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Southern Italy Trip: Naples, Tropea, the Aeolians, Taormina and Palermo

Southern Italy Trip: Naples, Tropea, the Aeolians, Taormina and Palermo

May 2nd, 2007, 07:50 PM
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Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 13
Southern Italy Trip: Naples, Tropea, the Aeolians, Taormina and Palermo


I'm new to this website and I was wondering if anybody could help me with a few questions I have regarding my itinerary in southern Italy.

I'd like to spend 4 nights in Naples from where I expect to visit Pompeii.

Then, 2 nights in Tropea. I'm not sure yet about whether to visit Tropea or Maratea. What would be your choice? Are 2 nights enough? Tropea is supposed to be tiny, so I thought I'd stroll around the town on my arrival day and then hit the beach the following day. However, Maratea doesn't seem to have a beach, but, mainly, a port. I want a day on the beach, so I guess I have the answer to my question.

Afterwards, 3 nights on one of the Aeolian Islands. Again, I'm not sure about which island to base on. Stromboli seems lovely, but I'm open to suggestions in that sense. By the way, are the ferry services between Tropea and the Aeolian Islands? All I've found are excursions, but not actual ferry services.

Then, 3 nights in Taormina. If there aren't any ferry services between Tropea and the Aeolian Islands, I guess I'll take a train from Tropea to Taormina, and, then, I'll travel from Taormina to the Aeolians.

Finally, 4 nights in Palermo from where I expect to visit the Convento dei Cappuccini and the Duomo di Monreale.

What do you think about this itinerary?

Donaill is offline  
May 2nd, 2007, 10:36 PM
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I loved the Aeolian islands. From Catania, I used the bus to Taormina and then (bus again) on to Lipari via hydrofoil. This was in the summer. I liked Lipari as a base. The town was both lively and lovely and the beaches beautiful. Vulcano was an amazing experience and very close. I used a tour to do the "Stromboli by night" and only had a little while on the beach near the little port. Big dark gray pumice chunks and stark whitewashed homes made a stunning contrast. Unless you intend to climb the volcano, I'm not sure how much else there is to do there. One day and one night there might be enough, and then another island for the next two days. Some of the other smaller islands felt like Greece and were also beautiful. Stromboli was quite aways away from Lipari, but I believe you can take a ferry from Naples to Stromboli (then on to Lipari)so perhaps that might be something to investigate when typing in connections. You might even be able to do a Naples-Catania or Palermo flight...
sglass is offline  
May 3rd, 2007, 12:58 AM
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The main service to the Eolian islands is from Milazzo (www.siremar.it and www.usticalines.it). Siremar's overnight ship from Napoli is also a very convenient way of getting there.
The excursion boats from Tropea (www.tropeamar.it and www.comerci.it) should allow you to make a one-way journey. If you buy a round-trip ticket, they can't force you to go back on the boat. However, they are fairly small vessels so the trips could be cancelled if the weather is not right.
GeoffHamer is offline  
May 3rd, 2007, 02:43 AM
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I haven't been to Maratea but I can assure you that the beaches in and around Tropea are by far the most beautiful beaches in Italy.
MyriamC is online now  
May 3rd, 2007, 05:50 PM
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Anybody else?
Donaill is offline  
May 3rd, 2007, 06:33 PM
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All the Aeolians are beautiful and all are very different. Lipari is the main island and best for a base. It has the most hydrofoils for island hopping.
TravMimi is offline  
May 3rd, 2007, 06:41 PM
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I too was sooooo glad we chose Lipari as our base for 5 days in the Aeolian islands. Stromboli was interesting to see, but would have left me bored silly after the first half day. I don't think I could take the constant smell of Vulcano. Panarea was lovely, but there is so much more to do in Lipari, and so many options for transporatation to see the other islands.
NeoPatrick is offline  
May 4th, 2007, 09:47 AM
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Thanks, I'll stay on Lipari and 2, instead of 3, nights in Taormina.

Thanks for the link, I checked the Tropeamar website and you can buy a one way ticket to Lipari.
Donaill is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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Hi everybody,

Well, this seems to be my final itinerary:

4 nights in Naples
day1: Arrival
day2: via Toledo and historic center (Duomo and San Severo chapel)
day3: morning off and Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
day4: Pompeii.

3 nights in Tropea
day1: Arrival (via train)
day2: stroll around the town and visit Santa Maria dell'Isola.
day3: on the beach.

