Sicily Trip Report

Old Sep 12th, 2004, 01:41 PM
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NHC
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Sicily Trip Report

This is a fairly long trip report, so beware!

My husband and I went to Sicily for one week at the beginning of September. We visited Palermo, Piazza Armerina, Agrigento, Monreale, Siracusa, Noto, and Taormina.

PALERMO
We started out in Palermo. We arrived at the airport around noon and took the blue Prestia airport bus into the city of Palermo. It costs 5 euro, and leaves every half hour from the airport. One of the stops was only a few blocks from our hotel, right near the impressive Teatro Politeama Garibaldi, on Via Emerico Amari. On the way we stopped to buy tickets for an excursion the next day to Piazza Armerina and Agrigento, at the Compagnia Siciliana Turismo, which is also on Via Emerico Amari. We bought the tickets and continued on to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Joli (not to be confused with the Hotel Jolly, which is not too far away), which is on Via Michele Amari right across from the Piazza Florio. The entrance hall of the hotel is really cool with paintings on the ceiling as well as the wall. Our room was on the second floor, looking onto the piazza. The room was nice, with A/C. The only downside was that the bathroom was small (which was common in our hotel rooms in Sicily). It seems that every hotel bathroom in Palermo has bidets, even though most don't have the room for it. The bidet in our room at Hotel Joli was right in front of the toilet. The toilet was right next to the shower wall, so you had to practically climb over the bidet to get to it. That was pretty uncomfortable. The only other disappointment was that the hotel advertises ADSL in the rooms, but really it's just a standard phone that you can plug into your computer if you have dial-up service in Italy, which we did not. Anyway, breakfasts were good. Various types of breads, cereal, juice, and coffee. The room also had a mini bar with pretty good prices. The staff at the hotel was helpful, directing us to the proper buses and so on. We paid 98 euro per night.

After checking into the hotel we headed to the Cappella Palatina, which is a small chapel that belonged to a member of the Norman aristocracy, and is full of beautiful mosaics. On the walk over we were impressed with how much beautiful architecture, as well as lovely monuments and statues, there are in Palermo. I had just pictured it as a crowded city before, and we were only staying there to see a few of the nearby sights before moving elsewhere. It is definitely a city with a ton of traffic and many dirty areas (lots of overflowing trash on corners, and things like that), but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of beauty present there. I think it shouldn't be missed on a trip to Sicily.

PIAZZA ARMERINA
The next morning, bright and early at 7:30 we waited at a nearby hotel for the bus pickup for our tour of Piazza Armerina and Agrigento. Even though the company's website is in English (and Italian) and when we bought the tickets we dealt with the people in English, it turned out that everyone on the tour was a Spanish-speaker, and the tour was basically in Spanish! Luckily, my husband is a native Spanish-speaker, and my Spanish was good enough to be able to understand almost everything during the tour. The guide spoke some English, but after he was having to say every sentence in both Spanish and English, we told him that just Spanish was fine. But if anyone is planning on booking an excursion through this company, they should check first on the language the tour will be in. The tour was 46 euro (not including entrance fees to the sights). We also prepaid for a lunch that was around 11 euro (not including drinks), but it turned out it would have been better to just eat at the self-service cafeteria where we were.

We went to the Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Armerina, a grand home from the 4th century BC that was preserved by a landslide, and discovered in the 1950s. It was quite impressive, with mosaic floors (including the famous mosaic of women in "bikinis&quot and preserved areas that were thermal baths and bathrooms. The floors were a bit dusty, which dulled the colors of the mosaics, but it was still a great sight to see. It was really good to have a guide, as there were only a few explanatory signs throughout the villa. We were there a couple of hours.

AGRIGENTO
After that we were taken to Agrigento and the Valley of Temples, the sight of ancient Greek ruins consisting of several Doric temples from the 5th century BC. The temples were great to see, a couple are in quite good shape. It was really an impressive sight to look down the hill and see so many ancient temples with the sea behind them on the horizon. We started at the top and walked down. Again, a guide was really good, as there were maybe two written explanatory signs, and they were in Italian. This sight also took around a couple of hours.

All in all, I was glad we did a tour of these areas. The transportation was taken care of, and a guide was included. All we had to do was follow along. We were returned to our hotel at around 7 that evening. It was a full day's excursion, during which we got to see two important sights.

