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Seeking advice about transportation mostly

Seeking advice about transportation mostly

Nov 6th, 2019, 09:26 AM
  #1  
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Seeking advice about transportation mostly

We (68 and 71) are going to Sicily for the first time in April. Landing in Trapani mid-afternoon on 4/13. We have reservations at La Gancia for 3 nights. Hope to be able to take cable car to Erice that first afternoon, then plan a daytrip to Segesta and another daytrip to Selinunte. Check out on 4/16 and go to Agrigento. No hotel there yet. Stay for 3 nights (16th, 17th, 18th). Then go to Cefalu for the last 3 nights (19th, 20th, 21st), have reservations at Cefalu in Blu. Fly out on the 22nd from Palermo.

I usually make all of our travel plans myself but was feeling a little overwhelmed, at least partly because our use of public transportation when we were in Amalfi turned into a real headache and time-suck. I consulted a travel agent who hasn't offered much help so far. My questions to Fodorites are mostly about transportation:
  1. I thought we might get a driver for the two daytrips from Trapani, but the travel agent's Sicily “contact” has proposed a driver costing 250 euros for each. That seems really high to me. Is that a standard fee in Sicily? I contacted the Trapani hotel and asked if they thought we could get a taxi to take us and either wait for us or get another taxi to return home, but they also proposed a driver and just gave me his phone number. I haven't called yet to ask his fee. Are taxis not available in this area? Are they unreliable? Why isn't taking a taxi an option? I go to Merida Mexico every year and taxis are ubiquitous and cost at most a third of the price. I know we're talking two different economies but still...
  2. So then, on to Agrigento. The “contact” in Sicily said Agrigento is gritty and actually proposed having the driver take us from Trapani to Agrigento (maybe a 3 hour drive), look around at the temples and drive another 3 hours to Scicli. This seems insane to me. I'd like to stay in a nice hotel, doesn't have to be 5 stars, near Valle dei Templi. There seem to be some that would be walking distance if we weren't going to be walking for hours at the temple site, so how would we get there from the hotel? Again, are there taxis? Is there a reason not to use them? The hotel in Trapani mentioned Villa Athena when I asked them for a referral. It is across the road from the temples but it looks like about $1,400 for 3 nights. That's kind of steep. Does anyone have any suggestions for a hotel near the temples that might cost more in the range of or less than $200-$250 per night?
  3. If we stay 3 nights in Agrigento, is there a daytrip from there that makes sense in terms of time to get there? We enjoy sometimes just walking around the historic district of cities, looking at the architecture, stopping for coffees, etc. Doesn't have to be Greek/Roman ruins, and probably not that interested in churches.
  4. How to get from Agrigento to Cefalu?
It's been half a dozen years since I posted and read faithfully on the Europe Forum, but I'm hoping you folks will have some helpful advice or interesting suggestions.

Thanks much.

Nepheline

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Nov 6th, 2019, 09:45 AM
  #2  
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Moved to the Europe and tagged for Italy.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 03:06 PM
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You're staying too long in Agrigento(1 night would be enough to see the sunset/sunrise and the floodlit temples) and you're not staying at all in Palermo. I'd spend 2 nights less in Agrigento and spend at least the last 2 night(better 3) in Palermo. It's odd that you're traveling to Sicily for 9 days and not spending any time in the most important city.

"I know we're talking two different economies but still..."

We're talking different economies. Period. A car with a private driver is a luxury service in most of Europe. I'm not saying that you could not get a cheaper driver if you try, but I'm not surprised at all on that amount. Have you tried to haggle? Asked for a discount?

If you want to save money both sites can be easily visited by public transport if you're doing them on separate days.

You have a direct bus from Trapani to Segesta(the train is not running anymore). Here is the schedule from last year, I guess the departure times and frequency will be similar next year.

Trapani Segesta bus | Orari come arrivare a Segesta da Trapani

To get tio Selinunte you can take a train to Castelvetrano and a bus from C.vetrano to Selinunte. Should you miss the bus or need to wait too long for it you could take a taxi(Uber?) I guess. A 15 km trip would cost much less than a private driver for a whole day.

Come arrivare a Selinunte da Trapani (orari treni e bus)

4) To get from Agrigento to Cefalu you can travel by train in 2 hours, changing at Termini Imerese.

www.trenitalia.com

https://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 6th, 2019 at 03:11 PM.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 03:26 PM
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Rent a car.
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Nov 6th, 2019, 07:04 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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I agree that one or at most two nights should be sufficient for Agrigento, but wonder why your travel agent would call it "gritty"-- I thought it a fascinating medieval town, and the ruins are outside and so don't even require that you go into the town. FWIW, I spent about 6 hours on site, plus another 1.5 hours for the wonderful archeological museum there. I can not imagine enjoying a day trip that took 3 hours each way.