3 nights on Lipari
day1: Arrival (via aliscafo)
day2: enjoy the island
day3: daytrip to Vulcano

3 nights in Taormina
day1: arrival (via aliscafo and train)
day2: stroll around the town and visit the greek ruins.
day3: on the beach (mazzar&ograve

4 nights in Palermo
day1: arrival (via train)
day2: stroll around Quattro Canti and Vucciria.
day3: visit Palazzo dei Normanni, the Duomo and the Convento dei Cappuccini (outskirts of Palermo).
day4: daytrip to Cefalù.

I'm still stressed about whether 3 nights on each Taormina and Tropea would be a waste of time or 2 nights on each would not be enough (at least for what I'd like to do in those two places).

Besides, I still haven't found where to stay in Tropea.
Donaill is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 05:16 PM
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Tropea is gorgeous! Most hotels in the historic center are B&Bs. The main city is high on a cliff above the beach. The beach resorts are to either side of the actual city. There isn't much to do there besides the beach. There are many condos there where people from Milan spend August.
This is a nice hotel, not budget but a great place to stay for peace and quiet and relaxation.
TravMimi is offline  
May 5th, 2007, 08:55 PM
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Re Naples, if you are going to do one Museum in Naples, it should be Capodimonte. Just a magnificent museum, one of the great painting collections in the world, with some amazing palace rooms to see, too.

The Archeological Museum has a few major items (the Farnese sculpture collection, the mosaic from the house of the faun) and not a lot of other must sees. I think you could fit it into your day visiting the Naples historic center. I didint find Via Toledo all that amazing in itself - its basically a shopping street, though the streets going off from it have some great sights - Do see Santa Chiara and the Gesu Nuovo, have a pastry at Scaturchio, check out Spaccanapoli, Via Tribunali and some of the churches in that area (San Lorenzo with its excavations underneath, Monte Pio della Misericordia with its Caravaggio, etc.) Have some pizza - Via Tribunali has some wonderful places for Pizza including di Matteo at 94 get some fritti - fried snacks too - and you will be walking on the old Greek street grid.
jjkbrook is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 04:24 AM
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Is this a good time to reveal one of our traveling "stupid" moments? I must confess that our trip to Naples was a bit unprepared compared to most. I saw there was a "don't miss" Capidomonte museum there. My sister collected that ghastly Capidomonte porcelain. I decided the LAST thing I wanted to see in Naples was an entire museum of the stuff. So we avoided the museum.
NeoPatrick is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 04:56 AM
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You have a very nice trip planned : I've spent time in all of these places except Tropea/Maratea and highly recommend all of them.

If you want to do lots of stuff I'd agree Lipari is the best place to stay in the Aeolian islands; although we were happy to spend 8 days on Panarea doing very little ! For one day trip I think Stromboli, plus Panarea if there's time, would be nicer than Vulcano.

But then we probably take things at a more leisurely pace - after 5 trips so far to Campania, including a week in Naples last year, we still haven't made it to Pompeii; and during a week in Palermo we didn't make it to Monreale. But that was partly because there was so much to see and do in Naples and Palermo respectively.

In Naples, I wouldn't include the archaeological and Capodimonte museums as the most interesting places we visited. Here's a link to my trip report, in case it's helpful - http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34830452. To me the most interesting places were 1) the Catacombe di San Gennaro, 2) the Duomo especially the baptistry & excavations, 3) the church of San Lorenzo Maggiore including the excavations, and 4) the church & gallery of Pio Monte della Misercordia.

From Palermo, with only 3-4 days I wouldn't bother visiting Cefalu - there is so much to see and enjoy in Palermo itself, and I personally found Cefalu a bit depressing and left early (had booked to stay 4 nights).
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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My husband and I were in Taorimina ,Tropea and Maratea. I definitely would shorten stay in Taorimina and add both Tropea and Maratea. We were driving the coast from Naples to Calabria and came across both Maratea and Tropea by accident. We loved both so much we stayed 3 days in each and shortened stays in other cities. I can recommend Le Roccette Mare in Tropea . Inexpensive and lovely. the fax # was 096361450 . In Maratea we stayed at the very expensive but fabulous Hotel Santa Venere. I do not have #'s but it was fabulous. Hope this helps
tdk320n is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 09:27 AM
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Thanks everybody for your replies.

