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Two weeks in Sicily in September + Naples and Turin (or Lecce)

Two weeks in Sicily in September + Naples and Turin (or Lecce)

Apr 18th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Two weeks in Sicily in September + Naples and Turin (or Lecce)


I am going to spend 3 weeks in Italy next September. I want to spend two of them in Sicily. I bought a bookguide and I've been doing a lot of reading, but I can't decide on what places to visit.

Palermo, Erice, Cefalù, Taormina, Siracusa, Noto, Ragusa and the Eolian Islands are the places that seem not to be missed. I'm not interested in any of the greek ruins.

Of course, I know 2 weeks is little time to visit them all, so I'm working on my itinerary and this is what I have so far:

- 3 nights in Siracusa (daytrip to Noto or Ragusa).

- 2 nights in Taormina.

- 2 nights in Cefalù.

- 3 nights in Palermo.

- 4 nights on Lipari. (beach time and daytrip to any of the other Eolian Islands)

- Boat from Lipari to Naples for 4 or 3 nights and, finally, train from Naples to Turin (or Lecce) for 4 or 3 nights. My heart is set on Naples and Turin (or Lecce), that's why I don't want to take them off my itinerary.

I have a few questions about it:

1. Does it sound rushed?

2. Would you visit Ragusa or Noto? Or should I skip both of them and visit Erice? My Italy bookguide recommends Erice over Ragusa/Noto if you only have time for one town. My Sicily bookguide recommends the three of them.

3. Should I visit Taormina from Siracusa and Cefalù from Palermo in order to save all that moving around? I checked the trenitalia website and Cefalù is at 50 minutes from Palermo and Taormina at 2.30 hours from Siracusa. I definitely want to spend some beach time, though.

4. Should I skip Siracusa or Taormina (or both) and spend more time on any of the other locations (maybe, this way, I'll have time to visit Erice)?

5. Which Eolian Island shouldn't I miss as a daytrip? Like I said before, I want to spend some beach time, so I just want to visit one island and spend the other two days on Lipari resting.

Thanks for sharing your opinion and experience.
Castellanese is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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It sounds oxymoronic to me to spend time in Sicily and NOT visit the archeologic sites; they are majestic and IMHO not to be missed, in particular: Segesta on the way from Palermo to Erice; Selinunte, which is on the way to Agrigento, those ruins lit up at night are spectacular.

I wouldn't spend any more time than necessary in Palermo: big, noisy, aside from the Norman palace, i didn't find anything worthwhile in that city. Nearby though, not to be missed is the church and cloisters of Monreale, gorgeous. Erice is charming and quiet and well worth at least one overnight, depending on your daytripping. We missed Siracusa altogether cuz we only had a week to tour there; but again, the archeologic sites are supposed to be wonderful there. We stayed 2 nights in beautiful Taormina, can't recall hotel name and it was more than 10 years ago anyway; it's charming, though touristy, the pedestrian streets and view to Etna. I've heard Cefalu is a quaint fishing village?? Can't comment on the islands. If you've time, though, well worth the side trip, is the 3rd century Roman Villa de Casale, I think, on a country road in the interior; spectacular mosaic floor restorations, it may be not far from Noto, you'd have to check.

happy planning
mfk59 is offline  
Apr 18th, 2007, 10:46 AM
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Looks like you have a great itinerary! I'd vist Noto instead of Ragusa and I would make Erice a day trip from Palermo and stop by to see the salt pans of Trapani. Cefalu has a great beach and beautiful historic center. I would stay right in the historic center.
Instead of staying in Taormina if you want more beach stay down in Letojanni, very cute little beach resort. Lipari is the best base for island hopping. Lots of hydrofoil connections. You can also save Stromboli for the last day and board the ship to Naples from there very late in the evening 10pm instead of boarding at Lipari which is about 5pm.
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 02:57 PM
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Mfk59, I'm really not interested in the ruins, although I'm considering doing a daytrip to Erice and Segesta with a tour operator. Thanks for your opinion, though.

TravMimi, I'm considering leaving out Siracusa, though. My bookguide describes it as a wonderful place, but I'm not impressed by the pictures I've seen of it. In regards to Letojanni, I'm going to look up information about it. Thanks for suggesting it.

If I left out Siracusa, my itinerary would be like this:

3 nights in Taormina,
2 nights in Cefalù,
4 nights in Palermo (Segesta/Erice),
4 nights on Lipari,
4 nights in Naples (Pompeii)
4 nights in Turin.

I'm looking up hotels on the Internet, which is the only part of planning a trip that I don't like. I've found a few ones, but I still have a lot to look up.

Anybody else?

