Mar 2nd, 2005, 06:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
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Traveling to Sicily June 30-July 16, 2005

What should I pack for my family of 4? Would
jeans be OK? shorts? Seeking a Villa in the area of Taormina any suggestions? Will also meet with
another family of 4 and will need a Villa to accommodate 8 for our last week in Sicily. Planning to depart from Catania any suggestions? What are some of the must sees?
This is our first journey to Sicily would like to make the most of our two weeks. Not intersted in the palermo area.
paloma1 is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 05:43 AM
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We spent time in Sicily last August. I recommend packing very light summer clothes; Sicily is HOT in the summer. We had to change clothes pretty frequently so ended up doing laundry at a laudromat in Siracusa halfway through the trip. Certainly dress casually; Sicily is generally very laidback and you shouldn't need anything too fancy -- sundresses for women, light khaki pants for men should be fine for dinner just about anywhere.

During our time, we were in Palermo, Cefalu, Siracusa and Taormina. I liked them all but my favorite was Siracusa. Very historic, walkable, laidback, and the best meal we had was lunch at a cheap family-run spaghetteria. (So good we went back for lunch the next day. And the day after.)

Taormina was gorgeous but way too crowded in August; July should be better. Sorry I can't help with villa ideas.

My husband travels to Sicily every few years to visit his extended family (no, he's not in the mob!) and he loves the monestary at Erice, but we didn't get a chance to go there.

I know you said you didn't want to go to Palermo, but there are some good sites nearby. Cefalu is a cute little beach town about an hour by train from Palermo; if you're in that part of the island it's worth a stop. Probably the friendliest people we met while we were there. Monreale is kind of a suburb of Palermo and has an unbelievable cathedral with the interior decorated entirely in mosaics; really stunning.

One other thing: the beaches at Taormina and Cefalu are not what I was expecting, coming from the East Coast of the US. They are very small and pebbly and reminded me more of a swimming area at a lake. Still fun and relaxing, but not what I had expected. I saw some more deserted beach areas on the train between Siracusa and Taormina, so if you have access to a car it might be worth seeking out a more secluded area.

Have fun!
oliviadawg is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 07:24 PM
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Jeans are fine--just about anywhere but in hot weather, why take jeans which are hot take up a lot of suitcase room. At that time of year, I would stick to lightweight, no-wrinkle, easy laundry clothes. If you rent a villa, there will probably be a washing machine. We rented a great villa on the east coast. Check out my report and pictures of our November trip to get an idea of the treat ahead of you.
janelp is offline  
Mar 5th, 2005, 04:56 AM
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HI. I'm also thinking about Sicily for this summer. Jane your web site is great (I've also run across it when researching Spain, also great info). My main question is how long to spend in Sicily. we'll have almost 3 weeks total but I'm wondering if that is too long, especially in the heat of summer. We really aren't interested in hanging out at a beach or villa/pool. We don't want to rush from place to place, but we don't want to just hang out in one place for a week either. So my question to jane and olivia (and anyone else) is - would you recommend two weeks in Sicily and then go somewhere else (like Switzerland - cooler and different) - or would you say stay in Sicily the whole time. I find this hard to believe but round trip flights in and out of Sicily are several hundred dollars MORE than an open jaws into Sicily and home (NY or Boston) from Switzerland. So even with the expense of getting between the two it would not cost more. So what do you think?
isabel is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 07:54 AM
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I kind of hate to give advice about how long to stay because it's going to depend on your personal preferences. My husband could probably spend a month in Sicily and still not be ready to leave, while if I had that kind of time I'd probably want to split it up with a different location. Our last trip was 10 days and we didn't get to go to all of the towns we wanted, but I was pretty much ready to go home.

There's not really many big tourist sites to see in Sicily so if you are the kind of traveller that must "do" something all the time, I would recommend splitting it up. For us, anyway, Sicily was about wandering around, people watching at cafes, midday naps, afternoon gelato, and eating fabulous meals every night. There were some site seeing days thrown in, but it's not like Rome or Florence where you can spend entire days visiting landmarks and still not see everything.

Sicily is a lot more rough around the edges than most parts of Europe and Italy, and Palermo especially is a little grimey. For some people that's unsettling, but for others it's charming, so consider that when deciding how long to stay.

I've been to Switzerland and it's probably as different from Sicily as you can get, so that might be an interesting juxtaposition. Whatever you decide, have fun!
oliviadawg is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 11:53 AM
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I think a trip to the Aeolian Islands is a must. We have been to Lipari and could have stayed there a week. Several of the hotels have pools and there are lovely beaches outside of the town. You can also take a boat ride to some of the other islands. I wish we had had enough time to plan that.
TravelsWithStDavid is offline  
Mar 6th, 2005, 12:20 PM
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Not many tourists sites to see in Sicily? I couldn't disagree more!

1. Monreale outside of Palermo
2. Palazzo dei Normanni, Palermo
3. Segesta
4. Selinunte
5. Agrigento
6. Piazza Armerina
7. The Duomo, Siracusa
8. Mt. Etna
9. Greek Theatre at Taormina
10. La Scala at Caltagirone

This is just the beginning of what Sicily has to offer... In 10 nights I only was able to see 7 out of the 10 I listed.
AP6380 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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Of course I didn't mean to imply there isn't a lot to see in Sicily. There is. But compared to Northern Italy, it doesn't have the "big" sites (the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo's David, the Trivi Fountain, the Coliseum, the Venitian canals, etc.) that attract most North Americans to Italy.
oliviadawg is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 08:17 AM
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I think you will be lucky to find villas now for the first half of July - July is when most Italians go on holiday, plus most of the rest of Europe with school-age kids. Flights might be difficult now too.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 02:44 PM
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<<My husband travels to Sicily every few years to visit his extended family (no, he's not in the mob!)....>>
This is an incredibly stupid and offensive comment.

