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Two one week bases in Sicily

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My research on the forum has given me a good idea of what to see and do in Sicily. Now I'm looking for some more specific recommendations. A three-generation trip (two grandparents, two kids with spouses, three pre-school grandkids) will take a two week trip to Sicily next September. I could really use some help with two things:

1. Can you help me find two "home base towns" that will allow us to see the main things on one side of the island one week and then the other side the second week? I'm not sure if this should be a north/south split or an east/west split or some other arrangement altogether. Maybe roads will be a factor as well (we'll have cars).

2. Can you help with some recommendations about places to stay in those areas? I am tentatively thinking that one week would be in an agriturismo and the other we would rent a house. I guess I should come up with the cities first, and then look for the places. It's kind of overwhelming to go to the web because there appear to be millions of places available to stay in Sicily!

Many thanks.

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    My experience with 2 trips to Sicily and I think the general thinking on the travel boards is that Sicily does not lend itself to home bases like many places do. I can understand wanting to have them and perhaps even needing them with so many people, but it will be difficult to find places where you can spend a week and only do reasonable day trips.

    Some questions for you -- How far are you willing to travel for a day trip? In general roads are good and driving is easy What are you interested in seeing & doing? Are you wanting beach time?

    I suggest you also look post on Trip Advisor. There is one poster there who is a local and is extremely helpful. She may have some good ideas for you also.

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    I think with 3 pre-school age kids in September, you really need a house/villa with air conditioning above all. You also need a location with good services when it comes to shopping. I would pick someplace flat over someplace hilly or with stairs, someplace without a lot of traffic.

    If there are sights in Sicily the adults would be absolutely heartbroken not to see, then find a small town with good services convenient to seeing it, but otherwise I would keep your sightseeing ambitions low given that mid-day September in most of Sicily can be a furnace (it's still summer) and moving 3 small children around antique theaters or baroque churches can be quite a chore. I would recommend, in addition to 2 bases, more than one car, because if some of the adults do want to head off sightseeing, whomever is staying behind with the kids should have a car available to them.

    Beaches sound nice with kids but it's probably better to make sure you have someplace that has outdoor space that has plenty of shade.

    It's possible that Vagabonda on the TripAdvisor message forum could suggest 2 nice towns for you, with good services, within easy range of the airport, that also have the opportunity for short easy day trips to fabulous sights.

    For many of us, the fascination and joy of travel to Sicily really is the people, the food, the culture. Sicily and Sicilians have a very powerful tradition, which is still very much alive, and it is a unique experience just to interact with it.

    If I were putting together a family gathring in Sicily, I would be very tempted to pick a near-town agriturismo run by a family where they cook dinner for their guests. Renting 2, 3 or 4 apartmnets on the agriturismo could work out very well (you'd have enough bathrooms!), and the Sicilan family is more than likely to adopt all of you as their own. I keep reading about an agriturismo near Agrigento called Ciuco (spelling? Help?) that is super kid friendly and the adults have a blast too. Might want to check it out.

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    When we went to Sicily, we based ourself at one place, then made a tour of the island with 1 night, max 2 (Palermo) stops.

    That way you can combine some trips at one palce, but mostly relaxing, then touring and visiting.

    That is usually what we do, with small or grown kids.


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    I am just now planning a very last minute trip to Sicily for this month. I too had hoped to do the bases type of trip, but I found (as others have said) that this is nearly impossible.

    And, I am a grandparent who just took a one week vacation here in the US with our two sets of adult children, their spouses, and their 5 young children (2, 2, 4, 6, & 8). Honestly, I can't imagine that you will be able to enjoy yourselves and drag those children around to see the sights. IMO very simple child-oriented places are what you need and want (maybe an agruturismo with farm animals for the kids). The places you stay should have access to just a few of the sights that are important to the adults, so you can take morning excursions to them (I am assuming these children all nap so some of you will need to be home in the afternoon).

    From all the research and reading I have done, I am going to suggest locations near the shore (what kid doesn't love to go to the beach?). Perhaps the Syracusa/Ortigia area and the Cefalu area. With these two as bases, the adults could do a bit of sightseeing, and the kids could have fun.

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    Hi lreynold - I remember you from Lisbon threads, nice to see you again.

    I'm afraid I'm one of the chorus, Sicily really does not lend itself to base and day trip type touring. That said, I would look for a base in or near Ortygia, and one in or near Trapani. You are definitely going to want to travel by car, public transport is slow. You might also consider a third base on one of the Aeolian islands.

    I loved Sicily, but I was there in early spring....

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    Most people view Sicily as mainly sightseeing destination, and it has not caught on like Tuscany or Umbria as a family get-together or slow-travel or "relax and soak up the atmosphere" destination.

    But there is nothing about Sicily that intrinsically does not lend itself to base and day trip type travel. You just can't take the standard famous-sights-all-the-time itinerary for Sicily and make THAT work from a base or two.

    But you can certainly take two chunks of Sicily and find a location for sleeping and eating that will enable you to be enjoying something fascinating and different every single day and not be traveling too far to do it. No, you might not see Taormina and Segesta and Monreale and Agrigento and Palermo yada yada this time around. But you might actually see some marvelous small towns and scenery other people who are barreling along on their road trips miss.

