Sicily - Advice Please

Old Aug 13th, 2015, 07:50 AM
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Sicily - Advice Please

Hello Forum!

I'm looking advice for locations in Sicily. It's important to note that I've visited Italy 5 times in my life, and lived in the North for a year. So I'm totally comfortable navigating small towns and speaking enough Italian. That said, I've never travelled south of Rome (I know, I know I'm missing out) and am returning in October.

My trip will consist of visiting Puglia and Amalfi coast (before finishing in Rome), but I want to START with 3-4 days in Sicily (and then fly over to Bari when I'm done).

Where do I base myself in Sicily? Right now, I'm leaning on Taormina, but feel that it may be a bit too touristy. I'm looking for the equivelant of what Montepulciano or Montalcino is to Tuscany - the smaller area that is "off the beaten path" but still beautiful and populus enough. I've considered basing myself in Palermo or Catania, and just doing day-trips from there? I'd also like to be somewhere that I can easily day-trip from, and/or somewhere where I can hike. Is there a cinque-terre of the south??

People have mentioned the Aeolian islands but I feel like that may be tough to do only in 2-3 days, especially as a base? Or is island hopping easy once on one island?

HELP!
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 09:13 AM
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Basing yourself in Taormina (or Siracusa) for the limited number of days mentioned probably eliminates a good deal of what there is to see in Sicily. I would get a guide book, decide what is most appealing to you and then consider the base that would allow you to see those sights.
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 10:15 AM
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Are there any places you'd recommend? To me, Taormina itself is worth seeing, as well as Etna or the Aeolian islands (whcih seem easily accessible from Taormina?)
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 12:55 PM
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Since you've never been to the south you may not appreciate that the small town culture and scenery and architecture is totally different than what you find in manicured, gated Tuscany, and it is not wine country but rich in other agricultural goods. That said, you might explore the idea of picking a baroque town -- Modica, Ragusa or Noto -- for that kind of stay. You would need a car.

I *think* but am not sure that you would find it easier to access that area by flying to Catania rather than Palermo. Or check out flying into Trapani and out of Catania -- or vice versa.

Taormina is super-touristy.
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 03:10 PM
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I did not like Taormina and it did not seem to be a take off point for the Aeolian islands--http://www.thethinkingtraveller.com/thinksicily/travel-to-and-around-sicily/travel-to-the-sicilian-islands/aeolian-islands.aspx

But it is at the base of Etna.

For me, Sicily was mainly the Greek ruins, the Roman mosaics (Pizza Armerina) and the Romanesque mosaics. But I did not get to Noto and the other Baroque towns.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...349637005/show
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 04:32 PM
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Well,
We loved Taormina.
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 05:17 PM
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not Pizza but Piazza Armerina
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Old Aug 13th, 2015, 05:33 PM
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"I want to START with 3-4 days in Sicily" -- in that case, you will need to be extremely selective, as Sicily can easily merit 2 weeks if not more. I don't think you can decide where to base until you decide what your priorities are.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 03:23 AM
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"Is there a cinque-terre of the south?"
May be the Amalfi Coast.

As to Sicily, there are 2 natural parks where you can hike along the Sea for miles:
Zingaro Park between Scopello and San Vito lo Capo;
Vendicari Park south of Noto.
Zingaro park is more scenic and offers more hiking possibilities.
There are no villages at all in these parks and those close to them are all but scenic.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 05:53 PM
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I beg to differ on the villages near Lo Zingaro and Vendicari. I thought Scopello was quite nice for scenery. I stayed in Scicli and drove to vendicari on the way to Ortigia. I did not find the driving distance from either to be terribly long, although there are other towns that are closer.

Ortigia is definitely not a village, but doesn't seem huge either. Easily walkable everywhere.
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Old Aug 14th, 2015, 07:51 PM
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I'm planning 2 weeks at the end of September, flying in and out of CTA.

I figured Taormina would be better than staying at Catania so I booked 2 nights there.

The idea is to visit the Aeolian and stay for 3 nights. What I'm finding is that it's easier to get to the Aeolian from Catania than Milazzo, unless you want to rent a car or hire a car service.

Going to stay in Salina and while a car could be useful there, I don't plan to take the car on a ferry, because it limits the water transport options I'd have.

Unless you can arrive in Sicily early in the day or can find a late ferry/hydrofoil, Aeolian probably won't work for 3-4 nights total in Sicily. Takes too long to get from the airport to Messina or Milazzo and then depending on which island, takes another couple of hours on the water.

If the OP has never been, no reason not to consider Taormina though he or she might prefer to go south to the Baroque cities instead in the short time.

Also second the comment that Sicily merits at least 2 weeks by itself. Maybe consider splitting time between Sicily and either Puglia or Amalfi.
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 07:58 AM
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"it's easier to get to the Aeolian from Catania than Milazzo".
Should probably be:
"it's easier to get to the Aeolian from Milazzo than Catania"
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 11:03 AM
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Hmm, I had completely different interests/goals when I went to Sicily but your question about hiking has piqued my interest. Hiking in Sicily is something I'd like to do someday too.

For what it's worth (granted, probably not much), I really enjoyed Modica. Staying on Ortigia was also very relaxing. Did not need a car for Ortigia. Loved Palermo but it doesn't sound like you want a bustling city?
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Old Aug 15th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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Sorry it should have been easier to get to Aeolian through Milazzo from CTA than from Taormina.

There are dedicated bus services which take people from the airport to Milazzo port.

But from Taormina, you'd have to change buses at least once.
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