MONREALE
The next day we took the local bus (#389 from Piazza Independenza) to Monreale to see the Norman duomo there. The bus drops you off right in front of the duomo (and is the same pick-up location to return to Palermo). Again, the main attraction of the cathedral is gorgeous mosaics. It is a fairly large church with mosaics that detail stories from the Bible, including the Genesis, Noah's Ark, and episodes from the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. Entrance to the church is free, but we paid to go to the tower (1.50 euro) and to the cloisters (4.50 euro). The tower had nice views, although getting all the way to the top involved going through some pretty narrow spaces. The cloisters are beautiful. There are over 200 columns, each with a differently designed apse, and some with mosaic tiles designed on the column. They are in a garden complete with a pretty fountain. The whole visit took probably an hour to an hour and a half (my husband also paid to go into the treasury of the church and see the collection in there, around 1.50 euro). It's pretty dark inside for picture-taking, though. You can pay 1 euro to have some areas illuminated, but the pictures will still be fairly dark.

Afterwards, we took a couple of buses back to our hotel and then took a cab to the "bus station," which is basically a street, Via Paolo Balsamo, where all the buses come right next to the train station. We were charged 15 euro for the approx. 5-minute ride, including luggage, and we think we were ripped off, but we didn't have the language skills to deal with it, so we paid. i noticed after we had only gone a block and a half that the meter already said over 5 euro, but I didn't see what it was when we got into the cab. We took the Interbus company (www.interbus.it lists the itineraries in Italian, but not the prices) bus to Siracusa from there, which was approx. 13 euro each. It was a 2 hour 15 minute ride, with a stop at a rest stop in the middle (the buses don't have bathrooms).

SIRACUSA
After we arrived we were lost for about an hour trying to find our hotel on Ortigia, the island that is the old town of Siracusa. The map that we had in the Rough Guide wasn't that great, and we learned later when we got a map from the tourist office that theirs isn't much better. The signage in Siracusa isn't that great either, so it would be helpful to have directions first. We stayed at the Hotel Gutkowski. We arrived to find out that I'd screwed up the reservations and that our reservation didn't start until the next day. It was already nearly 7pm. They were very nice at the hotel. They didn't have any more double rooms, but put us up in a single room in the attic. It was kind of a weird room. Since it was in the "attic" and the roof was slanted you had to crouch down in some areas, but they made it pretty nice, and it was a fair size. The bathroom was also this big area with a sloping roof, but the shower didn't have a shower curtain (and was just a shower, not a tub) so after our showers the floor was absolutely soaked. We had to lay down all of the towels to prevent the water from entering into the main room. There was just one little porthole window in the room, but when you stuck your head out there was a beautiful view of the water, which is across the street from the hotel. When I booked the hotel, I had requested an ocean view room. They said they'd try, but could not guarantee it. The next morning when we brought our bags down at 11am I expected that they'd keep our bags for the day and check us into our new room later, but they put us into our room right away. However, they apparently have a new "wing" which is a few doors down from the main hotel, and that's where we were placed. It looked as though they were still doing some work in part of the downstairs, although nothing was done while we were there. Our room was in the front, but unfortunately there was a wall directly across the street from it, next to the water, so that was our view. If we went up to our window and looked to the right we could see the water. I think our room had the most direct ocean "view" on our floor of that building (the 2nd floor, or 1st floor in European terms). Rooms on higher floors may have been able to see over the wall to the water. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't have a real ocean view room, but who knows what room we would have gotten had I not screwed up the reservation. There were several others in this building as well. The room had a double bed, two metallic wardrobes, and a nice-sized bathroom (finally, one that wasn't cramped!), and A/C. To me it was not as nice as being in the main building, since one had to go a few doors down to go to breakfast in the morning, and return their key whenever they went out, and there is only a front desk in the main building, but I really liked the hotel. It has kind of a seaside décor of blues and whites - simple but attractive design. Breakfasts were good. Our first morning there was breakfast on their roof terrace, which has a wonderful view of the water. The other days we ate in the regular room. There was usually fruit and/or fruit salad, toast, cereal, hard-boiled eggs, sweet cookie-like breads, several types of juices (one was a light green and really good, although we never figured out what it was), and on Sunday there was coffee cake. The maids start cleaning in the morning before 9, so one probably shouldn't expect to sleep late since there will be sounds of vacuums and so on, but I've found that to be common in Europe. It also means that the rooms are made up early in the day, which is nice (no waiting around in the afternoon for a clean room). The staff was really nice and helpful, loaning us their books on the area, making restaurant recommendations, and even calling for us to find out when the bus went to the archeological sight on Sundays when there are fewer buses. Much of the staff spoke excellent English, and all of the staff spoke at least some. There was internet access as well, which was about 1.50 euro for 15 min, about 2.40 for a half hour, and about 4.20 for an hour. However, they didn't always charge you for it, we were only charged for the first time we used it. The weird attic room was 55 euro for the night, the regular double room was 90 per night.

