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Trip to Sicily and Malta - leaving soon but still too many questions :-)

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May 2nd, 2014, 12:56 PM
  #1
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Trip to Sicily and Malta - leaving soon but still too many questions :-)

We are (2 couples) leaving for a 2 weeks trip to Sicily and Malta in a month. It took us a while to finalize our itinerary and make last minute changes, especially after the only car rental location in Pozzalo ( ferry to Malta) closed a few weeks ago.
Here our latest itinerary and questions. Will appreciate any comments/advice

Few general questions first – Have trouble finding any guided walking tours anywhere in Sicily. These tours are so common now in the rest of Europe so strange cannot find any here. Only private ones. Does anybody found any good guided tours in Palermo, Syracusa, Agrigento, Villa Romana, Modica, Ragusa, Noto, Malta? Good audio tours/phone apps? Or just plain good walking tours with the walking map. Books/websites have Palermo but could not find anything really good for other places.

Any restaurant suggestions, musical events with Italian music are very much appreciated.

June 6th – leaving NY
June 7th – arrive Catania and take a taxi to Taormina

June 8th – Taormina – plan to walk around the city and take a boat ride http://www.taorminaescursioni.it/public/escursioni.asp, may be go to a beach before boat ride . Any suggestion how is the best to organize a day and previous evening in Taormina? Did anybody go to concert in Teatro Greco? Looks pretty expensive. What is not to miss?

June 9th – Taxi to Catania, Flight to Malta. In Malta we are staying in Sliema for 4 nights. Spend a day in Valetta, Sliema, St. Julian
June 10th – Malta – Mdina-Rabat, then to Camino – Blue lagoon
June 11th – Malta – day in Gozo
June 12th – Malta - Dingli cliffs, Hagar Qim, Blue Grotto, Marsaxlokk
Will ask my Malta questions in Malta forum 

June 13th – early morning flight back to Catania, rent a car and drive to Mt.Etna and then to Syracusa/Ortigia – overnight in Ortigia
Mt Etna – Planning to buy combine ticket that includes furnivia, jeep ride and a guided tour. Site does not have much info. How long is guided walk? Would we be able to walk ourselves after that before going down? What are the best places to visit? We would love to visit winery for a lunch after Mt. Etna before driving to Syracusa. Any suggestions?

June 14th - Syracusa/Ortigia , Noto– overnight in Ortigia.
We plan to walk around Ortygia previous day – afternoon/evening. This morning go to Archeological park and Museum. Then visit Noto and come back to Ortygia for another late afternoon/evening. Did anybody take a boat in Ortigia? Found this website offering 2 1 hour tours – 1 grotto with the swim and 1 around harbor. Would love to go to grotto and swim! Did anybody take this tour?

June 15th - Modica, Ragusa – overnight in Ragusa
How is the best to plan this day? How much time to walk around Ragusa Ibla? Modica? Should we go to Marina di Ragusa for a beach and seafood?

June 16th – Raguza – Piazza Armerina to visit Villa Romana – Agrigento – overnight in Agrigento
Is there possible to hire a guide outside of Villa Romana? How long does the visit take?
After arriving to Agrigento plan to relax a little bit on the beach - Scala dei Turchi. Is it really good and beautiful as in the pictures? We would like to see lighted Temples. They will not be opened yet in June but would we be able to see it while driving? Stopping for a view?

June 17th –visit Temples, drive to Marsala visit winery, drive to Erice – overnight in Erice
We booked private tours to visit temples in the morning. Then we plan to drive to Marsala and visit Florio winery. Is it worth a visit?

June 18th – Erice - Segesta-Montreale – Palermo – overnight in Palermo
What is the best walk around Erice? Still debating if we should stop at San Vito lo Capo or Scopello for a beach and move Montreale to the next day along with Cefalu?

June 19th – Cefalu – overnight Palermo
Is Cefalu walkable? What is the best beach? Can we walk from beach to Duomo/city center? Is it easy to find parking?

June 20-21st – Palermo
We booked private 3-4 hours walking tour. Then we are on our own. What is must to visit in Palermo? What are the best experiences?
June 22nd - fly back home
Irina11 is offline  
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May 2nd, 2014, 01:10 PM
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I've been writing a trip report about my time in Sicily at the end of Feb/beginning of March, you may be interested in reading it. Here is the link: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm

We had a delicious meal at Osteria Rosso diVino in Taormina. We also had a wonderful visit to the Benanti Winery in Viagrande which is beteen Taormina and Catania (closer to Catania)

Here is the website for Osteria Rosso di Vino:
http://www.osteriarossodivino.com/about.htm

Here is the website for Benanti Winery:
http://www.vinicolabenanti.it/en/home/

Hope this helps.
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May 2nd, 2014, 01:16 PM
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Is there a market in Marsaxlokk on Monday? Often markets are closed on Mondays. The best day for this market is Sunday.

