Sicily worth the trip?

Jul 25th, 2000, 06:28 PM
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Sicily worth the trip?

My husband & I have 13 days to spend in Italy. We've never been, and wondering that if we go in November, should we stay more south and enjoy Sicily, or head up northern Italy? How cold does it really get? Is Sicily easy to access? Are there ferry scams I should be aware? What's to see?
Too many questions... you'll be seeing me a lot on this message board....
Jul 25th, 2000, 07:49 PM
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Lynn - although I have not been to Italy during Nov, and it is a hard decision as to what to see and what to miss - I can highly recommend Sicily. I was travelling with friends a few years ago, and one was determined to get to Sicily to see the town his Granmother came from. We caught an overnight ferry from Naples to Palermo (had no problems w/ scams), picked up a rental car and drove to a town on the coast called Cefalu where we spent a couple of days. Gorgeous centuries old church, great scenery, fishing village feel - it was like being in a place where time stood still. From there we drove to a tiny town called Collesano (sp??) which was the birthplace of my friend's Grandmother. Although not a tourist attraction, the friendliness of everyone in the town was almost overwhelming. From there we drove on to Taormina to spend a couple of days(we dropped off the car here). Mt. Etna is in the distance on one side, gorgeous beach on the other side, ancient ampitheatre, windy streets up the side of a sm. mountain - loved it. We then caught a bus to the Catania airport and flew back to Florence. The sights, food, accommodations, and esp. the people are some of my best memories from my Italian experience. I have to say that I was not too impressed w/ what I saw of the bigger cities (Palermo & Catania), but didn't spend enough time in either place to have a well-founded opinion. A car is a necessity to see most of the Island - and once you have wheels, it is easy to get around. Sicily definitely got 2 thumbs up from the 4 of us.
Jul 26th, 2000, 06:42 AM
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I was in Sicily last November and the weather was mostly pleasant and sunny. It was cool in the mornings. The evening we arrived in Taormina it was raining and we were told it had been miserable all that day. We also had one mainly cloudy day in Palermo. I think November weather is hit or miss anywhere in Italy. I found Sorrento and Capri surprisingly cool in the evenings, but the days were very nice. The Tirrenia overnight ferry was fine, although we did have one wild ride because of a storm. There is definitely a lot to see in Sicily. Highlights on my trip were Taormina, the ruins at Selinunte, Villa Casale, and Palermo (smoggy, but many beautiful churches and friendly people).
Jul 26th, 2000, 07:56 AM
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Both Leslie and Dianne have given you good advice. The weather is indeed hit or miss in November and you could get some rain. As long as it's not pouring you will be able to enjoy all the sights Leslie has suggested and more. Sicily is a fascinating place with far better Greek ruins than Greece, beautiful mosaics from Roman times, Norman churches,great food, and friendly people. Our trip there was cut short by torrential rains (January), but we still were impressed and plan to return soon.

Jul 26th, 2000, 08:08 AM
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Don't know Nov temperature.The train from Turin (Torino) goes on the ferry, or fly.Syracuse is marvellous, liked Catania, Palermo is a bit rough, Taormina is gorgeous but expemsive - Naxos at the foot of the hill is much cheaper & less crowded (& has good beaches).
Jul 26th, 2000, 09:12 AM
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I was in Sicily in October last year and it was sunny and in the high 70s. We were in Siracuse, Taormina and Lipari and loved it so much we are returning this fall to visit Palermo, Selinunte, Cefalu and (again) Lipari. We use public transportation and while we can't see so much of the countryside, we get along just fine on the buses and trains. Taormina is very much a resort town and offers many day excursions to the main sights around Sicily.
Jul 26th, 2000, 09:59 AM
russ i
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Here is an excerpt from my Journal of my Sicily trip.

