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SICILY-8 nts.Celebrating Mom's 70th- Itinerary Help, Please?

SICILY-8 nts.Celebrating Mom's 70th- Itinerary Help, Please?

Jun 26th, 2008, 12:53 PM
  #1  
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SICILY-8 nts.Celebrating Mom's 70th- Itinerary Help, Please?

Hello! I would love suggestions for an 8 nt. itinerary Oct.25-08 to Nov.2-08. I'm taking my mom (70th B-Day, but she's still active), and we'll be using public transport (thought of driving, but heard it was crazy?). I know that Ruins are a big part of Sicily, but having been to all of Greece, Italy, Cental America, Asia, and Egypt, we've seen our share. Which is the one "Must See"? After that, we'd really love just absorbing the culture and people, dining, museums, and 'meandering'. We fly in to Palermo, and out of Catania.
Any help would be SO appreciated.
Thank you!
beethova is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 01:02 PM
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This may help. I would stay north and see Palermo, Cefalu, and Toarmina in your time.
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34620334
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 02:08 PM
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Thanks, Bob. I just read through your itinerary and I really wish we had more time. It sounds fantastic. Do you think if we rented a car, we could accomplish more? I noticed is that everyone seems to be driving. I'm from Chicago and have even driven on the left in NZ; however, I heard terrible reports about it in Sicily. More questions:
I loved Valetta and Palermo sounds similar in feel; yes/ no? If so, that would be 3 nights. Taormina sounds picture postacrd pretty (2 or 3 nights)? Also, would Erice/area be possible, instead of Cefalu (2-3 nights depending on your Taormina time recommendation), so we could get in the Medeival town, which we always enjoy? Or is Cefalu it? Thanks!
beethova is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 03:13 PM
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It depends if you want to get a car. The 3 places I mentioned are easy to do by train[ the station for Taormina is Giardino-Naxos].
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jun 26th, 2008, 04:18 PM
  #5  
 
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We just returned from 11 days in Sicily. We drove, and yes, the driving is insane. If I had it to do it again I'd either take the train or go on a tour. My husband is an excellent driver with, thankfully, good reflexes, so we didn't have any accidents, but it was without doubt the most stressful of our many driving tours, including the Amalfi coast road.

One of the "must-see's", IMHO, is the Valley of the Temples near Agrigento. I have no idea about possible train connections, but you could take a guided bus tour from Taormina. In the event that you decide to drive, I recommend staying at Villa Diana, booked through Venere, located between Agrigento and the Valley. We enjoyed the best meal we had in Sicily in a restaurant near the guesthouse, car essential.

In Taormina, we stayed at Villa Schuler which has a lovely view from the terrace and the front bedrooms. While there, meander along the shopping streets, then go see the Greek theater. From the hotel you can get information and book several tours from Taormina including Mt. Etna among others.

I'm the same age as your mother so she should be fine if she's active and relatively fit. Since there are many, many stairs, steps, hills, etc., and few flat surfaces except at sea level, she should prepare by walking and/or stair stepping so that her legs won't go wobbly.

Another place we enjoyed was Ortygia Island next to Siracusa. We didn't see the ruins in Siracusa because by that time we were about "ruined-out" so we just meandered through the lovely medieval town on the island. There is a beautiful duomo and piazza where people-watching is fun.

If you're flying out of Catania, you'll learn there are no airport hotels, but downtown is a short taxi ride. I don't know your budget or expectations for a hotel, but I can recommend a reasonably priced hotel in Catania, Hotel Savona, booked through www.booking.com. The hotel looks a bit tired outside, but the interior is fresh and the room was large and comfortable. The staff were extremely courteous and helpful, carrying our luggage upstairs (no lift) and arranging an early morning taxi for us.

Good luck, have fun and tell your mom "happy birthday" from a contemporary. (I'll be celebrating my big one in Cornwall)
crckwc1 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 03:19 PM
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Hi,

I love Sicily. I've been there twice for about 10 days each.

I would rent a car, you can just do more and it's more convenient by far. You will get used to the driving. The rule is just be aggressive and he who hesitates is lost.

Here are my must dos and I'll put then in regional order to help you think about this.

North east corner

- Aeolian Islands -- try to make time for these, they are amazing and people don't go there. You get to see a live volcano from a boat at Stromboli and Lipari is amazing too. These are a UNESCO world heritage site

- Taormina is nice, but I would just stop there for lunch and walk around the town for an hour, it's really not that special. The main attraction is the view and roman theater.

- Cefalu - This is the one town I've never been to but everyone says it's nice.

- Cantania. I would skip it.

South east corner.

I would base myself in Orytiga and make sure to do all the following

- Orytiga is amazing and the Sircusa park has a great greek theater.

- Noto is a really pretty Baroque town

- Mosacis at Piazza Amermina

Each one of these is a UNESCO world heritage site.

South Coast
-Valley of the Temples (don't spend a night there, no nice places in Agrigento)

- Seliunte - more greek temple ruins which are very different from Agriento. My rents and I thought it was a toss of up which temples were more interesting.

Northwest Corner

- Erice. Spend the night there. There are two amazing hotels. One is an old castle and is pricey, the other is hotel Elmo. I've stayed in both. Both are nice.

- Marsala/Trapani - Read about these places and see if they interest you. I could skip them, but they are interesting

- Segata. You know I did not find this that interesting, but other people love it. There is a temple and a greek theather there.

Palermo

-- you have Palermo and Monreale in this area. I don't think Palermo is worth going to and unfortunately, I've missed Monreale twice.

So, given you Itinerary, I would rent a car. See Montrale, blow off Palermo all together.

Then, drive to Erice spend the night there.