We hung out in Siracusa for the first couple of days, taking in the views of the water, eating great food, and walking around. They have a cool ancient temple of Apollo near the center of Ortigia, as well as a beautiful fountain centered around the Greek goddess Diana. There are many teeny-tiny narrow streets. The Fonte (fountain) Aretusa near the sea's edge and the duomo in Ortigia are must-sees. There's a main street with several clothes shops. We also saw around four just-married couples getting their pictures taken. We saw a lot of that while we were in Sicily, lots of people getting married on every day of the week.

Saturday night we went to see an authentic Sicilian puppet show, the second act of "Le Nozze di Orlando" ("The Wedding of Orlando," a popular character in these puppet shows telling part of a French-Norman epic story). These shows are quite a part of their history there, you see the wooden puppets sold all around Sicily. The show was nice, not quite as impressive as we thought it would be, but good. It was all in Italian, of course, but it was just cool to watch. It was in a really small puppet theater there, and cost 5 euro and was around an hour.

On that Sunday we went to Neapolis, the archeological park, and saw the ancient theater, as well as the cave called the "ear of Dionysius." This really is another must-see, which also has beautiful views to the water on the horizon.

NOTO
On Monday we went to the baroque town of Noto, which is just beautiful. The architecture was done after a devastating earthquake in the late 1600s, and it is just one beautiful building after another, with some pretty churches as well. That day heavy clouds began to loom, and we got on the bus back to Siracusa just before the heavy rain broke out (although the weather in general in Sicily was hot, probably at least 85 F most days). We were there around 3 1/2 hours including lunch, which seemed to be adequate. We visited the old palace of one of the princes from the 1800s, the Palazzo Villadorata. Outside there are several balconies supported by really cool designs. We paid around 1.50 euro to go inside, but it really had not been kept up, it was falling apart. There are several rooms to see, which are moderately interesting, and maybe would be more so if they had been kept up or restored. But there were great views from the balconies. One suggestion in terms of going to Noto is that the AST bus has several buses a day, although they seem to have no website. We had planned to take the Interbus, as I had seen buses to Noto from Siracusa on their website, but the hotel staff told us that AST is the bus to take. AST is the local bus system there and have more buses to Noto and other fairly local areas. The trip was 2.20 euro each way, and took about 50 minutes (although the return trip was less than a half hour - fewer local stops I guess because there were only a few of us on the bus). We always bought our buses tickets at the bus company offices, although apparently they can be bought on-board. For regular town buses through Sicily, tickets usually are usually purchased at tabacci shops. Don't expect English to be spoken at the bus companies.

(SIRACUSA'S POST OFFICE)
When we returned from Noto we went to the post office to mail a few postcards. Crazy! They have a system where you have to take a number depending on what type of service you want, which separates you into different lines. But the number-display machines weren't working properly, they just kept moving to the next number after a couple of minutes, no matter when the person finished their transaction, so every time someone new came up they thought it was their turn (despite the long line) and had to be told that the machine wasn't working. It took each person a long time to do each transaction. I'm not sure what they were doing, but people kept asking for some type of form to fill out. It didn't seem like it had to do with mailing letters. After a half hour it was finally our turn and each card was 65 cents, normal mail. It turned out that expedited would only have been 15 more cents each. The rate listing said it would take two weeks for normal mail to the States (3-4 days for expedited), but a card I sent to New York arrived after only 4 or 5 days, so that was good!

RESTAURANTS ON ORTIGIA
In terms of food, we found it to be really good there, and not as expensive as we thought. The restaurant Quelli Della Trattoria on Via Cavour 28 was outstanding. I had scampi ravioli and my husband had some type of roasted fish, and we both had salad, mineral water. It came to 28 euro. Another good one was up Lungomare Vittorini a few blocks above Hotel Gutkowski, also across from the water, called Ristorante Lungomare. It looked like it was all locals eating there. We ate lunch at a restaurant on the marina whose name I can't remember, but it was down from the post office right next to the bridge. It was quite good. One should note that many restaurants are closed there on Monday. We ate at a placed called the Archimede the Monday that we were there, which also had really good food. One kind of strange thing is that all of the restaurants, no matter how fancy, seemed to have TVs on. I guess it's a Sicilian thing.