Overall, Palermo was not my favorite Italian city ever; however, it did contain three of the most amazing sites of our trip. The Palatine Chapel, built in 1132, combines Romanesque architecture with Byzantine-influenced mosaics and Moorish ceilings. It is simply stunning. In fact, Sicily was under the control of so many cultures in its history that it’s very interesting to see the conglomeration of influences that affect its architecture: Greek, Roman, Moorish, Byzantine, and Spanish, among others.

Amazing in a more macabre sense were the catacombs of the Convento dei Cappuccini. 8,000 skeletons line the walls, with parchment yellow skin stretched across their bones. All of them are still wearing clothes - top hat and tails, evening gowns, or religious vestments. Bizarre.

Five miles outside of town, in Monreale, was my favorite church on the island. (Note in the present – This remains one of my all time favorites). It contains the most extensive mosaics in the Christian world. Started in 1174, they illustrated episodes from the Old and New Testaments. The cloister next door contains an arcade supported by 216 twin columns, of which no two are alike.

After Monreale, we set out for Agrigento, stopping along the way to see the amazing Greek temples at Segesta and Selinunte. These were far better preserved than anything that we have seen in Greece, and better yet, surrounded by fields and countryside - no urban sprall to detract from the setting.

We spent the night in Agrigento, at a very uncharming Jolly Hotel, but after Palermo we really appreciated the quiet and modern rooms.

The highlight at Agrigento is the Valley of the Temples. This complex of several temples, set on a slight ridge in the valley below town, gives the best example of the ancient cities, cemetaries and places of worship from the Greek Empire.

I have to say that I was really surprised that Sicily and southern Italy had a huge number of Greek colonies. It is absolutely dumbfounding to see these incredible engineering feats which were accomplished over 2500 years ago.

Moving on to the center of the island, we continued to the ruins of the Villa Casale, built by a Roman emperor in the 3rd century. The floors are decorated by over 4,200 square yards of mosaics, depicting hunting scenes, Roman myths, even women gymnasts wearing “bikinis”.

We spent the last two nights in Taormina. This was Nirvana. (Sorry, I don’t know where the ancient Greeks or Romans thought you go when you die. There’s a lot of eastern influence in Sicily, so Nirvana it is.) Taormina is a seaside resort perched on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean. The weather was warm, the views were excellent and the days lazy. From the ancient Greek amphitheater in town you can see the snow covered peak of Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in recent history.

Anyway, you wouldn’t know it, judging from the amount of space that I’ve given it, but Taormina was our favorite town on the island. There are not as many “sites” as in the other places, but that wasn’t the point. The point was the sea, the sun, the mountains, the food, and the narrow winding streets of a small town. It was the perfect way to end the trip.
Jul 26th, 2000, 01:03 PM
richard j vicek
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Good afternoon, Lynn
Have to agree with all, SICILIA. but
one excellant and most interesting point
if the Sicilian Cruisine, a wonderful
blend of arabic, roman and greek. Fish
is extremely good here..Capers, raisins,
olives and herbs are used to make some
wonderful dishes. Pasta con le Sarde,
Pasta alla Norma, Coponata, and
Sarde a beccafico are some very good
dishes. Also Sicilian confectionery
pastries are exceptional.
Richard of La Grange Park, Il...
Jul 26th, 2000, 01:59 PM
Theresa Maggio
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Yes, Sicily is worth it. I never heard of a ferry scam. I travel alone and never had a problem. Check out Mary Talor Simeti's book, "On Persephone's Island." Check out my book: "Mattanza, Love and Death in the Sea of Sicily." (Perseus, May 2000), about the small island of Favignana off the Trapani coast. For pictures, please see my website: There are links to Sicily there too.
Sep 20th, 2000, 04:47 PM
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I found Taormina to be one of the most profoundly beautiful places I've been to. A must see.
Jun 6th, 2002, 02:57 PM
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Jun 7th, 2002, 01:50 AM
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I tried to send you a folder of my notes on Sicily but my e-mail was returned. If you e-mail me I will insert the folder in the reply.
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