And this comment is just plain wrong: <<There's not really many big tourist sites to see in Sicily....>>

For better advice, read AP6380's post and search for any threads where GAC posted.
cmt is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 03:03 PM
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We traveled to the Amalfi Coast with my sister and brother-in-law and his parents a few years ago. The father-in-law's family came from Sicily and he speaks enough Italian to make conversation with the locals. Whenever he was asked where his family came from he would tell them Sicily, which inevitably evoked the response -- "Ah, Mafioso". It exists, everyone knows it, what's wrong with mentioning it?
Tries2PakLite is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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There's a difference between a tourist and a traveler. A tourist will only go where everyone else goes (Rome, Venice and Florence) and a travel will branch out and see places that are equally interesting but not so mainstream.

You just need to figure out where you fit and go with it. There's organized crime in other parts of Italy, not just Sicily!
AP6380 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 04:57 PM
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oops... traveler, not travel!
AP6380 is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 05:04 PM
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Gee, I hope there is something to see in Sicily--or is that ON Sicily. We will be spending 16 days there in May and staying at 5 different locations. The 3 books I have read seem to suggest several places of interest. I will report when we get back.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 06:31 PM
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Triestopacklite said: <<"Ah, Mafioso". It exists, everyone knows it, what's wrong with mentioning it?>>

I really didn't think it would be necessary to explain this, but maybe it is. What was particularly stupid and offensive about Oliviadawg's comment was not simply that she gratuitously mentioned "the mob," which, of course exists, though it happens to be irrelevant to the topic of this travel thread, but that, by explaining, even jokingly, that her husband, though Sicilian, was not in the mob, she seemed to be assuming that the readers of her post--i.e. all of us--would be ignorant low-life bigots who automatically think "Mafia" whenever they hear that someone is of Sicilian descent.
cmt is offline  
Mar 11th, 2005, 10:08 PM
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cmt, thank you for your post. I too cringed at that remark. I am not Sicilian, but sure have friends as close as family that are. The mob comment gets so tiresome. Mille grazie!

Also, may I in a gentle way say that the Sistine Chapel, the Trevi Fountain etc. sites in Rome, are not considered in northern Italy. They are in Rome.

Now there is always discussions among Italians as to where northern Italy, central Italy and southern Italy begin and end but Rome has never, to my knowledge, been considered part of northern Italy.
LoveItaly is offline  
Mar 12th, 2005, 01:33 AM
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Just type Sicily into the search at the top and many posts will pop up, with lots of ideas. Sicily is FAB - have a wonderful trip.
mousireid is offline  
Mar 12th, 2005, 01:59 AM
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cmt -- your explanation, and thank you for that, I was really in the dark there after reading your post, intimates that every one of the Italians that said "Ah, Mafioso", and there were a lot of them (it became a running joke), were all low-life, ignorant bigots. That's painting with a rather broad brush.
Tries2PakLite is offline  
Mar 12th, 2005, 05:11 AM
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Personally I took Oliviadawg's remark about the mob as a light hearted joke. My Italian friends make jokes like that all the time. I can't believe anyone would take offense by it. I suppose that's one of the "problems" of a forum like this - we can't hear inflections in people's voices when they speak so sometimes take things wrong.

Anyway, olivia, I appreciate your thoughts as to the amount of time to spend in Sicily. I know something like that is personal preference, but it helps to hear other people's opinions.
isabel is offline  
Mar 12th, 2005, 07:02 AM
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Pak Lite: I'll try to be more precise. I think that those people who automatically think "Mafia" when they hear that someone's Sicilian are either extremely ignorant or bigoted or, in many instances, both. The "low-life" label was slight hyperbole reflecting my own personal opinion of those people who are both. I hope you yourself were painting with a "broad brush" when you described the widespread "Mafia" comments when Italians were told that your husband's family is from Sicily. But, if that was supposed to be "humor" on their part, it was a particularly clumsy, rude, unkind, unimaginative, and tiresome attempt at humor, and, at worst, might possibly have reflected the very traits I referred to above.

Returning to the travel issue: Except for Venice, the places that Oliviadawg referred to as in "northern Italy" are not in northern Italy. Florence is considered "central Italy," and Rome is often considered a dividing point between central and southern Italy.

To answer Paloma's question about clothes: I would suggest that the grown-ups NOT wear shorts or very bare sundresses in Palermo. Actually, it would be better to avoid that kind of dress anywhere in Sicily except at a beach or in a place where vacationers outnumber local working people (e.g., Taormina, or an archeological site where everyone's a tourist, foreign or not). However, any very light, not sloppy, casual clothes, in any color, that are not extremely revealing, would be fine. (Old-fashioned Sicilians--and there are still lots of them--might frown upon very revealing dress in women and would find shorts on a grown man comical.)

There are too many "must sees" to list in a single post, and anyway, you don't have to see them all in one trip. There are many good threads here about Sicily, including trip reports by AP and RA (was it RA, the American who was going to school in Bologna, I think, who took a spring trip to Sicily and really saw a lot?) and very good practical advice by GAC re public transportation.
cmt is offline  

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