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Seeking Comments on Itinerary for Sicily Trip

Seeking Comments on Itinerary for Sicily Trip

Feb 2nd, 2011, 04:09 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 481
Seeking Comments on Itinerary for Sicily Trip

We will be in Sicily for 12 nights in mid to late September. We would like comments on our tentative itinerary:

Palermo--two nights

Cefalu- one night

Aeolian Islands--2 nights (possibly staying at Lipari)

Taormina--2 nights (possibly Hotel Villa Ducale)

Ragusa/Noto--2 nights (as a base to visit Syracuse, as well as these two Sicilian Baroque cities)

Agrigento--1 night (Valley of the Temples)

Marsala- 2 nights (as a base to visit Segesta, Erice, the salt road between Trapani and Marsala and the wine country.)

We are two couples traveling together. We would particularly appreciate comments on the following questions:

We will rent a car at some point. However, we want to avoid driving in Palermo. (I have done it once and know it is not for the faint of heart.) We assume we can find a driver to take us from Palermo to Cefalu, perhaps through the ThinkSicily website. However, how do we get to the Aeolian Islands? Will hydrofoils be running from Cefalu at this time in September? Are we better off catching a hydrofoil from Milazzo? If so, is it realistic to expect that we could arrange for a driver to take us from Cefalu to Milazzo? If so, we could then avoid renting the car until we land at Milazzo upon the return from the Aeolian Islands. We would then pick up the car and drive to Taormina.

We are thinking about staying at Eremo della Giubliano outside of Ragusa.

We want to visit Caltigiarone and Piazza Armerina. Can we visit these two sites on the drive from Ragusa to Agrigento or is this biting off too much for one day? If so, can they be visited from Eremo della Giubliano?

We would appreciate any comments on our itinerary and recommendations for accommodations, restaurants in any of these locations. Thanks in advance.
Susan56 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 05:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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You can click on my name above to find my trip report for Sicily. Here are the images:
bobthenavigator is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 05:55 AM
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You can take a train from Palermo to Cefalu. The journey
takes 45 minutes.
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 06:06 AM
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Wow, that seems like a lot of moving around! (IME, extending stays to be every 2-3 days instead of 1-2 really helps guard against burnout.)

Unless your time staying in Taormina will including traveling outside of the town, you don't need - or want - a car there. (If you do have a car and your hotel doesn't provide parking, there's a spacious public garage at the edge of town.)

We did Piazza Armerina plus Caltagirone in one short day with time for a sit-down lunch in between (at the restaurant at the beginning of the road into Villa Casale). It meant that we hit Caltagirone during the lunchtime lull, but that in turn gave us nearly deserted steps - and at least one ceramics shop was still open so we could get our purchasing fix! Maybe 2 hours max at Villa Casale (including parking and wandering a bit on the larger site, plus negotiating the narrow walkways over the mosaics whilst in the company of some French school groups). The same or less time at Caltagirone, parking on the edge of town and walking up...
ggreen is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 09:38 AM
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> We want to visit Caltigiarone and Piazza Armerina. Can we visit these two sites on the drive from Ragusa to Agrigento or is this biting off too much for one day?

As ggreen said, yes, you can visit them both in one day. But I'm a little confused by your itinerary. That would mean getting to Agrigento too late to see the temples there, so you would (I assume) visit the Valley of the Temple the following day. You would then arrive late in Marsala, leaving one day (between your two nights there) to visit Segesta, Erice, the salt road between Trapani and Marsala and the wine country. And, before leaving for Agrigento, it sounds like your two nights in Ragusa/Noto would really mean one day (the day in between) to see Ragusa, Noto, and Siracusa. But maybe I'm misunderstanding your plans.
kja is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 10:00 AM
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And don't forget that switching lodgings takes up time: checking in, getting settled, checking out, getting from Point A to Point B (and hopefully being able to find the hotel promptly and not circling the town etc.)...

There have been a lot of posts on here recently about Sicily, as well as some very informative Trip Reports. I'd suggest doing a search on them to see how others have based their trips.
ggreen is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2011, 11:55 AM
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You might want to take a look at my trip report; just click on my name to find it.
Michael is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 06:54 AM
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Thank you for all of your help. We have revised our itinerary and would appreciate comments on this new plan. Now it looks like this:

3 nights Palermo. We will probably hire a private guide for the first full day and do a day trip to Cefalu in the morning of the second day)

3 nights Taormina--we would visit Etna on the second full day

2 nights Siracusa. Since the drive from Taormina is short, we would have most of the first day to see the sights. On the second day, we would either continue to see sights in Siracusa, or take a day trip to Ragusa and Nota.

One night in Caltagirone or Piazza Armerina. It looks like this is less than a two hour drive from Siracusa and that we could see both sights in one day and sleep for one night in one of these towns.

We would get up early the next morning and drive to Agrigento and see the Valley of the Temples. We would spend the night in Agrigento at a resort overlooking the ruins.

We would spend the last two nights somewhere in Provincia di Trapani. Possibly in a location near Selinunte. We could easily see Segesta and Erice from this position.