TAORMINA
That Tuesday we headed for Taormina on the train (with the bus we would have had to change buses in Catania and it would have taken 3 hours) for 9.90 euro each, and a 2 hour ride. We had read about trains always being late (like an hour) and so on in Sicily, but the train left on time (for some reason it arrived 5 minutes late, but that's all). Upon arrival we had to take a bus up to town, since the train leaves you at the bottom of the hill. Tickets are sold at the little shop in the train station for approx 1.20 euro, although it seemed like they could also be bought on-board. It was a 10 or 15 minute ride up a road full of hairpin turns. After we arrived we walked to our hotel on the narrow streets which often didn't have a specified space for pedestrians. We just had one night in Taormina, because I was concerned about it being more expensive, and touristy. However, our hotel there was actually cheaper than the others, but it had fewer stars. Our other hotels had 3 stars, the Hotel Condor in Taormina had 2. But it did have an ocean view off of a tiny balcony, which made me choose it. The view was nice, but in retrospect one is hardly ever in their room except at night, when the view can't really be seen. The hotel had a nice terrace overlooking the sea where breakfast was served, which consisted of bread, juice, and a hot drink. The room was fine - 2 star quality. Double bed, A/C. Again, a small bathroom (with the tiniest shower ever, but at least it had a shower curtain and a removable shower faucet). We didn't use it, but there's internet access that apparently you have to buy a card for that costs 6 euro. I don't know how much time that gives you. The people at the front desk were nice, providing us with a map and a really good restaurant recommendation (unfortunately I can't remember the name! It's something like Saro, on Via Timeo I think, diagonally across from the stone arch where Via Cappuccini starts. A great family-run restaurant. We had the set-price lunch, which was 13 euro for a pasta and second course). Food was more expensive in Taormina, but this was a pretty good deal. The hotel is also a little bit of a walk up a hill away from the main part of town. It was 84 euro per night. We passed the other hotel I had checked into when we were walking around. It is on the main stretch on Corso Umberto, called Hotel Victoria. They had quoted me 90 euro per night, I think. It looked really nice from the outside. When I saw it I wished that we had stayed there, because it would have been much more convenient, although I'm not sure what the noise level would be since it's right on the main stretch with all of the shops and restaurants. If anyone stays at Hotel Condor, we had a problem finding it at first, because it's on Via Dietro Cappuccini, which is right off of Via Cappuccini. When the number didn't correspond on Via Cappuccini, we asked a police officer. He actually spoke English, and pointed us up the road, where Via Cappuccini turns into Via Dietro Cappuccini.

Taormina was absolutely lovely, and also chock full of tourists during the end of the first week of September. I had read that it can be shoulder-to-shoulder tourists there at times. I could definitely see that. It wasn't that bad, but quite full. Still the views from its hilltop location are stunning, and there's a pretty sight to see every few minutes. Our first stop was the Greek theater (4.50 euro admission unless you're an EU citizen, over 65 or under 18, in which case entrance is free). A nice ancient ruin to see, with spectacular views down to the ocean. Usually one can see Mt. Etna from there, but it was too cloudy (there were rain clouds on the horizon). That was a bit of a bummer, but it was still beautiful. After that we walked around. Plenty of high class shops. There's a really nice piazza almost at the end of the stretch on Corso Umberto with, of course, stunning sea views, as well as musicians playing and just a nice ambiance.

We had dinner at a restaurant that I unfortunately cannot remember the name of. It was on Corso Umberto, and has a colorful sign outside saying something like "it's always a good time for pizza." I had a minestrone soup (very homemade) and my husband had shrimp cocktail, we both had pizza. The pizza was really good. But, I think since our lunch had been pretty substantial, we could not nearly finish them (although we saw another guy who couldn't as well). I had a pizza with "bacon" and tomatoes, and my husband had one with smoked salmon and other seafood, as well as half a carafe of red wine, a soda and mineral water. Quite good. I think the bill came out to around 40 euro. We walked back to our hotel and collapsed from over-feeding!