Castellanese is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 02:59 PM
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Leaving off Siracusa is fine. The really nice part is the island Ortygia, but it's not as if you won't see other wonderful seaside towns.
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 03:04 PM
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Forgot the hotel part. for Lipari there are 3 very nice ones - Rocce Azzurre, Giardino sul Mare and Carasco. There is also a great B&B near the hydrofoil port - Casa Mafalda. For Vulcano there is the very nice Les Sables Noir with a black sand beach of course.
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 03:22 PM
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The only changes I would make (and this is just me!) is not to base in Palermo. We found it to be a chaotic (read non-relaxing and stressful) city.

Our favourite spots (out of those that interest you) in Sicily were Erice and Cefalu. Our others were the Greek ruins - glorious and majestic. We liked Ragusa, Noto and Siracusa as well. There were tons of wee hilltowns near Cefalu that we drove through that were fabulous. If you do that type of exploring I would suggest renting a car.

Try to take advantage of the towns in the evenings if you can - quieter.

travel2live is offline  
Apr 19th, 2007, 04:18 PM
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I just topped my Sicily trip report that may help you. It takes 2 weeks to see Sicily. From there, I would do Puglia{Lecce[ which is what we did in 2000. My wife loved Noto and Taormina.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 12:12 AM
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Glad you decided for 4 night in Turin. From Naples the best way is travelling by plane, otherwise you will spoil one entire day travelling.
This link should help you plan your visit:
You will love the National Cinema Museum and the Egyptian Museum.
Go to Eataly (www.eataly.it) to learn about Italian food and wine, to eat or buy and also, if you like, to have a cooking lesson.
September is also a great season for wine and food festivals all around Piemonte.
zorba_01 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 01:13 AM
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Be advise that Taormina itself if VERY touristy (designer label stores and tourist junk galore). Castelmora is another option for access to Taormina and the views but not the crowds.

If you have other beach time in Sicily, I would skip Siracusa/Ortygia if antiquity sightseeing is not your thing.

Torino and Naploli are great cities with great food and wildly different cultures. Have fun! I second the advice to fly between them. (Do not stay at an airport hotel in Napoli. Spring for a taxi, hired by your hotel, to get there.)

fall06 is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 07:19 AM
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I'm just curious is there a specific reason why you are staying in Naples instead of Sorrento or the Amalfi coast?
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 20th, 2007, 08:38 PM
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Hi Castellanese, If it's beach time you're looking for, check out San Vito Lo Capo. I hear it's a great little beach town. A popular spot for Italians to vacation. We almost made it there but enjoyed our stay on Vulcano so much (Les Sables Noir) we ran out of time and had to skip SVLC. We went for two weeks the end of Sept and beginning of October. We didn't make hotel reservations and winged it--I did bring a list of potential places to stay.

If you're not into ruins, I wouldn't spend so many nights in Siracusa. Although most of the people on Fodors love it, we didn't. We found it to be really dirty. Especially with dog waste all over. Great place to see ruins though.

We thought Taormina was beautiful. Maybe I'd feel differently if it were jammed packed with people. There is a beach town at the base of Taormina where you could stay. Hotel Villa Sant'Andrea is very nice. You can travel from the beach of Taormina to the actual town of Taormina by funicular, which is kind of fun. Do go to the town above Taormina. (Castelmola) http://www.castelmola.com/

I have to say that we really enjoyed Palermo. We thought the catacombs were trippy. We were able to take the train to Agrigento for a day trip and we enjoyed very much seeing the gorgeous church in Monreale by bus from Palermo. Also, if you like shopping, they have a really nice upscale section of Palermo for shopping and dining too. We felt safe. We walked to the marina area to have dinner. However, if you don't like cities you probably would not like Palermo.

Have a great time. We met some really nice people there. Some kind and helpful people. We also met a couple dishonest cashiers so pay attention to your change. A couple of times we would hand over 20 euro and were given change for 10. After saying "Ti ho datto venti" (I gave you twenty) they apologized and made the right change.
Pilates is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 09:06 AM
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Hi again everybody,

Thanks TravMimi for the hotel suggestions on Lipari. I've already been to Capri and Positano, so now I want to visit Naples and Pompeii. I know I can stay in Sorrento and daytrip to both Naples and Pompeii, but I've had bad experiences daytripping to big cities.

Thanks for the suggestion Travel2Live, but I want to experience Palermo. I'm definitely daytripping to Segesta and Erice with a tour operator. I wanted to visit Noto and Ragusa, but it only seems doable from Siracusa.

Thanks Zorba_1 for the links and your opinion on Turin. It looks like a great city. I'm definitely taking a train from Turin to Naples. It's only an hour and a half by plane while it's almost 10 hours by train. I already checked the Alitalia website and the flight isn't that expensive.

Thanks Fall06 for your opinion on Taormina, Siracusa and Castelmola. I've read a lot about Taormina being not the real Sicily and for being so touristy, but so is Capri and I really liked it.

