Sicily

Mar 9th, 2019, 12:32 AM
  #1  
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Sicily

hi have 2 weeks in Sicily in October. Thinking of a couple of days in Catania then to Siracusa, back up to Taormina and visit Mt Etna before going to Cefalu and Palermo. Would like advise on plan as well as best place to do a tour to Mt Etna from. Should we do this from Catania or Taormina. Is it worth going to Taormina? We will be using public transport while there. Any help or suggestions would be very appreciated. We will be there early October. Thanks
bringonitaly is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 03:06 AM
  #2  
 
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Maybe we will run into you. We will be in Ortygia (Siracusa) and Ragusa at the same time. You can take Etna tours from Taormina or Catania. It has been some time since we did that, you might consult the trip advisor Sicily forum. Vagabonda seems to be the most knowledgeable person on the planet with very specific questions about Sicily.

Many here do not like Taormina largely due to tourist crowds. Our stays there were largely in November when crowds thin a bit. We found it one of the most spectacular spots in Sicily. Even during busier times, it’s not bad early morning and later in the day when you can easily enjoy its beauty from places like the ancient theatre. By day, the hike up to Castelmola can get anyone away from the crowds.
whitehall is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 03:41 AM
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Thanks whitehall useful to know about Castelmola
bilboburgler is online now  
Mar 9th, 2019, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Thanks whitehall useful to know about Castelmola
Castelmoola from hiking trail and view from trail down to Taormina.



whitehall is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 06:28 AM
  #5  
 
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I agree with every word whitehall said. Taormina is totally magical in late October. Waking to the view of Mount Etna from our balcony is one of the most cherished memories my husband and I have.

We stayed the fabulous hotel half way between Taormina and Castelmola, “Villa Ducale”, and we hiked up to Castello di Castelmola, so these beautiful photos posted by whitehall look very familiar (Thank you, whitehall!).

You can book a half-day Jeep 4x4 tour from Taormina to Mount Etna with “Discover Etna” or any other tour company. We enjoyed it - something very unconventional, like walking on the lava fields or deep inside the caves... very cool 😎
vinonobile987 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 06:48 AM
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Do a search here for TRs for Sicily, there are several including by public transport.

Make sure you stay in Ortygia rather than central Siracusa. Taormina is worth one night, not sure I would stay in Catania at all. If you are going to Palermo consider Trapani as well, and don't miss Erice. I thought the Villa Casale was one of the top sights but difficult by public transport.
thursdaysd is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 07:57 AM
  #7  
 
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You seemed to have left out the center of Sicily such as Villa Casale:


I wrote a trip report you might want to read. Click on my name to find it. If traveling by public transportation, I suspect that Piazza Armerina would be the stop to see Villa Casale.
Michael is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 08:13 AM
  #8  
 
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Villa Casale Del Romano

“You seemed to have left out the center of Sicily such as Villa Casale”

We almost made the same mistake because we did not want to detour from Agrigento on the way to Menfi and Selinunte. Luckily, the most fabulous DE on Trip Advisor, Vagabonda, had convinced us to make this trip leaving our luggage at our Agrigento hotel and picking it up on the way to Menfi (not safe to leave luggage in the trunk of rental cars in Sicily).

Villa Casale is a real trip back in time to the glorious days of Ancient Rome. The mosaics are remarkably preserved, you can see how the Romans worked, ate, slept, enjoyed vino and food, sailed for trade, competed in sports... Absolutely fascinating trip and certainly worth a detour either from Siracusa or Agrigento.

I am not even talking about the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento - well, that is s true wonder of the world.
vinonobile987 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 08:17 AM
  #9  
kja
 
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By “visit Mt. Etna,” do you mean go to the top? If so, you can join an organized tour from either Catania or Taormina. Consider looking for one that includes the Gole d’Alcantara. You can get to the top on your own, but it requires multiple changes of transportation, and going with a tour will greatly simplify the process. Also: wear thick-soled shoes and bring layers – it can get brutally cold and windy near the top! I brought earmuffs and protective eyegear, and was the envy of my group.

If what you meant is to visit Mt. Etna's wineries, I know that there's a train. but didn't try it myself.

IMO, Taormina is beautiful, but so crowded with daytrippers as to be truly unpleasant once they arrive. You might consider staying a night or two so you can see it (there isn’t that much to see!) before and after it is overrun, and use that day for your trip to Mt. Etna. And you can also take a bus to Castelmola and hike down, which I prefer as it means I was looking out over the terrain and sea as I did so.

Another vote for Ortigia rather than Siracusa.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 08:33 AM
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Definitely Ortygia vs Siracusa - the latter is pretty rundown. Ortygia is charming, full of historical sights, stunning Cathedral, gorgeous lungomare.... Do not forget to go to the market in Ortygia - it is a real feast.
vinonobile987 is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 09:15 AM
  #11  
 
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Here’s our carless trip report:
Bruce and Marija: Carless in Sicily in November
Marija is online now  
Mar 9th, 2019, 09:19 AM
  #12  
 
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ah, now I understand. It is Ortygia in English but Ortigia in Italian (which has no "y")
so on that logic it should be Syracuse in English and Siracusa iin Italian

I only mention it as I'm learning Italian and every time we mention these places I get confused

whitehall, thanks for the photos
bilboburgler is online now  
Mar 9th, 2019, 02:40 PM
  #13  
 
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Fabulous Taormina

Some say there isn’t much to do in Taormina. If nothing else, the views of Mt. Etna and the coastline to the south from Taormina are exceptional. One time, we took some great nighttime photos of bright red lava coming down the mountainside.

Besides the wonderful hike up to Castelmola and the castle ruins above the village, the Greco Theatre is one of the most photographed spots in Sicily. Go there and you will see why. This is a theater that is in such good shape that many noted musicians have performed there , Paul Simon, Sting, Tony Bennett, Elton John, etc. And we enjoyed the quiet and serenity of Trevelyan Gardens. It is a must see. The eccentric British aristocrat, who owned Isola Bella, built a quirky but fascinating “garden” that’s more like a park, loaded with multi-story pavilions that are difficult to describe.

We did take the cable car to the sea at Mazzaro beach. We did not go to beautiful, small and rugged Isola Bella, an island connected at least at high tide by a spit of sand, where you will need beach shoes to get around on the pebbly beach, but it’s gorgeous. You can also take boat tours that take you to Taormina’s version of a blue grotto, and they can drop you off on the island. I am told there is a natural museum and a nature walk, but friends who went thought it not worth the even small entrance fee.

Here are some photos from a November trip a number of years ago. Street scene in morning before day trippers arrive, Greco Theatre, Etna view, Isola Bella, and three photos from Trevelyan Gardens.












whitehall is offline  
Mar 9th, 2019, 02:45 PM
  #14  
kja
 
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Actually, there's a lot more than that to Taormina -- but still not so much that you can't see before and after a day trip or two. A good guidebook, like the Rough Guide, should provide reasonably comprehensive coverage.

Last edited by kja; Mar 9th, 2019 at 02:54 PM.
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