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sicily

Old Sep 21st, 2011, 04:30 AM
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sicily

Planning two weeks in Sicily. Looking for suggestions for 2 bases. Eastern and Western. I don't usually like to change rooms too many times. Also, should we spend some days in Rome or will Sicily be enough for two weeks. Love food, history, ruins, wine. This is a last minute trip, last two weeks of October 2011. Two adults in 50's active. Previously have traveled to Venice, Rome, Tuscany.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 04:52 AM
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Two weeks in Sicily sounds ideal. We were there for 10 days and were only able to scratch the surface. Normally I find myself recommending fewer hotel changes but in this case, I would consider 3 or 4 depending on the itinerary you select. Distances are long in Sicily and driving to major destinations from two bases will mean a lot of driving cutting into the time you have to enjoy your destination. In 10 days, we spent 3 in Palermo, 1 in Agrigento, 1 in Enna to visit Piazza Armerino, 2 in Siracusa and 3 in Taormina. We did day trips from Palermo, Taormina and Siracusa. While I normally do not like to move so often, in Sicily it worked better than to try to see everything from 2 bases.

If you do elect to see the island from 2 bases, we will be better able to help you if you tell us what you want to see while there.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 05:13 AM
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I agree that 2 bases would just mean a whole lot of car time. Sicily looks small but as soon as you leave the (few) major expressways, driving through towns really slows you down - not to mention parking etc. Take the suggested driving times & add 50% minimum. We ended up with 5 different locales - Taormina, Siracusa, Modica, Menfi & Palermo. 2-3 nights everywhere except for a vacation (within a vacation) in Modica for 4 nights.

see http://members.rennlist.org/imcarthur/sicily.htm

Ian
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 05:53 AM
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Click on my name above to find my trip report from 2005. I agree that 2 weeks is about right, but I would have 4 base locations. Here are some pics:

http://www.slowphotos.com/photo/show...y.php?cat=3828
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 06:32 AM
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Thinking of flying in Catania and out of Palermo. Would like to see Mt. Etna, temples in Segesta and Selinunte, possibly Cefalu, Villa Romana del Casale, Taormina, Siracusa, and sites in Palermo. Thought maybe renting someplace on the beach in Taormina. We also like walking access to city for restaurants. What do you think of staying in Palermo? I have stayed in Naple with a car, so I think I could manage that. Also, does anyone know if there are ferrys to Lecce for a day trip. Help. I usually plan trips months in advance, but my husband couldn't get approval for vacation until yesterday!
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 07:40 AM
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You may want to read my trip report; click on my name to find it.

I suspect that you will need three bases: east, central and west.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 08:11 AM
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I loved Palermo. You can drop your car at the airport and take public transport or a taxi into the city. Palermo is relatively small and easy to get around on foot. A car would be a hindrance. You can take the train from Palermo to Cefalu.
Stay up in Taormina.
If you're into ruins, don't overlook Agrigento.
Check the opening dates and times for the Villa Romana del Casale when they're posted for October to be sure it will be open when you're there.
Here's the link to my trip report. We also had about 2 weeks:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ecial-trip.cfm
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 08:50 AM
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Read both trip reports---that is what they are for.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 09:01 AM
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Go with a very open mind. We have travelled all over Italy north of Rome. The south can be a stark contrast in terms of the lack of planning applied to modern architecture, the driving and crime.

We also went in the last week of October, it rained most of week and we had "issues" with the standards of driving.

Siracusa made for a lovely base and saved the trip really, we were not at all impressed by Taormina which is very tourist driven and tacky in places.

Modica and Ragusa have beautiful architecture but again there is an awful lot of unplanned new development. We enjoyed the chocolate shops and cafes of Modica.

In short, Sicily is very different culture to the north.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 10:31 AM
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Best places for two bases in Sicily are Palermo and Siracusa. I used only public transportation while in Sicily and it was surprisingly good. There is almost always an option of both train and coach bus between all towns. To give you an idea of travel time: I did a day trip from Palermo to Agrigento by train (I was able to see the Valli dei Templi and the Museum and excavations up there and also the excavations on the other side of the road at Valle dei Templi and I caught the last train back to Palermo all in one day. And this was way off season in February right when the almonds started to bloom.
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Old Sep 21st, 2011, 11:17 AM
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You will find a lot to do in two weeks of tremendous interest, so adding Rome will complicate your trip unnecessarily.

If you've been to Naples, Palermo isn't going to make you blink as a driver, but it is intense. If you are attracted to a beach locale, you might consider basing in Cefalu and using public transportation to see the sites you want to see in Palermo.

I agree with the remarks about Taormina and would suggest that you see the marvelous Greek theater there as a day trip rather than overnight there. You will be able to look at Mt Etna, which can be seen for miles, but access to it is limited right now.

I don't think it is a problem that you aren't planning everything in advance. Too many people go to Sicily and attack it as if it was an empty country except for isolated tourist sites. But it is actually an extremely rich culture, with many points of historic interest, from many different eras. I also recommend that you consider seeing the baroque towns of Modica, but also leave some air in your trip to spend days at olive farms and fishing ports.