To be honest, I don't really have a plan for that second day in Naples. I thought of adding an extra day in Naples because I didn't want to feel like "I only have one full day". I don't know how big the historic center is, so I don't know whether or not a day will suffice for what I want to do. I just want to experience Naples, specially its food, not its fancy restaurant food but its real food, which I guess I'll sample it by wandering around the historic center. The Catacombe di San Gennaro seem quite interesting. San Lorenzo Maggiore, Monte Pio, Gesù Nuovo and Santa Chiara are on my list of places to visit.

I've read about Capodimonte Museum, but, at least for me, museums are not what visiting a city means for the life of a city isn't there (that's my humble, maybe ignorant, opinion, but that's the way I see it). I wanted to visit the Museo Archeologico because I want to go Pompeii, and because I've read it complements the visit to Pompeii.

I was going to take a 7am aliscafo from Tropea to Lipari and then do Taormina, but, since I don't like waking up early when I'm on vacation, I've decided to take the train from Tropea to Taormina and, finally, go to Lipari. Tropea does seem small, so I think I'd better stay there for only 2 nights and add it somewhere else (maybe Palermo?). I'll arrive at Tropea around noon anyway and, probably, leave at noon, too, so I'll have time for the beach and strolling.

I'm still wondering whether 3 nights in Taormina are too many. My bookguide doesn't talk much about it because it says there's not much to do there, although it does say it's beautiful. Any commnets on Taormina? There are a thousand posts about it on this forum, but none of them says how long it's recommendable to stay or why it is a must.

Although I'm really interested in experiencing Naples and Palermo, I have to admit I'm a bit scared of spending too many days on each city, because my bookguide says they're not for all tastes. I certainly want to experience some real italian cities.
Donaill is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 09:53 AM
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There really isn't much to do at all in Taormina except stroll. The views from certain places are gorgeous. Personally I think it's very poor place for people watching as it's mostly tourists looking at other tourists. When the cruise ships are in it's best to just go sleep on a bench in the public garden. I would give it one night maybe then move on to the far more interesting places. Unless Etna happens to be very active then Taormina is a great place to watch it.
TravMimi is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 10:06 AM
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On each of my 3 visits to Sicily, I've spent respectively c.10, 6 and 4 nights in Taormina; so you can see I don't get sick of it ! But if you prefer to get about and see a lot, maybe you just want 2 nights there (using your 1 full day as - morning walking around including seeing the Greek/Roman theatre, afternoon at the beach ?) - then move on to see somewhere else ? Siracusa is very interesting.

I love it because it's the most beautiful setting of anywhere I've been in Europe - in a bowl above the blue sea, with the ruins on one side and snow capped Etna on the other. Yes, it's touristy, but to me in a nice way - it's beautiful and the streets are full of flowers and good places to eat and drink ! In all honesty I've never been aware of a cruise ship being in - maybe I haven't been there at the same times of the year ? Or I've not been out at the same times of the day ? The evening passegiata is the only time when I've seen the streets crowded and that's the same in Naples or almost anywhere in Italy. To me a big (maybe the biggest) aspect of a holiday is just strolling, plus sitting somewhere nice outside to eat and drink.

IMO your itinerary has a nice combination of big busy cities (Naples & Palermo) and smaller slower places with beach opportunities, which is how I like to play it.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
May 6th, 2007, 07:43 PM
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Thanks again for your replies.

Somehow, Taormina seems to be a bit like Capri: either you love it or you hate it. In my case, I loved Capri in spite of being packed with tourists. I can't wait to be there!

By the way, in Naples, I'd thought of starting the visit walking from Piazza del Plebiscito, going all the way up via Toledo, and, finally, strolling around the historic center. Does this seem rushed? should I split this itinerary in two days?

Donaill is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 03:07 AM
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I know I already said "by the way", but by the way, let's say I do this:

4 Naples, 2 Ischia, 2 Tropea, 2 Taormina, 3 Lipari and 4 Palermo. Will this be too much moving around for 17 nights?

How long is via Toledo in Naples compared to via del Corso in Rome?

I saw some pictures of Cefalù and I have to admit that the town looks gorgeous from afar, but not very picturesque on the inside. I think I'll leave it as plan B.

Thanks again for taking the time to read all my (sudden and kind of impulsive) questions and giving me your opinion.
Donaill is offline  
May 7th, 2007, 05:15 AM
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Donaill - I think the itinerary looks great. With 4 night each in Naples and Palermo you'll have plenty of time to see the cities and do some day trips. I think you'll have a wonderful trip!
TravMimi is offline  

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