There's nothing much in Sliema so I would not spend a day here. Same for St. Julian's. Use the time to finish seeing things in Valetta or go to the Aviation Museum (WWII planes) and the craft market.

Are you really going to see 2 blue grottoes? It seems like overkill. The one on Malta is in the south so you would need to carefully check out public transportation to get there and back.

You could visit the blue grotto on Gozo and not have to worry about getting to Camino or the south end of Malta.

No Hypogeum? That's the best of the temples. Need to book ahead as only 10 people go in at a time.

https://booking.heritagemalta.org/

There is no Malta forum, only a European forum with tags for various countries. I've asked the editors to add a tag for Malta.

Cefalu is a small town and you can walk everywhere. I only saw one beach.

Must visit in Palermo:
Oratorio (I saw the Orario di S. Cita)
Monreale Cathedral
Vucciria Market
Palazzo Reale (Norman Palace), particularly the Cappella Palatina
Puppet show
Palazzo Abatellis (excellent museum)
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May 3rd, 2014, 08:38 PM
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LowCountryIslander, Your report is great, I saved restaurant recommendations
We will be staying in Palermo in Ambasciatori Hotel as well and in Taormina in Continental hotel - I booked it for a terrace view

Adrienne, Thanks for info on Malta! We are not planning to spent much time in Sliema & St.Julian , just to take an evening walk and go for a dinner. Any suggestions for a good restaurant there? What is the best beach in Sliema if we have time?
We planned to go to Blue Groto s because we like this kind of sceneries and for a swim. Are you saying they all look alike?
We were thinking about Hypogeum but could not fit it into our 4 days. I guess we are wrong and should not miss it. I read it is an underground burial site, not a temple. Does it have temples as well?
Would you recommend taking a ho bus tour in Goso or just use buses there?
Thanks for Palermo recommendations. Is there only one puppet show?
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May 3rd, 2014, 09:31 PM
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Good restaurants - I can't help you out with this for two reasons. It's been several years since I visited Malta and the food there is not great. I spent 12 days on Malta and can't think of any outstanding meals. No one goes to Malta for the food.

I only saw one beach in Sliema - it's a shingle beach and did not look at all appealing. The good beaches are in the north; these are the sand beaches - Mellieha Bay and Golden Bay. There may be more but these are the two I saw. If you're going at the beginning of June the water will probably be too cold to swim although it should be warm enough at the beginning of June to lie on the beach.

I only visited one grotto but they should be all the same as the definition is a cave or cavern (like the one on Capri). There's no scenery - you're surrounded by rock. You get in a small boat and go through a rocky wall with an archway and you're in the grotto. You can only swim if the boatman allows you to get in and out of the boat. You may not be the only passengers and if they wait for a group to fill the boat then the boatman won't want to spend the time waiting for you to swim. You need to be agile to get in and out of a small boat - think large rowboat with a motor. If the water is rough the boats cannot go through the opening to get to the grotto.

I guess the Hypogeum is a necropolis but is also believed to be a sanctuary. I considered it a temple (I must have heard it described as such) since the carvings are similar to the above ground temples and you'll notice structural similarities. It's more preserved than the other temples and I found it more interesting. You should see one of the ruined temples and the Hypogeum.

I never take HOHO buses so I can't make a recommendation.

I'm sure there is more than one puppet theater in Palermo as they are a Sicilian tradition. I went to the theater owned by the Cuticchio family and I think it was in the area of Teatro Massimo. It's only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
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May 4th, 2014, 02:03 PM
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Irina...glad I could help!
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May 5th, 2014, 08:04 PM
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Is Erice, Segesta and Montreale doable in one day? We've been thinking of doing Erice and Segesta one day and then do Montrale & Cefalu from Palermo the other day but everybody is saying we should not drive in Palermo and Montreale. Any suggestions?
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May 5th, 2014, 09:44 PM
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If you're staying in Palermo you can take a train to Cefalu; it takes about an hour. I would not have a car in Palermo as you won't have any use for it.

Erice, Segesta, and Monreale is a very long day unless you only spend a short time in each place. I went to Monreale on a Sunday so I can't say what weekdays are like. On Sunday there were few people. You can park below the church and walk up the stairs. Look for the tour buses and park in that area.
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May 6th, 2014, 02:05 PM
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Thanks Adrienne!
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