Thanks Pilates for encouraging me to stay in Palermo, the warning about the cashiers and the hotel suggestion in Taormina. I have read a lot about the Zingaro Reserve, but I can't fit San Vito lo Capo in my itinerary.

Thanks BobtheNavigator, I'm going to check your Sicily trip report.

Does anybody have suggestions for hotels in the historic center of Palermo and Cefalù? I already found possible hotels in Turin, Naples, Lipari and Taormina, but none in Palermo or Cefalù. My budget is no more than 100 Euros for a double room with breakfast included.

Thanks again!
Castellanese is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2007, 10:55 AM
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100 E for something good in the historic center of Palermo would take lots of research. Massimo Plaza in Palermo is very nice but more than that. It's across from the opera house. Politeama is a large type city hotel right on a main piazza. Very interesting to have a drink at night and watch from your balcony. We like B&B Ma e Mi in Cefalu. Right in town with great views.
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 03:02 AM
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Thanks TravMimi for the hotels recommendations in Palermo and Cefalù. I haven't checked the B&B in Cefalù yet, but the hotels are a bit expensive.

Would it be a bad idea to base in Monreale to visit Palermo? I love staying in convents and I found one for 60 Euros per a double room with breakfast. I read Monreale it's a 30 minute bus ride from Palermo.
Castellanese is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 03:26 AM
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Just to give a different viewpoint from those who didn't like Palermo & did like Cefalu - I'd say spend at least 4 nights in Palermo. On the most recent of our 3 trrips to Sicily we spent a week there & found it so fascinating we never even made it to Mopnreale. OTOH we found Cefalu a bit depressing & left early. I love Siracusa and have been twice, for 2 nights each time; but if you're not interested in the archaeological remains you may as well skip it.

We found an hour or two in Ragusa enough.

Where are you flying to, Catania ? If so I'd say do 3 nights in Taormina, 4 nights on Lipari with day trips to Panarea and Stromboli, and a week in Palermo.

But if you're not interested in the archaeological remains, I'm a bit unsure about why you are going to Sicily, other than to go to the beach ? Beach + Baroque towns ?

I highly recommend Naples - we spent a week in Naples last year, loved that too, and also found so much to do there that we still didn't make it to Pompei (after 5 trips to Campania !!).
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 07:18 AM
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Monreale is a beautiful hill town and 20-30min by bus from Palermo. Bus 389 goes from Piazza Indipendenza to Monreal Duomo and back. Nothing wrong with staying there it's lovely. It has some beautiful views of Palermo. I've never stayed up there because I really love Palermo and like being in the middle of it. I love the street markets and all the shops, food and different cultures. I mentioned the hotels I know because that is were we stay. Sorry I can't be of more help.
TravMimi is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2007, 08:30 PM
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Thanks Mimi and Caroline, I'm definitely staying in Palermo and skipping Siracusa.

Well, it turns out that the convent I found isn't in Monreale but in San Martino delle Scale. However, I talked to one of the monks there and he told me that there are a lot of convents in Palermo that offer lodging. I'm going to look up information about them on the Internet. I've stayed in convents in Rome, Florence and Venice, and I've certainly had wonderful experiences.

I have this other dilemma (I hope it's the last one): should I start in Turin and finish in Palermo? I was going to start in Palermo and finish in Turin, but then I thought that, maybe, it would be cold by the time I get to Turin. When I went to Italy last year, I started on Capri and finished in Milan, and it rained a bit in Florence and Venice.

Would there be good weather in Sicily if I leave it for the end of my trip?

The dates of my itinerary are as follow:

Arrival in Turin on Sep 2nd (4 nights),
Naples on Sep 6th (4 nights),
Lipari on Sep 10th (4 nights),
Taormina on Sep 14th (3 nights),
Cafelù on Sep 17th (2 nights),
Palermo on Sep 19th (4 nights),
Departure from Palermo on Sep 23rd.

Thanks, again, for sharing your opinions.
Castellanese is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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That sounds a very nice trip. In September you should get good weather everwhere, but I'd also do Turin first as it is less certain there than in Sicily.

How are you now planning to get from Naples to Sicily ? If you fly to Catania it would be easier to do Taormina first then Lipari. Alternatively you might be able to get an overnight ferry, which would mean you wouldn't lose a day.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Apr 24th, 2007, 06:53 AM
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Castell - looks like a wonderful itinerary. I've never stayed in the convents, but I'm sure you could easliy find some great ones in Palermo. You might only want to VISIT the catacombs at the convent of the Cappuchins. I would certainly start in the north as I'm a weather traveler. Sicily is gorgeous in September. Check out some of the overnight ferries from Naples to various points in Sicily. They are great fun and also don't waste precious sightseeing time. They probably won't have schedules up for Sept. but just email the question. I think you are going to have a wonderful trip.
TravMimi is offline  

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