circumetnea train around most of the whole base from Taormina and bus back from Randazzo (?) - was a lovely ride thru numerous towns and lava flows - I did not take the detour to go up Mt Etna itself because then the summit access was closed due to volcanic activity. so yes part of the train ride would be lovely - the whole thing a bit tedious.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 06:46 PM
  #31
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Originally Posted by A4MYS View Post
Just found out by accident that my accommodation in Ortigia is an attic room. It's just too late to change/find alternative accommodation at this late stage. I just hope it would not spoil my stay in Ortigia as I am very much looking forward to the stay there. .
That's unfortunate, but perhaps a good lesson: Many of us only book reservations that can be cancelled with 24-hour notice by using booking.com and reading the options carefully.

FWIW, it can only "spoil your stay" if you let it. It might not be perfect, but you have options for taking advantage of Ortigia's opportunities and, if nothing else, making a good story of it.

Good luck!
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Oct 1st, 2018, 12:00 PM
  #32
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Hi all, we got back last week from our 7-night trip to Sicily. Pretty much stuck to our plan but with some changes which I will detail later. We like both our bases of the trip - Taormina and Ortigia. Both are so different and each with its own charm and character. We hit some nasty weather in Taormina - rainy and thunderstorms but they were gone as quickly as they appeared. It is a really magical place in spite of the weather. We rode the bus to the hilltop town of Castelmola on the second day and we walked back down to town by way of the Taormina Castle where we took some fantastic pics of the town. The weather then turned nasty on our way back to town. But nice weather of clear sky returned when we visited Teatro Antico in the early evening. Breathtaking view with the sea, the sky, Mt Etna and the two hills of Castelmola and Taormina Castle. Due to threatening storm in the region, we did not visit Mt Etna as I thought It was pointless to go up in the cold and wet overcast weather. We did visit Messina by train instead. I thought it was ok as we had really nice weather there. We visited the Messina Museum by tram along the shore and then same way back to visit the Monument for its fantastic view of the city, harbor and mainland. Also interesting is the visit to Messina Duomo and its clock tower. I took so much pictures that I had to buy a spare SD card there.

The 2+ hr train ride from Taormina to Siracusa was a nice ride. We arrived in the early afternoon and perfect timing for a Borderi sandwich. We also had no problem with our attic room and in fact it was very charming and nicely furnished. As I have been telling my friends that we were visiting an island without a blade of grass so I literally went around the island in the first thing confirming my own fact - not a blade of grass except for some weeds in the Apollo Temple ruins. We experienced the two faces of the island -while the sea can be choppy, the harbor is protected. And its no wonder that this area was settled so long ago. We went on a very enjoyable round the island boat ride on a calm evening as we were sold and told by the vendor that it would be last boat ride for the week due to bad weather. She was right as the sea was "angry" the next day but the inlet harbor was still. We took day trips to Noto and to Catania also while in Ortigia.

We like Noto a lot and enjoyed our afternoon there especially with our outbound bus ride. Our bus was full taken up mostly by after school teenager kids going home when leaving the station. On the way at one stop, the bus was waved down by a lovely lady wanting to get on. The bus driver just wouldn't let her to get in as the bus was full. I guess she just refused this as the next bus would be another hour of waiting. So there was a stand still between the driver and her standing on the steps of the bus. But the teenagers at the back of the bus were yelling and screaming and I guessed they were telling her they would make space for her as I saw them moving around to make room at the last bench seat. The driver just ignored the screams from the back but not the lady kept pointing to the back. It was chaotic and funny also. As I do not speak Italian so that was very operatic (but not my wife and she hated the noise). After 10 minutes of the theatrics of waving and yelling, the bus driver finally walked to the back of the bus to inspect the new space made available by the teenagers and then grudgingly let the lady on board. We all clapped and cheered as she walked towards the back to her seat and she was blowing kisses to everyone. This was worthy of a theater ticket.

I can't wait to plan for my next trip to the western part of the island.
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Oct 1st, 2018, 05:03 PM
  #33
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I'm glad you enjoyed your trip!
Thanks for reporting back to us.
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