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Kate Mar 15th, 2011 08:46 AM

Sicily experts – help me plan my journey
Hello everyone, gosh it's been YEARS since I posted for help on here.

I'm planning a June trip to my holiday home in Puglia but am in the early stages of planning a trip to Sicily first, mainly because my partner is desperate to go there. Having explored all travel options from London–Sicily–Puglia, I've decided to take the plunge and fly to Palermo, then spend 7-9 days driving my way up to Puglia (near Brindisi, specifically). I will have 14-20 days for this trip in total, but want to spend at least 5 days at the end of the trip in Puglia.

I don't want a crazy sightseeing trip involving multiple hotel changes, and it's very important we have some relaxation/beach time along the way (my partner gets a bit twitchy if I drag her into too many churches ;-) . Having said that, I certainly want to do some sightseeing as my only other visit to Sicily (to Cefalu) involved eating and sunbathing and not much else!

My current plan – and it's really the middle bit I need help with here – is:

Day 1: Fly London-Palermo
Taxi/bus into Palermo, stay 2 nights
Day 3: Pick up hire car and speed across country (stopping somewhere en route for lunch - any suggestions?)
Arrive somewhere on the east coast for 4 nights which allows beach time, good food, walking from hotel to restaurants in town in the evening (so no country hotels), good base for sightseeing (with the car). I'm hovering over Taormina, although have reservations (poor beach, a bit too glitzy, overpriced food?). I'd love any alternative suggestions.
Day 7: Drive across to Calabria, stopping for 2/3 nights for a journey break in Tropea.
Day 9/10: Full speed across country to Puglia (I'm happy for this to be a purely travel day).

So, can anyone help with the middle portion – a good base for the east coast?

Thanking you in advance!

Michael Mar 15th, 2011 08:53 AM

You might want to take a look at my trip report; just click on my name to find it.

Kate Mar 15th, 2011 09:02 AM

Thanks Michael, I've just had a look at your report and... yikes! ... it sounds like you had a nightmare! I couldn't see anywhere where you stayed that might fit my bill for a good 4 day base on the east coast - do you have any suggestions?

humptynumpty Mar 15th, 2011 09:02 AM


We spent a week which was limited to the east coast and saw most of that coast. Ortigia is lovely but there is no beach and I would agree with you regarding Taormina about all your observations.

I could be wrong but I don't think the town you are looking for exists on the east coast. There are a couple of resorts south of Ortigia which have decent beaches but they were fairly scruffy. There is a good beach at Vendicari but is is a deserted nature reserve which no facilities.

I would concentrate on the north coast.

Incidentally have you ever considered Elba or Sardinia? They both have lots of lovely quiet beach type resorts which good food

Kate Mar 15th, 2011 09:05 AM

Hi Humptyhumpty, no, we definately want to go to Sicily, particularly as we want to drive up to Puglia and my SO is very keen to go. Is there somewhere on the north coast you would recommend (other than Cefalu)?

humptynumpty Mar 15th, 2011 09:13 AM


Sorry, we didn't visit the north coast but I would do very thorough planning (unlike the Sicilians). Some of the coastal development in Sicily hasn't gone through any planning process and so can be very unstructured. Some of the coastal towns like Marina Di Noto and Marina D'Avola were simply awful.

We have spent years lazing around small Greek, Spanish and Italian coastal towns and were fairly shocked by some of Sicily.

There is some very diverse Baroque architecture and Oritiga is a loevly, lovely place. Some the coast would leave you heading for home on the next plane.

Plan carefully.

bon_voyage Mar 15th, 2011 09:20 AM

Ortigia has everything you want except the beach. You may get some additional ideas from the TA Sicily forum.

Lily Mar 18th, 2011 11:16 AM

Another vote for Ortigia.

bobthenavigator Mar 18th, 2011 04:44 PM

Hello Kate, here is my trip report from 2005. I think Taormina is special and I would base there.

bobthenavigator Mar 18th, 2011 04:44 PM

Hello Kate, here is my trip report from 2005. I think Taormina is special and I would base there.

dutyfree Mar 18th, 2011 07:13 PM

Definitely Ortigia-the nearest thing to heaven on Earth!

humptynumpty Mar 19th, 2011 07:20 AM

"Definitely Ortigia-the nearest thing to heaven on Earth!"

Can't be - it is nowhere near...

Which is heaven on earth.

buongiorno Apr 5th, 2011 07:18 PM

We're going to Sicily in May and through the help of a friend who writes travel guides about Sicily, we're staying in Modica in the southeast as a base for several nights. That way, we'll be in a smaller town which we prefer and take day trips to Siracusa, Noto, Ragusa and Caltagirone. If we have time we'll get to Taormina this trip. Although not within your plan, we will then travel the southern coast over a couple of days toward Selinunte and eventually end up in Erice as another base for a few nights before flying back to Torino.

barefootbeach Apr 7th, 2011 03:19 PM

Where are you staying in Modica? Sounds like a good plan.

Leely2 Apr 7th, 2011 05:03 PM

Though this doesn't meet any of Kate's requirements, I recently stayed in Modica and loved it. It was my favorite stop in Sicily though Siracusa/Ortigia ran a close second. No wait, it's a tie. They're dead even. In Modica we stayed at Casa Talia and on Ortigia at Palazzo del Sale. Both were tops.

I also really enjoyed Palermo, lots to see and do.

bon_voyage Apr 7th, 2011 06:34 PM

Leely, welcome back! Looking forward to hearing more.

buongiorno Apr 18th, 2011 05:20 PM

To answer Barefoot's question, we're staying at Casa Talia which Leely mentions.

Very happy to hear it was "tops" Leely!

CharlieCA Apr 18th, 2011 10:01 PM

Leely2 and buongiorno: I'd like a full report on recommended activities and restaurants in and near Modica. I'm staying in Modica for for five nights in September (and one night in Catania -- late arrival so stay there first night in Sicily). Thanks.

Leely2 Apr 20th, 2011 05:43 PM

Modica feels like a real town where people work, kids go to school, etc. I believe there are over 100 churches, so plenty to visit. Check the Michelin Green Guide for more detailed suggestions--we did a lot of ambling around and poking into places but wanted more time in the town. Tons of shops to sample chocolate.

If you are interested in fine dining, Ristorante La Gazza Ladra is excellent. Many people like Osteria Sapori Perduti but I thought it was a tourist trap. People staying at our B and B loved La Rusticana but we did not have time to visit.

Have fun in Modica! It is very scenic and a great jumping-off point for other places to see in the area.

bon_voyage Apr 20th, 2011 06:49 PM

As Leely said, Modica lends itself to leisurely exploration. The little rock church of San Nicola in town was interesting to see, particularly since I'd hoped to see rock churches hiking the Cava d'Ispica which we didn't have time for. Ragusa Ibla was an easy and very worthwhile daytrip. I had the folk museum (Museo delle Arti e Tradizioni Popolari) on my list but it was closed while we were there. You can click on my name for my trip report.

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