In addition to the schedules already mentioned, you can always check transportation options on rome2rio.com -- just be sure to click through to the underlying webpages, as the main page is not sensitive to seasonal variation in schedules.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 01:38 AM
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Agrigento is not especially gritty, though it is famous for corruption and the Mafia.

medieval, well, I'd call it basically modern with a whole bunch of 17th-century stuff, but maybe there is a hidden medieval centre.

perfectly nice place though and the temple zone needs a good half day and then the museum needs more time.

I'd take the train or the bus from Agrigento to Cefalu, worth checking both out, within Sicily the train system is pretty much a joke, very run down and likely to let you down while the bus (Pullman is the name you want) tends to be spot on.

You'll still want to pay a taxi to get from the centre of Agrigento to the start of the temple area, I recommend starting at the top (most easterly entrance) and walk to the lower car park to the west and take a taxi to the museum (though that bit is walkable) and then back to the bus/train station of your choice. You'll find taxis at both car parks of the temple site, there is even a taxi office at the western end, but you may have to hang about if there is a rush. Small shops and bars exist at the both ends with the larger number at the western end.

Driver/car rentals are especially expensive in Sicily, it is just how the economy works and, of course, you have to pay for both the government taxes and whatever the Mafia cab extort from the drivers. Other things are very cheap in Sicily and you'll find the vegetables are really good.

Hotels in Agrigento; use booking.com with their map to find your hotel, check their comments and tripadvisor (TA has not been damaged too much by fake-comments in Europe). Since all the life, restaurants etc are up in Agrigento are up in the town (old and new) that is where I would stay, the passeggiata is after all one of the reasons you come to Italy.

Last edited by bilboburgler; Nov 7th, 2019 at 01:45 AM.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 01:50 AM
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Palermo is a gritty town and has two fantastic Unesco sites (one is just up the road from town, buses go pretty often). I would stay for 2 nights. But going to Sicily and not going to Enna and then https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_Romana_del_Casale is crazy.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 07:35 AM
  #8  
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Thoughts on your suggestions

This is great feedback. Thanks so much. Here are my replies to various posters:

To BDKR – We travel a fair amount. Have been numerous times to Spain, a couple of times to Malta, once to Portugal, once to Amalfi, many times to Merida, etc. The way we like to travel is to stay in one place and make radiating daytrips, occasionally in a rental car and mostly by public transportation. We would like to visit Valle dei Templi. We do not want to stay one night in a hotel near it and then have to move again. Neither of us is interested in Palermo. Our choice. There are many interesting places to visit in Sicily and you can't see them all in 9 days.

If the typical cost for a private driver is E250 then the cost for a private driver is E250. I don't like haggling. I just wanted to make sure that this was a typical fee since I hadn't used a travel agent before and the “contact” was even less connected. I understand that everyone has to make their money, but if the typical cost for the service is E100, then I wanted to know that going in.

Thanks very much for the bus schedule. It sounds like taking a direct bus would be a good answer for the Segesta trip. Our experience a few years ago staying in Amalfi and waiting for buses, wasting a lot of time, made me hesitate this time. Saving a few hundred dollars at least on the trip to Segesta would be nice.

I hadn't thought about a train from Agrigento to Cefalu. That suggestion has real possibility and I will check it out. Again, thanks for the link.

To cdnyul – We'd been told by a couple of people who'd been there not to try driving ourselves, so I hadn't considered the car rental. We are going to look into that and see if the cost makes sense, and if the places we plan to stay are conducive to having a car (i.e., parking, traffic patterns, etc.). My SO is normally a fearless driver and when I was younger, but not young, I was the designated driver during a road trip through the Alpujarras in the south of Spain, narrow twisting roads with sheer dropoffs and no guardrails. Now I'm 71 and not as fearless.

To kja – I agree. The fact that the travel agent's “contact” referred to Agrigento as gritty and suggested that we spend, by deduction, about an hour at the temples and instead drive 3 hours to the opposite side of the island to a city way out of the way to our next desired location made me question what was going on (and therefore her rates of E250 for the driver to Segesta and to Selinunte). Before we went to Amalfi, I read similar comments about it and we loved Amalfi. So it's not a movie set. So what. I'm thinking we would spend a similar amount of time as you at the site and in the museum. Well, that's one full day right there. And there's no reason we have to see it all in one day if we're staying there a few nights. We could stop at Cave di Cusa on the way to Agrigento on the 16th and go walk around Agrigento, go to the temples and museum on the 17th, and make a daytrip to Enna/Villa Romana del Casale (which was already on my list) on 18th, check out on 19th.

I appreciate the advice about rome2rio and clicking through to get seasonal variations.

To bilboburgler – Great advice about where to start our tour of the temples (I had read numerous whiny complaints about walking up the hill) and knowing that there are taxis available makes a huge difference to how I figure out where to stay. I haven't yet searched car rental costs but if they're in line with the driver costs, I'll have to remortgage the ranch. I would be thrilled to find really good veggies there. We haven't found that to be the case in a number of places we have visited.