Next day, I would drive to Senulate and Agregento ( you can do this in a day, we did it and my dad is 67).

There is a great resort (that is not to pricey right about an hour out past the temples. It has this awesome view of the Sea and a killer castle.

Then, hope to Sircusa and spend a few days, do Noto, Sircusa, the mosacis. Do not drive to Ragusa. Poor dad has not recovered from that hill town and driving there.

Then drive up to Milizzo, but on the way, stop at Taormina for lunch. At Milizzo catch the ferry or Hydrofoil to the Aeolians for a couple days. Then, get back to Catania.

It need to be flushed out a little more, but that is a trip that should work. You might take some sites out and put others in.

I just got back from there with my parents about 2 months ago and our vote for the best site was the Aeolian islands and the temples. We did not do Segata and I have done the mosaics and thinking they are amazing and a must see, but we skipped them this time.

While I think there is great Sicily knowledge on this forum, the best Sicily help you can get is actually on the Trip Advisor fourm for Sicily. There is a woman there that goes by Vagabonda and she is just amazing and would love to help you figure this out.

Here is the link. http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowForum...43-Sicily.html

That is not to say we wont help, but she will post extremely detailed information and help you figure things out on a level I know I do have the time to do.

Good luck on the trip. I had a grand time with my parents in Sicily.
galaxygrrl200 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 03:41 PM
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opps meant, "don't have the time to do"

galaxygrrl200 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 04:22 PM
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Ditto to skip Palermo. We based in Monreale and drove to Segesta and Erice one day and one day into Palermo which was a disappointment. Only drawback to Monreale is that driving the very narrow medieval streets is challenging.

Ditto Catania -- just a place to sleep before flight out.
crckwc1 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 08:13 PM
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My Sicily trip report is here: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=35133064

If you're flying into Palermo definitely make sure to see Monreale. I would also recommend overnighting in Erice. I liked Trapani, but Erice is magical and you don't have a lot of time. Erice and Ortigia were my favorite places - although Taormina is scenic it's also very touristy.

I love mosaics, so I also enjoyed the Villa Casale, but it might be a bit difficult by public transport.

thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 29th, 2008, 09:30 PM
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If you've seen your "share" of ruins, it's hard to recommend a sightseeing itinerary for Sicily that doesn't involve driving. I think I would suggest taking your mother to see Monreale (since you're landing in Palermo) and then heading for Ortygia. Ortygia is flat and small and a good place to get to know, with beautiful piazzas, cool sea breezes, a fantastic open air food market and still some authentic life beyond tourism. And it's got a fascinating history that doesn't require a lot of marching around ruins to appreciate. Before you leave Sicilia, spend a night or two in Taormina.
zeppole is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 04:21 AM
  #11  
 
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We were in Sicily for the first time last summer. I got much of my information here, and was especially inspired by bobthenavigator's trip reports & photos. We too were only there for 1 week. Hope you find this quick description of our itinerary helpful:

Day 1 - Fly to Palermo, walk around, shop the markets, etc. Stayed at Hotel Principe Villafranca. Really liked this hotel and had both dinners at area restaurants that they recommended. Note - it is a good walk from the "downtown" - even our teens took a rest before dinner.

We really liked Palermo - VERY friendly people, interesting to walk around, a different feel from other parts of Italy that we have visited. I'd go back.

Day 2 - Teenage son wanted to see the Capuchin Catacombs so we took a taxi there. Driver waited for us (didn't take long) and then suggested that we let him take us to Monreale. This was a HIGHLIGHT of our Palermo visit and I can't believe I had originally thought to miss it. Well worth it to pay the taxi to take us, as the road there was very crowded - but this is really a don't miss sight.

Day 3 - My family is from Corleone so originally we planned to rent our car and drive from Palermo. Again, had our taxi driver convince us to let him drive to Corleone instead. It was great as we basically ended up with a private guide/translator who helped me get copies of birth & marriage certificates! He then drove us to the car rental and we left Palermo. We actually got out of the city relatively easily and we found driving in Sicily to be great. The expressways are new, wide, and almost empty in June. We made great time to our next stop - Trapani, outside Marsala, staying at a B&B - Baglio Spano.

Day 4 - Daytrip to see Segestra (greek ruins if you want to skip it) and Erice. Again, no problem driving here - pretty easy.

Day 5 - Leave Trapani seeing Selinunte (more ruins) on the way, but missed Agrigento. I couldn't decide between wanting to see the Baroque part of Sicily (i.e. Siracusa) and Taormina so I picked a B&B in Acireale - a wonderful little town halfway between Catania & Taormina. This was our favorite place to stay with the NICEST owners. I highly recommend Palazzo Giovanni - views of the sea and Mt. Etna, and a great location for a flexible schedule.

Day 6 - Decided to tour Siracusa. Loved the city - easy drive to the main parking lot then walked all around.

Day 7 - Morning drive to Mt. Etna (did not take the jeep tour). Left and did a wine tasting (set up by our B&B owners) on our way to Taormina. Walk around & dinner in Taormina. While I do think this is a very pretty town, I'm glad we did not stay there as we preferred to use this time to do daytrips. But if I were looking for just a place to stay for a few nights, I can see the attraction.

Day 8 - Drive (via ferry) to Italian mainland.

We loved Sicily and I think you'll have a great time no matter where you end up.
AtlTravelr is offline  
Jun 30th, 2008, 05:24 AM
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I agree that you should not miss Monreale, but no need to pay for a taxi if you don't want to drive. The bus from Piazza Indipendenza will drop you right in front of the cathedral, and leaves to go back from just down the street. Bus tickets - from Tabacchi - are good for 120 minutes.
thursdaysd is offline  
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