Sicily doesn't have great vinyards, but it does have historic olive oil and some extraordinary markets. It has an extraordinary cuisine along with its multi-layered history.

There is a woman who posts on Tripadvisor's Sicily board who is Sicilian and could help you, I think, see a lot of what's representative of Sicily without necessarily trying to cover the island geographically. You should let your curisousity guide you to intimate corners of Sicily, not the idea that you should blanket as much of the island as you can when it comes to the photo-op tour.
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Old Oct 5th, 2011, 03:07 PM
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Just came back from Sicily and I think it might be better to have several locations to stay in so that you don't spend as much time driving, but more time seeing the sights. We stayed in Palermo 2 nights but spent one of those days seeing Cefalu and Monreale. We then Spent 1 night in Erice and also visited the ruins at Segesta. From there we drove through Selinuite, stopped for lunch in Scicca and on to Aggrigento and finally arrived in Caltagirone for 2 nights. While there we took a day trip to Piazza Armerina. We then spent two nights in Ragusa, 1 night i Siracusa and two nights in Taormina. We also spent two days on the island of Lipari and the final night was spent in Catania where we left for home. All in all we spent 13 days on the island and we loved it and we did move around quite a bit, but we were determined to see as much as possible. A GPS is mandatory - driving there can be frustrating.
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 08:03 AM
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We liked Taormina and didn't find it tacky in the least. Very touristy, yes, but upscale. The town is lovely, the views from up there magnificent. If you stay down at the beach, you won't be in Taormina proper. There's a gondola lift that connects the town with the beach.

It would be much more difficult to get to Selinunte, Segesta and the Villa Romana at Casale without your own car.

I agree with dropping the car at the airport before arriving in Palermo. You just don't need it in the city and, if you stay central, I can't imagine where one parks a car. And how much it costs.
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 08:53 AM
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Wow, I'm just impressed that you stayed in Naples with a car! I've driven in Italy and Sicily and don't have too much issue with it, but I was blown away by the sheer traffic chaos in Naples.
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Old Oct 7th, 2011, 04:26 AM
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Travel planning update.

8 nights Sicily and 7 nights Rome

Fly from Boston to Catania. Pick up car rental.

Drive to Riposa stay at Agriturismo Azienda dell Etna-3 nights
(280 Euro total half board)
Day trips to Mt. Etna, Taormina,Siracusa

Drive to Selinunte stay Terrazzo di Venere 3 nights (180 Euro total with breakfast.

Stop at Villa Romana Casale on our way.

Day trips to Agrigento, Segesta, ruins of selinunte

Drive to Palermo drop car stay at Palazzo Montevago Apartment 2 nights (180 Euro total w/breakfast)

Stop in Monreale on the way.

Tour around Palermo. Easy Jet from Palermo to Rome.

ROME
This is a return trip to Rome. Husband loves Rome and was eager to return.

Take train from the Airport check into Apartment Leisure Rome Good Luck Oca close to Spanish Steps. 7 nights (730 euro)

Booked Underground Colosseum Tour
Booked 3 hour Vatican, Sistene Chapel, St. Peter's Tour
Still trying to Book Borghese Museum Tour
Leisure days roaming Rome.

Any other suggestions.... Read all the great travel reports, purchased DK Eyewithness sicily, Frommer's Sicily travel guides, Michelin Sicily Map, Rick Steve's Rome and Translation Book.

Fun reading for the trip: That Summer in Sicily, On Persephone's Island, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling, Not Built in a Day: Exploring the architecture of Rome, The Stone Boudoir: Travels Through the Hidden Villages of Sicily,
The Genius in the Design: Bernini, Borromini, and the Rivalry That Transformed Rome
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Old Oct 7th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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I think you mean Riposto, not Riposa. Looking at its location, it seems closer to the little fisherman's village called Torre Archirafi where we rented an apartment a few years ago. Be aware that not only is English not widely spoken, but foreign-spoken Italian is not even widely understood. We had a somewhat hilarious episode one day where we had to have a shopkeeper play translater for us of our Italian with a bus driver who spoke only the Sicilian dialect. We had a wonderful time there however. There's a little bar/gelateria in Torre Archirafi called Skipper that we went to every day for our gelato fix or an afternoon cocktail. They also sell incredible marzipan confections and other pastry & candies, as well.

Be careful driving up Mt. Etna - we got sidewiped by a tour bus turning at a blind hairpin and ended up paying a 100 euro deductible on our rental bill, when it was the tour bus's fault entirely.
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Old Oct 7th, 2011, 12:03 PM
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If you haven't already booked your flight from Palermo to
Rome, i would suggest Windjet.

http://w1.volawindjet.it/default.aspx?lang=en

Could be even cheaper than Ryanair, and more customer friendly. I have flown them on several occasions with no problems.
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Old Oct 9th, 2011, 04:46 AM
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Thanks, I already booked Easy Jet. I think I paid 50 US dollars with extra baggage hold. I thought this was good since it is a direct flight, good times. Gail
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