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Private driver in sicily???

Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 05:06 AM
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Private driver in sicily???

OK, I KNOW this will be expensive, so hold the snark, please. Here is the situation:

Our 2-plus week-trip to Sicily was almost all booked (hotels and inns) for last May. I shifted all bookings to October. Have not yet bought air tix.

Partner (who drives rental cars when we travel) is very leery of traveling in October so I think this would be a solo trip. I am too anxious to rent car after Catania, and proceed on a clock-wise driving trip--Ragusa, Castelveltrano, Trapani, with other stops also. Home from Palermo airport. Included are restaurants and inns in the countryside. (I can post entire plan later).

SO: I am asking about the feasibillity of hiring a driver once I leave Ragusa after a 4-night stay in that city. Imagine I can get from Catania to Ragusa by bus or train. But from there on, stops are in out of the way locations. I have been to Sicily before and not planning to go to Agrigento or Siracusa. I love the countryside, the rural inns, and the highly rated restaurants popular with locals, not really the super-fancy Michelin places although I will book at Il Duomo.

Would it be better to get to each stop using a driver from the last stop, or hire someone to drive me the entire time, from Ragusa. Has anyone here visited Sicily and used a private driver? I can get around in Italian a bit due to speaking Spanish, so does not have to speak English. Last year, from Cadiz, I took taxis to Barbate and back, but I think a driver is less $$ than taxis.....

Does anyone know of a private driver in eastern Sicily? Approximate cost per day? 300E?????

Sorry I am all over the place with this but just trying to plan for the very strong possibility that partner will bail on me and I will have to go alone. Driving just seems so scary, although it was mostly easy with partner driving last time, this time I have chosen much more out of the way places to stay.

Other option: Fly solo to a city where I just hang around and maybe do a train trip to a couple of other places. OR, return to Andalucia (HOT!) where I think I can drive solo in the countryside in Cadiz province--that would really be a food-based trip. Also, I've never been to Stockholm.

Obviously, this all depends on whether Italy, or Spain, or Sweden will even allow US people to visit!!!

Thanks!!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 11:39 AM
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Can't help you with a private driver rec, but I will say my rescheduled trip planned for 10/08 to Venice via Amsterdam was cancelled almost 2 weeks ago by Delta. When I checked flight schedules just for the heck of it that very day, they were still selling tickets for the same (cancelled) flights. Good luck.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 12:11 PM
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I would guess that the most-affordable solution is to rely on your hotel to arrange the next taxi each time. As you know, the circuit you suggest isnít really that far but the accommodation costs for a single driver would not be cheap. You have time to ask your hotels to gauge their willingness but hoteliers always seem to know somebody.

Good luck, eks.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 01:14 PM
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Eks, best would be to consult the inimitable Vagabonda on the TripAdvisor Sicily Forum for up to date information and recommendations.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 01:18 PM
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Contact Barbara at Eracle Travels.. they are based in Ragusa. https://www.eracletravels.it/

for sure she has a network of excellent drivers in that area.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 03:28 PM
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You guys are great! Thanks so much!! As it happens, oddly enough I just got back from my first restaurant meal since March, here on the North Fork of Long Island. And our waiter, it turns out, is from Taormina and his brother is a driver, or so he told me. He gave me the info and asked me to contact him and he will ask brother about prices and all....

I will take all of your advice to heart and try each idea.....I did do that last year in Sevilla where I had a combo of a driver recommended by the hotel, and then local taxis, but it was much less area to cover than this prospective trip, and now that I hear from Holly, who knows if I can even go to Italy in October. But I can still dream, right, and contact the people and follow the ideas you all recommend, plus the brother of the waiter from Taormina! Oh, how I long to travel. The older we get, it seems that we have had to cancel more trips. This is kind of my life, to plan, dream, and take, trips......not too pathetic, right??

Thanks again, my Fodor friends. I hope I can help you all someday!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 04:37 PM
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We are ever in your debt for all those fabulous food-oriented trip reports.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2020, 06:01 PM
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Keep dreaming and keep planning!
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Old Jul 24th, 2020, 08:51 AM
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I know a fab driver in Taormina.. but I did not know you were looking for one there! I also use a great driver in Cefalu area.. happy to share info.
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Old Jul 24th, 2020, 06:05 PM
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Ekscrunchy, we used Sicily Life for private drivers from Ortigia to Taormina and from Taormina to Catania airport. We were pleased with this agency. I know they drive all over Sicily so another resource for you. When we were planning our trip to Sicily( October 2018) I found a company that supplied private drivers and will try to find the name.
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Old Jul 26th, 2020, 08:00 AM
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What happened in Catania?

Sicily is one of the easiest places to drive, in my experience, though some of the more rural roads could be hairy.

But the main highways between the bigger cities seem pretty easy.

I would think it's pretty easy to find buses from CTA to Siracusa. Not so sure about Ragusa. Maybe not direct bus lines, maybe you have to change in Siracusa?

But it depends on how long a flight you're taking to reach CTA. If it's an intercontinental flight, you probably don't want to do a long drive.

Ragusa to Casteltravano is a long stretch, 3.5 hours according to Google Maps. Nothing in between to stopover for a night or two?

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Old Jul 26th, 2020, 09:34 AM
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Eck - I can't help much as we rented a car in Sicily [and unlike scrb11 we found it one of the worst places we had ever driven, but perhaps we went to different places] but I am selfishly hoping this trip comes off for nothing more than to read your review of eating at Il Duomo in Ragusa. We stayed in a very nice B&B just along the street from there but managed not to eat there which was a bit of a disappointment. Unfortunately DH was never keen [in retrospect I think he was already feeling unwell] and i didn't want to press the point so we missed out. So i will have to enjoy it vicariously!
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Old Jul 26th, 2020, 10:38 AM
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Parking is tricky, especially in places like Siracusa and of course Taormina.

