Sicily in 2003

Apr 19th, 2003, 04:41 AM
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Sicily in 2003

Sicily Trip Write-up – April 2003

Our family (including a 2 and 6 year old) spent a week in Sicily in April 2003; here are some highlights.

The Agriturismo, Fattoria Manostalla Villa Chiarelli, in Balestrate near Palermo had very authentic, excellent food and was a true working, rustic, farm. They made/grew all their own dairy, jams, vegetables, etc… We next went to Monreale to see the gorgeous Cathedrale and then on to Agrigento and stayed in the Valley of the Temples. We splurged and stayed at Villa Athena and were glad that we did! We had Room 201 with an amazing balcony with a view of Temple Concordia. It’s true what everyone says, the location can’t be beat and the Valley of the Temples shouldn’t be missed when visiting Sicily. We ate an early dinner at Kokalos and they were very friendly and served an excellent selection of wines.

Next we drove on to Siracusa where we stayed at Limoneto, another agriturismo, organic lemons. The weather was nice, our children enjoyed the lawn and the playground equipment. The dinners were good, if simple, breakfast could have been better but was adequate. It was a great reasonable place to stay, the family was nice, and it was near to Siracusa, but out of the hubbub and traffic. We did a harbour ride around Ortygia, but mostly enjoyed wandering the streets aimlessly. Trattoria Archimede had an excellent antipasto buffet. Another highlight was the Saturday morning market – fish galore. We very much enjoyed the Neapolis Parco Archeologico – another set of ruins which we enjoyed were off the beaten track in Akrai (Palazzolo Acreide) – it’s lovely countryside on the outward drive.

Next we headed to Mt Etna where the tourist office in Lingualossa was very friendly. We headed up the snow-covered mountain to 1400 meters until where the road was destroyed by a massive lava flow. It was fun to climb the flow – you need good shoes and pants, some of the rocks were still warm from six months earlier.

Taormina was wonderful – we stayed at Hotel Villa Belvedere (lovely hotel, really comfortable beds) which was a short, pleasant walk from the main streets. Gambero Rosso was a great place to eat, yummy food and very friendly staff/owners. We walked by Grotta Azzurra which had amazing seafood and crustaceans. We rode the cable car down and ate twice down in Mazzaro Beach at a great little restaurant, Il Barcaiolo, fabulous vegetables, a truly, amazing lamb, and we had cicala, the Mediteranean lobster. We also took a boat excursion along the coast and saw the blue grotto and upward views of the town. The Greek Theatre was overrun with tourists and not as impressive versus what we saw in Siracusa. Taormina was lovely in April, already fairly full, it must be a nightmare in the peak of summer.

A few parting thoughts – Sicily has great, inexpensive wine! Especially the reds, house reds were excellent and bottles with Nero D’Avola excellent. Driving – A19 was good, other roads were a bit crazy and the drivers truly do whatever they want.

seticrandall is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:14 AM
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Thanks for the report. What kind of weather (temps, rain) did you experience in April?
Maddy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:17 AM
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Thanks for the write-up!

Out of curiosity, where did the boat excursions in Mazzaro depart? I also returned recently, and we took the cable car twice to Mazzaro. We didn't see the boats though as we were interested in seeing the blue grotto.

We loved the driving in Sicily, it was definitely without rules. It was great!
AP6380 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 05:35 AM
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Maddy- I was there March 28th-April 7th, and we had a few sunny days and the rest were rainy & cloudy. We were told this weather was very unusual for the time of year. The weather was in the 50s to low 60s. I had really wished that I had brought more than one light sweater. We wore our spring jackets the entire time.
AP6380 is offline  
Apr 19th, 2003, 07:16 AM
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AP I remember from your report that you had a lot of rain for your visit. I've read articles that refer to the drought conditions that Sicily often experiences so I guess Sicilians appreciate the extra rain. As a visitor though it's so much nicer to have warm sunshine to enjoy - especially since a lot of the great sites in Sicily are outdoors.

Our first visit was in May and I remember the weather being warm except in Agrigento where it was much cooler than expected. I layered clothes and was still chilly. It seems there's a lot of variation around the averages in Sicily, especially in spring.
Maddy is offline  
May 8th, 2003, 04:47 AM
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The boats (little open-topped fishing boats) departed from the beach in front of the hotels and also by the Il Barcaiolo restaurant in the little cove. It was 20 EU a person - so 40 EU for our family of four. The blue grotto was really something and it was nice to poke around in a boat and look up at Taormina from the water.

Weather wise - it was generally about 65-75 during the day, and we had only one day with rain during the week. A few days we really need sun cover, sun screen, sunglasses, and hats.
seticrandall is offline  
May 8th, 2003, 04:25 PM
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It was great to read your trip write-up.
It brought back great memories of our Sicily trip in 98'
We also stayed at the Villa Athena, the Villa Belvedere and Il Limoneto
We especially enjoyed the Limoneto,
The abosolute best value I have ever found in Italy.
We enjoyed talking to the Alceste, the owner, over long dinners on the terrace.
We also took the boat trip around Otrygia with Alceste and Adelina's son
Frankie and his wife.
It doesn't sound like a thing has changed at the Limoneto..I hope.
As for driving in Sicily, one comment I will never forget came from Alceste at one of those long dinners. We were remarking on the traffic light that guarded the major intersection on the route from the Limoneto to Siracusa, whre several roads merged. We remarked to Alceste that many drivers either ignored the red light or continued through it for sometime when it changed from green.
His priceless comment, "What is red, it is just a color"
TCC is offline  
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