Two questions on Sicily itinerary

Old Jan 6th, 2016, 05:19 PM
  #1  
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Two questions on Sicily itinerary

We have worked out much of our two-week stay in Sicily in fall '16 but I have two remaining questions:
1. We were thinking of getting a driver from Palermo to take us to Segesta and then to Erice where we would stay two nights. Everything I read says that the drive into Erice is a bit scary and neither of us likes driving a stick shift on mountain roads. We also hear that finding the hotels in Erice is a challenge.(My travel companion insists on bringing two large suitcases and the prospect of having to park far away from the hotel and lug the bags isn't alluring.) For all these reasons, we thought getting a driver made sense. I have no idea how expensive it is, but couldn't be awful could it? In any case, after the two nights we would then rent a car in Trapani (getting there by taxi) and take off south for Selinunte/Agrigento. Is this just a stupid idea or does it make some sense? Any other suggestions?
2. We will be staying in Siracusa for 3 nights and are at loggerheads about whether to then go to Catania or to Taormina. We do want to do a day trip to Mt. Etna so which place is best for that? I think Taormina sounds awful (beautiful but packed when we will be there early October?). We do fly out of Catania and for that reason also I thought Catania made more sense.
Thoughts please?! Thanks
losaltos is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2016, 05:45 PM
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Hi losaltos,

I arrived at the Palermo airport in the early evening after many hours of travel (2 connections) and used a driver to take me to Erice. His name was Francesco and he was just a delightful gentleman, a lifetime resident of Castellamare del Golfo. He owns a tour/transportation company that includes his catamaran. In 2013 he charged 90E and I added a tip. I can't spell his last name correctly without referring to my TR. Click on my name and I put all his contact information in the TR. His company is called bugiabianca (the name of his catamaran). I would highly recommend his company, and even better if you can talk him into driving you himself.

No need to take a taxi down to Trapani. You can take the local bus which leaves right from the main town gate.

Highly recommend you talk your traveling companion out of the 2 large bags. You will both regret it.
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:15 PM
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Definitely get rid of the two large bags. What on earth can be in them?

As Dayle says, perfectly good bus between Trapani and Erice, also between Palermo and Erice. I believe there is also some kind of cable car, but I used the bus.

I did not have much difficulty with accommodation in Erice, but I am not that fussy. I believe I stayed here: http://www.hotelmodernoerice.it/indexeng.php - but if you check some of the other Sicily TRs here you will find other suggestions.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 06:24 PM
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Hiring a driver makes sense to me, as, if you are going to stay in Erice for 2 nights, you would be renting a car just to sit in a parking lot. The drive up, by the way, is only scary if you follow your GPS instructions and head up the old road, like we did.

Almost every vehicle we have rented in Europe has had an automatic transmission. Go for that, if you're nervous, because Erice is certainly not the only hill you will encounter.

Taormina is indeed beautiful. We were there in early October, and found lots of out of the way streets to explore without crowds. Make sure you get up early to see the Theatre when it opens, and before the tour groups get there. It's a great place to relax and watch the world go by.
Also, the lovely Giardini Della Villa Communale provided a wonderful tranquil place to spend some time.
If your flight leaves early, consider staying the night in Catania.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 07:15 PM
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I should say Taormina is a great place to watch the world go by, with views.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:59 PM
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kja
 
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#2 -- I found the day-time crowds in Taormina decidedly unpleasant in mid-May 2007; I'm not sure how they would be in Oct 2016. That said, the views are spectacular, and I found ways to avoid the worst of the crowds. One of those things was a full-day group tour of Mt. Etna and Gole Alcantara -- I left very early in the morning and didn't return until after the day-trippers had left. I also went uphill to Castelmola (up by bus, down by foot) and downhill to Bella Isola (down by foot, up by funicular) -- both enjoyable, IMO. Taormina itself is tiny, with very few streets away from the main drag, but those few less packed streets can provide a welcome respite for any time you are there during the day.

I suspect that you don't want to add another change of hotels to your plan, but if your flight is early, you might want to consider spending a night in Catania. OTOH, with that much luggage, you'll probably want to take a private car to get to the airport, and I'm sure a hotel in Taormina would work with you to ensure timely arrival at the airport.

If you do take a tour to Mt. Etna, be sure to go prepared! I was glad to have very thick soled hiking shoes, protective eyeglasses, earmuffs, gloves, a hat, and lots and lots and lots of layers -- it gets COLD up there (even if the ground is so warm that I felt the heat through my hiking boots).

Hope that helps!
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 02:07 AM
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Or may be:
train from Palermo to Trapani, taxi or bus to Erice, rental car ride Erice - Segesta - Selinunte - Sciacca - Agrigento - Piazza Armerina/Casale - Caltagirone - Ragusa - Modica - Noto - Siracusa - Taormina.
neckervd is online now  
Old Jan 8th, 2016, 03:59 PM
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Thanks to all of you who made suggestions! I think we have decided to go to Taormina after all. But the bags are still going along!
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 06:38 PM
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Buon Viaggio!

I am quite sure you will hate those two large bags after 2 days or less. Perhaps the travel companion who insisted on bringing them too.

Rule # 1: the person who brings it carries it.

Rule #2: the less luggage, the more freedom!

You didn't acknowledge the info on the driver that I provided so have you already made a decision on that too?

At any rate, enjoy Sicily! Wonderful people, food, scenery, art and history and architecture,etc. etc.
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Old Jan 8th, 2016, 10:53 PM
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Your companion's two large bags are doable if you're not changing hotels too often, you're not travelling by train, and your car has a trunk big enough to accommodate them.
If you can hire someone to carry them for you, even better.
Each time we travel, our bags get lighter and smaller, as we realize upon returning what we could easily have done without.
But some people will always choose to "go big", if that's what makes them happy, power to them.
I still chuckle when thinking of my daughter's first extended trip to Dominican Republic. One whole suitcase was devoted to shoes.
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 02:51 PM
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Dayle: Sorry that I did not acknowledge the driver suggestion. But I have written it down and will contact him if we decide to use a driver. Thanks!

And yes: she carries who brings....
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