    I honestly don't think you can relocate 3 toddlers every couple of days, and I don't think you should skip Sicily. There are loads of family-sized villas for rent (as you already know), most of them in the corners of Sicily that are dense with interest and daytrips. Pick two of those corners, and figure out an easy going agenda for doing a little exploration of the real Sicily. You won't lack for wow sights, great food, fascinating towns, memorable people and experiences.

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    Sorry, but another vote on the probably-won't-work side. That said, you MIGHT be able to get away with 3 if you skip the Aeolians -- say Ortygia, Palermo or somewhere else to the west, and a night or more in Agrigento (depending on what you want to see in that part of the island). JMO. You might want to print out some copies of a map and mark it up with driving times to the places you want to see.

    It's a beautiful place - enjoy!

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    I don't know anyone who considers visiting the Aeolian islands an important thing to do for a visit to Sicily.

    If you didn't have the kids with you and you wanted to 2 bases in Sicily to see the main sites in 2 separate areas, 99 percent of people who know Sicily would say go to Siracusa for the first week and Palermo for the second, or possibly Erice/Trapani if you didn't want to see Palermo.

    I very often recommend people road trip through Sicily -- but then again, I also recommend they road trip Tuscany, or Umbria or the Valle d'Aosta.

    I see no problem in making a 2 week trip work as a 2 week trip to Italy that includes the main sights in 2 areas of Sicily -- and each of those 2 areas will have several WOW and MUST SEE sights.

    No matter what anybody tries to tell you, there is no 3-week road trip in Italy that covers all the main sights, and if you don't do that 3-week road trip, then you "missed" the great parts of Sicily.

    There is only a reduction of Sicily to a few preconceived notions of what at trip to Sicily should be because it is an island. If we were talking about Tuscany, NOBODY would be telling you having 2 bases won't work. They woudn't say that for Umbria, or Provence or Andalucia.

    There is something about an island in the middle of the mediterranean that makes people tell you "you need to have 3 weeks and road trip or you won't see anything."

    SIcily is like every other region in Italy. It is overloaded with too much to see in 3 weeks or less. There used to be a time when people who went to central Italy and cried if they couldn't find a way to see Cortona, San Gimignano, Perugia, Pisa, Assisi and Florence. That was before people figured out how rewarding it is to pick one or two small areas and see the things other people race past to get to the mosaics, the temples and volcanoes.

    Your sightseeing "problem" is not that there only 10 worthwhile things to see in Sicily that are separated by miles and miles, and that if you don't see those 10 things you might as well stay home or face it that your trip to Sicily is a flop. Your sightseeing problem is that you have 3 very small children and it will be hot, so you can't take the same trip as 99 percent of Fodorites do. Lucky you!

    You get to visit the small towns, the farms, the underground crypts, the lush villas they didn't see PLUS you also get to see several of the WOW OMG! sights they did see. They didn't see it all, even road tripping for 3 weeks. So you won't see it all either.

    I see no reason however why your trip "won't work" if you get 2 bases that both have air con. Sicily is not Idaho. It is dense with things you will never forget, even if you just had one "base".

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    I am sorry that I have been unable to come back for so long (circumstances beyond my control), but you guys have given me a lot of food for thought. Thanks so much. I guess maybe I gave the wrong impression when I talked about "seeing" the two sides of the island. What I'm looking for is two bases that would be good locations for enjoying your favorite parts of Sicily. I don't envision long drives every day to squeeze in all of the main attractions, nor do we want a road trip. Just as sandralist says, we would like to see a couple of the OMG places and spend the rest of the time enjoying the normal places where people live and recreate, just getting in some good family R&R back at the house, cooking some good meals, etc. So I was looking for suggestions on where we would most enjoyably plop ourselves down for two one week stints.

    I travel for 5-6 days in Portugal every year before an annual two week business trip to Lisbon. I've been doing this since 2004. We long ago visited all the Michelin attractions, yet I still love going to the little corners and exploring and relaxing. So I'm hoping to find a similar experience in Sicily. It seems like the two suggestions so far are (1) Ortygia and Trapani or (2) Siracusa and Palermo or Erice/Trapani. I am open to all suggestions and don't need to be able to check off any of the top rated attractions on any list.

    I do really like the idea of one week on an agriturismo and one in a house, so another way to go at this issue would be to find a highly rated agriturismo and then a well-loved home rental.

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    For me, the single best base on the east side would be Ortygia, which is part of of Siracusa. Lots to see in Ortygia / Siracusa itself, and easy public transportation to many of the sites on the eastern side of the island. JMO.

    For the west side, I think you need to decide whether you prefer (a) a lively, dynamic, "gritty" city (Palermo) or a smaller place and (b) what you want to be able to visit from your western base.

    If you pursue your option to spend one of your weeks in an agriturismo, the western side of the island might be better than the eastern side, and if you do that, I think you'll probably need a car for your agriturismo time.

    FWIW, my favorite places in Sicily included the Cathedral of Monreale; the Villa Romana del Casale; the ruins of Agrigento, Selinunte, and Segesta; Ortygia; and Palermo. And the guidebook I found best for Sicily, of the half dozen I used, was the Rough Guide. You might also want to consult the Michelin Green Guide, particularly if you opt for an agriturismo.


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    There are actually people for whom a visit to the Aeolians is a "must". I was one of them! The islands captured my interest first and were the main focus of my trip. As I researched and planed, my 2 week trip became more than 3 weeks, but I dedicated 5 of those days to the Aeolians. Loved it!

    Have you been yet?

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