And some hilly towns, there are a lot of winding roads. For instance, I've based in Ragusa and that meant driving up and down winding roads every day when going on day trips and returning. Not unlike hill towns in Tuscany.

But the main autostradas along the coast are fairly easy. Of course some parts through cities like Agrigento, there's a slowdown for a few kilometers.

Where I haven't driven a lot is around Palermo, have tried to avoid being around there with a car. Usually to stay near an airport, there are places within an hour of the airport along the autostrada , such as Golfo di Castellamare, so easy departure and arrival.

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Old Jul 26th, 2020, 11:05 AM
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<<But the main autostradas along the coast are fairly easy. Of course some parts through cities like Agrigento, there's a slowdown for a few kilometers.>>


Sadly [in retrospect] our route did not take us along many
autostrade, scrb11. Rather it took us from one hill town to another often along roads which when not switch backs were less than optimum. Having braved the morning traffic getting out of Syracuse, for example [entering it had been such a trial that we didn't touch our car for the next 3 days] we took the road to Palazollo Acreide which looked like a sensible enough choice on the map [far preferable to and shorter than the autostrada] only to discover after about 10 miles that the bits of the road which still existed i.e. had not fallen away down the hillside were full of potholes. In retrospect we should have turned back but if course one always thinks/hopes/prays that the bad stretch will be short. "It can't go on much longer" you cry. Oh but it could. All the way to Palazollo Acreide. Fortunately it turned out to be a pleasant if not exciting place where we were able to fortify ourselves with coffee and pastries before the next instalment which in the event was not so bad, until of course we got to Ragusa where as you so rightly say staying in Ragusa Ibla means a taking a windy hill road to the top. And in the morning taking it back to the bottom. Repeat for as many nights as you have booked there. But our piece de resistance was booking a hotel not in Taormina but in much more elevated Castelmola the drive up to which [via a hospital car park due to defective signage] was so enervating that the car again spent 3 nights in the hotel car park whilst we used the hotel minivan for our excursions.

I've driven some of the hill towns of Tuscany. The Sicily we found was not like any of them. [and I've also driven small Cornish lanes for 20 years and before that in Central London as well as in many European countries so it's not like we didn't know what we were doing]
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Old Jul 26th, 2020, 11:18 AM
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I think the most difficult drive for me was Villa Casale. Drove up to Erice a couple of times on one trip, that was kind of tiring.

First time I visited Tuscany, I chose a place in Citta della Pieve because it seemed to be right between Val d'Orcia and Umbria. But it was such a winding drive up and down all the time. Was exhausting to return to after a long day, to drive the last 10-15 kilometers.

Yeah I've been on narrow roads where you just hoped you didn't run into a car coming from the opposite direction because you'd have to find a place where there was enough room to pull to the side. Rarely there were other cars. Made me want to return as soon as I could going back the opposite way.

But I don't recall such roads in Sicily.
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Old Jul 27th, 2020, 01:17 AM
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scrb - i think it's clear that you didn't experience the sort of roads that we did. surely one of the great things about fodors is that other posters can benefit from learning about a range of experiences, both good and bad.
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Old Jul 27th, 2020, 05:06 AM
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Ok, thanks to all. I will post the entire itinerary later. But the stop between Ragusa and Castelveltrano (really a B&B outside the city) is outside Realmonte, near Scala del Turchi. THEN on to Castelveltrano.

No, not going to Taormina, but the guy I met gave me the name of his brother who lives there and is a driver all around the island. His name is Leonardo Gualtieri and his website is www.excursionssicily.com I have not even tried it yet. I met his brother there there is some sort of connection, however tenuous.

I am not so scared of the autostrada (i?) More scared of entering the small towns and parking, and also driving at night to restaurants in rural areas. Or of driving at night, period. But I guess I can take taxis...
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Old Jul 27th, 2020, 05:19 AM
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I totally understand your hesitation to drive alone in Sicily. We were on some autostradas but most of the time we traveled on back roads. And we would never return to Taormina either.
Driving from west to east, we ended up in dense fog up in the mountains. We loved Sicily, and like you, will return.
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Old Jul 27th, 2020, 08:21 AM
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Just spent at least half hour writing longe response with details ofo proposed trip. Got wiped out when I tried to edit with more info..so here is original post.

Anyone have comments on where to stay around Scopello and if this area is worthwhile in late October?

MENU'

Ok, thanks to all. I will post the entire itinerary later. But the stop between Ragusa and Castelveltrano (really a B&B outside the city) is outside Realmonte, near Scala del Turchi. THEN on to Castelveltrano. Then--should I stay in Sciaccia?

Then Trapani.

Then Scopello area..stay at Hotel La Tavernetta, or at Tonnara di Scopello? Enough to do without hiking in that area?

Rialtogirl: No, not going to Taormina, but the guy I met gave me the name of h is brother who lives there and is a driver all around the island.

I am not so scared of the autostrada (i?) More scared of entering the small towns and parking, and also driving at night to restaurants in rural areas. Or of driving at night, period. But I guess I can take taxis...
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Old Jul 27th, 2020, 10:45 AM
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Scopello is pretty quiet that time of year. Maybe it’s better to do as a day trip from Trapani? If you just want a pretty place to crash for a night, would be perfect.
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