The next morning we got up and went to the public gardens called "Villa Comunale," which is beautiful. They have pretty little brick structures around, in addition to the plants. There's also a military memorial and a few models of war planes and things like that, which I thought to be a bit misplaced in a garden, but anyway it was lovely, and of course had great views. There were also several cute cats around. It began to rain while we were there. We headed back to the hotel. Our bus to Catania airport left at 2, so we took a cab to a restaurant near the bus departure area. We had planned to walk, but there was too much rain. The bus ride from our hotel on Via Dietro Cappuccini to the restaurant Bella Blu near the bus area was 8 euro. The Bella Blu restaurant has great views of the water, and is right next to the cable car down to the beach, so you can watch people going up and down while you eat. Really good food as well. They had a lunch special of pasta and a second course for 13.40 euro. Nice staff, who seemed to speak English (we didn't try to speak English with them, but there were other diners there who they spoke English with). After lunch the rain had stopped. We waited for our bus to Catania airport. It cost 5 euro each, and is a 1 hr 25 minute ride, although we arrived a bit early. The airpoirt at Catania is pretty basic, although they are apparently updating it. Once you go past security there is just a shop or two, and vending machines.

Well, that was our trip to Sicily. It was very nice and full of things to see (we took over 250 pictures!). I really recommend it. I hope this trip report (my first) wasn't too long, and that some of the information I've given will be helpful to some.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 01:51 PM
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NHC, I enjoyed your trip report very much - it's given me some great ideas for our own visit to southern Italy and Sicily next spring.

Cheers,
Linda
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:18 PM
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I am planning an elderhostel cruise in a sailboat to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands next May. I found your trip report very informative. We will be going to some of the same places, but obviously not all because we will be spending time in the Aeolian Islands.

Thanks for posting!
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:28 PM
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Hi NHC,
Thanks for a good report. I have been thinking of going to Sicily. Your trip sounds like a very good itenerary. I know very little about Sicily at this point. I would like to ask you if we would be able to do a trip similar to yours without knowing Italian (or Spanish) We have been to Italy a few times and have had no problem with language with knowing only a few words. Also, is September the best time to go or is there another time that is better (i.e. May, June)? Thanks for you input.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 05:49 PM
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NHC - Thank you so much. That was a very good report. I'm also considering Sicily in the near future and it was very helpful. I've copied it for future use.
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Old Sep 12th, 2004, 06:53 PM
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I stayed at the Hotel Victoria last year with my parents. Our room was facing the Corso Umberto and was surprised that the noise level was not bad at all. The Hotel is quite charming and rooms were fine. They served a very satisfying breakfast in the morning as well. The price is unbelievable for the location. We had a car ( very difficult to do) but nontheless, they even provided parking one street above the Hotel. I would not reccommend bringing your car there as this really tested our patience level with each other that day!!I would definatly reccommend this Hotel anytime.
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 12:39 AM
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Hi,
I'm glad some people found this report useful!
Mimipam, I've read that May, June and October are better times to travel to Sicily because it's cooler, and because there's less tourist activity in the heavily visited areas. As for the language issues, I was surprised at how much English was spoken, sometimes it seemed like even more than mainland Italy. That being said, some things like the numbers, the word for "ticket," etc are really helpful when you're traveling around. But all in all there wasn't much of a problem not speaking Italian.
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Old Sep 13th, 2004, 01:57 AM
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NHC: Thank you so much for this exceellent report, which really gives helpful information, in fact exactly the kind of information needed to convince me to go there this year!
I love when someone rises above all of the banter to actually give straightforward, useful information on these boards! This is one for my files..
Grazie tante!
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Old Feb 11th, 2005, 07:55 PM
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NHC-thanks for such a great report particularly on Siracusa and Ortigia. (My daughter is seriously considering studying a semester abroad on Ortigia studying Marine Geology and Volcanology) and our family is planning on going over to see Sicily and the east side over her spring break. My question to you is: if we fly in and out of Catania from Rome-is it possible to do without a car and use Siracusa as our home base with public transportation? Also, were you glad that you stayed on Ortigia rather than in Siracusa? We only have a week and there is a slight chance that my hubs may not go so I am concerned about the price of renting a car and all of the hassles in driving over there. Any imput? Thanks!
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 03:44 AM
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If you only have a week, I would consider spending the whole time in Sicily. How are you getting from Sicily to Rome? I hope flying, because with that short of an amount of time you don't want to spend a lot of time on trains. I only spent one night in Ortygia, it looked much more charming than Siracusa itself.