And yes, the passegiata is usually a highlight of any trip for us. I had not come across any reference to it yet in the guides, so appreciate your mentioning it.

Thanks again to everyone to offered comments and suggestions. I'll probably be back with more questions.
Regards,
Nepheline
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Nov 7th, 2019, 08:48 AM
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Direct bus Trapani - Agrigento (12 EUR/pax, 3 1/2 hrs journey)
__Salvatore Lumia - Autotrasporti da 75 anni__
Citybus Agrigento:
https://orariautobus.it/sicilia/agrigento.html
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Nov 7th, 2019, 08:55 AM
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Regarding the grittiness of Agrigento. That is correct for the city way up on the hill. We did not feel comfortable there. Lots of aggressive panhandlers, shuttered stores. And, we usually take those in stride. .However, the area down below near the Valley of the the Temples is very nice. We spent two nights there. We rented a car to tour Sicily but recall a couple at our hotel( Colleverde Park) who took a taxi to the Valley of the Temples. We went to the Temples one day and the nearby Archeological Museum the next day. It is an amazing site!
Prices for drivers- After we returned our car in Siracusa, he hired some drivers. None were anywhere near those prices! We used Sicily Life out of Taormina. Look at their website as a guide.
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Nov 7th, 2019, 05:47 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Agrigento ... medieval, well, I'd call it basically modern with a whole bunch of 17th-century stuff, but maybe there is a hidden medieval centre.
Too bad you missed it. Maybe it's changed, but it's one of the least touched medieval districts I've had the good fortune to roam.

Originally Posted by Nepheline View Post
We'd been told by a couple of people who'd been there not to try driving ourselves, so I hadn't considered the car rental. We are going to look into that and see if the cost makes sense, and if the places we plan to stay are conducive to having a car (i.e., parking, traffic patterns, etc.). My SO is normally a fearless driver and when I was younger, but not young, I was the designated driver during a road trip through the Alpujarras in the south of Spain, narrow twisting roads with sheer dropoffs and no guardrails.
I'm not sure who gave you that advice, but I've been to Las ALpujarras and I know how frightening those roads seemed (I was in a bus) and I saw nothing remotely like that in Sicily. There are some back roads that can be a bit tricky, and traffic around the major cities -- Palermo in particular -- can be a bit crazy around rush hours, but most of the roads you would need seemed easy enough to me.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 03:36 AM
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[QUOTE=kja;17013081]Too bad you missed it. Maybe it's changed, but it's one of the least touched medieval districts I've had the good fortune to roam.
I was with a part of my family who doesn't like to explore much, so could be.
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Nov 8th, 2019, 04:56 AM
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I used a private driver in Italy (for the Amalfi coast) recommended by LoveItaly and it was a fabulous day. More recently, I used private driver for half day and full day excursions - recommended by Challiman - and am definitely glad I made those choices. The prices you mention are within the range I paid. I will do it again in the future for day trip or to deal with complicated logistics.
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Nov 9th, 2019, 06:17 AM
  #14  
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Segesta bus/taxi question

I downloaded the Tarantola bus schedule mentioned by BDKR. That sounds great for getting us to Segesta. Are there taxis at the Segesta site for either a return to Trapani between scheduled buses or perhaps a trip to Erice on the way back to Trapani? I found 3 taxi companies listed on rome2rio but don't know if we would have to call one or if there is a taxi pool at Segesta.
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Nov 9th, 2019, 10:08 AM
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Why would you need a taxi going back?

If the schedule will be the same next year this is perfect for a day trip from Trapani.

Take the 2pm bus there(takes abot 1 hour - it says 45 minutes, but I assume this is "Sicilian time"), arrive at 3pm, have 1 hour at the site and take the 4pm bus back.

In case you wish to spend more time on the site, take the 8 or 10 am bus and return by the 1pm bus, back to Trapani by lunchtime.

It's an ideal bus schedule. You have the choice of spending 4 hours, 2 hours or 1 hour on the site.

Last edited by BDKR; Nov 9th, 2019 at 10:22 AM.
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Nov 9th, 2019, 12:05 PM
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We just returned from Sicily and had no problem with driving. We didn't go to all the places you are thinking of but rented a car as we were leaving Palermo, drove to Agrigento and Villa Romano del Casale (stayed in Piazza Armerina) and finally to Siracusa where we dropped off the car. We enjoyed our time in Palermo and didn't find it as gritty as we expected. We loved the mosaics at Villa Romano del Casale and really liked Siracusa, as well. We rented our car through Autoeurope and did OK (well, one or two missed turns) armed with good directions and our GPS.

Regarding Agrigento, we spent about two hours in the museum and about the same amount of time at the temples and didn't feel like we needed more time. One mistake we made was parking at the museum and walking from there to the temple area and back. Even though I think it was less than a mile (one way) I wished we had parked closer to one of the entrances to the temple as it was a long walk on a warm day. We briefly drove through Agrigento and it seemed like an interesting town that we would have enjoyed visiting.
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