We would only have two one night stays, but they are short drives from each other and would give us the opportunity to make the drive from the East to West Coasts in a more leisurely fashion.

Thank you all once again for all of your comments. Please let me know if there are any obvious problems with this revised itinerary.

Thanks again,
Susan56 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 08:24 AM
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bobthenavigator -

That is an awesome photo album. Makes we want to go.
rholt is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 08:29 AM
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Yes, much better!

On your ninth night, I'd suggest staying in Piazza Armerina or vicinity - or even driving down to Agrigento that evening so you have 2 nights there. (Seeing Caltagirone first then Villa Casale makes the most sense for the driving route. The villa's website says it's open until 4pm every day, and as I mentioned above, even a thorough visit isn't more than 2 hours.)

...Of course, since you're now planning to see Cefalu as a day trip from Palermo - you could always do your itinerary a bit in reverse, ending in Taormina and flying out of Catania! (Palermo/Cefalu, Trapani, Agrigento, Piazza Armerina/Caltagirone, Siracusa, Taormina.) This would save a bit of driving, but then again you'd no longer be circumnavigating the island.
ggreen is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 09:55 AM
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Much better!

I think ggreen's suggestion of going all the way to Agrigento after the Villa Casale makes sense. That way, you could get a start on seeing the Valley of the Temples before day-trippers arrive and before the hottest part of the day.
kja is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 12:26 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
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Bob, your pictures are beautiful. What a photographer you are. Susan, I was reading your itinerary and we are going in Sept. as well. Our itinerary is in the process of being planned, but I think we will stay in Palermo 3 nights and try to see Trapani, Erice etc. one day, one day for Palermo and 1 day for Cefalu. We will be driving. We don't like large cities too much, so we are using Palermo as a base for those 3 days b ut probably will spend just a small amount of time there. When we finalize our plans Susan, I will let you know what are final destinations will be. Thanks for sharing.
touringlady is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 01:22 PM
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Grazie ! Look at Agriturismo Gigliotti in my trip report--just click on my name above.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 01:29 PM
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I second a stay at the Agriturismo Gigliotti. They were most helpful during our medical emergency, offered excellent food with attentive staff; we did not even have to request another espresso on our second breakfast, it came automatically.
Michael is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 03:01 PM
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Bob, Michael and Susan: I just talked with my travel agent and she suggested this itinerary:
stay at Villa Igiea.

Travel to Erice for 2 nights. (see Trapani and Segesta) Do I need 2 nts. here?

Travel to Selinunte for 2 nights and see Agrigento, Do I need 2 nts. here also?

Travel to Ragusa 2 nts. (See Noto,Caltaginone, Piazza Armerina and Modica.

Travel to Taormina for 2 nights. I guess we would have to See Siracusa on our way to Taormina? Would it be better to take a night away from Selinunte and add it here or in Ragusa?

Travel to Lipari for 2 nights

Spend 1 night in Catania and fly out next day.

Seems like a lot of stops. Anything I should take out or add?
touringlady is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 03:16 PM
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If you read my trip report, you would know that traveling by car it is easy to visit Segesta and Selinunte on the same day. Since I had no plan to visit Trapani, I do not know if staying in Erice for two nights is worthwhile. The town itself is just worth an afternoon's visit. The hotel where we stayed has a beautiful location.

What we did from Selinunte makes sense, although it would have been better to stay on the coast. I lost too much time trying to avoid the superhighway to get to Segesta and Selinunte to stay on the coast that evening (traffic was horrible and frustrating once we were in Sciacca). But I would stay in Sciacca rather than where we were, and it would be an easy drive to Agrigento. I would then stay in the agriturismo Gigliotti as a base for both Piazza Armerina and Caltagirone. From there, we would have gone toward Noto but for the loss of time both because of the volcanic eruption and our medical emergency which made us waste an afternoon and a whole morning in that phase of the trip (I leave out our subsequent return to the store to get a fitted boot).

I would stay a couple of nights at the agriturismo, but would not consider a couple of nights in Sciacca if it comes after a visit to Selinunte.
Michael is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 03:53 PM
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Your TA is giving you a FAM trip itineray---I do not like it.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 06:57 PM
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Touringlady: I am traveling to Sicily with Susan56. I am the only one of our party who has previously been to Sicily. I do not recommend staying in Erice. Erice is a fascinating medieval city which I enjoyed very much. However, it is at the top of a mountain. For a day trip, the funicular ride to the top is fabulous. When I was there, the funicular broke down and we had to hail a cab to get back to the bottom. The road was narrow with multiple switchbacks. By the time I got to the bottom, I was ill. There are not many hotels in Erice and it is not a very convenient base for touring the other attractions in the area: Marsala, Segesta, Via del Sale, the vineyards etc.
freedaleo81 is offline  
Feb 8th, 2011, 07:16 PM
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Susan56, the Selinunte area offers several pluses: easy freeway access, the ruins right there, the comfortable working town of Castelvetrano nearby, and Selinunte Marinella if you want a beach fix.
Touringlady, consider the area around Politeama Square for your Palermo hotel--more convenient for sightseeing.
bon_voyage is online now  

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