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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 08:56 PM
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Sorry NHC for tagging onto your report! I am planning on flying into Rome and then taking Alitalia into Catania. We are planning on arriving a day before Palm Sunday which I think could be difficult-anyone done that before in Sicily(when do things start shutting down for Easter?).I would like to go without a car(?) as I am afraid about the parking problems and cost. My plan is to go down to Siracusa and stay on Ortigia(where the school is that my daughter wants to look at) and use that as a base. We would spend several days there seeing the surrounding area (Nota?) and then possibly training up to Taormina for a day and then back down to Catania. Does anyone have a hotel near the airport that they would recommend in Catania for an early morning departure to Rome? NHC's report has been most helpful and if anyone has the email/faxes of any hotels in the eastern coast of Sicily that they would recommend(no matter what town) I would be most grateful if you would post them. Thanks!
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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NHC,--Did not see this when you originally posted but if you are still reading these posts, i thought i would comment on one aspect of your trip report for a future trip or for anyone else wondering about Hotel Victoria in Taormina.
I stayed there in 20003 with my parents.For the money, it cannot be beat.We really felt we scored on this one. The rooms were a little tight for three (but we survived), for two it's perfect. Our room was facing the Corso and with some earplugs(light sleepers) we were not bothered by the noise outside when it came to sleeping, and it was not bad anyways. One must never travel without out earplugs, IMO!!
The hotel is charming inside with a lot of antiques. They served a wonderful breakfast with fresh rolls, juices, coldcuts, cereal, Sicilian style pastries and coffee any wich way you wanted it. Staff was friendly and helpful.For $99 euro's and to be right on the Corso it is without a doubt a little jem.
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Old Feb 20th, 2005, 08:13 PM
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Dutyfree,
Sorry to respond so late, I haven't been checking Fodor's very regularly lately, and I am actually (surprise) traveling right now. I'm not sure if you've already received adequate information re: your questions, but here are my answers:
In terms of driving on Ortigia, I think it would be better to be without a car. Many of the roads are VERY narrow, and parking seemed to be somewhat of a pain as well. There are many buses that leave from the bus station, which is not far from almost anywhere on Ortigia, I think. As I mentioned, we went to Noto from there. They also have buses to Ragusa, etc. There are many local buses, I think it should be ok to do it that way. There's also the train station on Siracusa proper.
In terms of staying on Ortigia vs. Siracusa proper, Ortigia is definitely more charming and scenic. We hardly spent any time in Siracusa itself, but if I wanted scenery and charm, I'd stay on Ortigia, although it probably would be easier to drive and park in Siracusa from what I saw, if you decide that you need a car.
Sorry, I don't know a hotel near the Catania airport, however, the bus ride from Taormina is not long at all, it's supposed to be 1 hr 25 min, but it took less time than that for our bus to get there (and you could stay at Hotel Victoria, as lvitaly gave it such a nice recommendation). Just a thought, although I'm sure some people on here can give good Catania hotel recs, although maybe posting a separate thread would get more responses on that issue. Hope I've answered your questions at least somewhat. Feel free to ask more if you like, and I'll try to answer.
-NHC
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 07:57 AM
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Thanks for all the great replies-I have been trying to get this to go through for the past couple days so am hoping that it does today? I am hoping that this trip will be doable without renting a car. My plans are to use Ortigia as our base for several days (how many would you recommend if you want to see Noto,Siracusa,etc.) and then possibly go up to Mt. Etna or Taormina for a day or so before leaving out of Catania for Rome.I have secured reservations on Ortigia for the Gutkowski and thought that we would use the train or bus from Catania's airport to Siracusa.Did you bus or train up to Taormina? Any other daytrips out of Siracusa that you would like to recommend? I really appreciate everyone's help.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 09:33 AM
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Also-does anyone have an email or phone for the Hotel Victoria in Taormina? Thanks!
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Old Feb 22nd, 2005, 03:40 PM
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Here's their website:
http://www.albergovictoria.it/index1024x768.htm
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 07:32 PM
  #17  
NHC
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Hi Dutyfree,
We took the train to Taormina from Siracusa (check my original posting, it explains why we took the train rather than bus).
The number of days to stay in Siracusa for day trips depends on how many places you want to see. As I said before, Noto is lovely. Ragusa, although we didn't make it there, is supposed to be beautiful as well. Aside from the day trips, I'd leave at least a couple of days to see Siracusa itself.
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