6 days in sicily-need some advice

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mark rudner
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6 days in sicily-need some advice

#1 Post by mark rudner » January 16th, 2020, 7:18 am

i've read every note from every thread here, and feel i have a good jumping off point. at first i thought we'd drive the entire island but now see there's just no way.
it's either a) fly into catania and stay in a triangle from cefalu, taormina, and siracusa or
b) fly into catania and make the triangle bigger by flying out of palermo and seeing some of that western area as well

the only hotel i know i'd like to stay in so far is shalai on etna.
all advice greatly appreciated as the board's help on prior travels has proven invaluable [cheers.gif]

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#2 Post by Ian Sutton » January 16th, 2020, 12:05 pm

Hi Mark
My experience is limited in Sicily (a night in Catania and a week on Lipari). However
- Instead of hotels, do consider Agristurismo accomodation, as it's often very good, very hospitable and very good value. In particular, staying on a wine estate can be ideal. Where these places serve evening meals, they can be wonderful spreads of local food. Most are set up well for single and 2 night stays.
- Open Jaw tickets like your 2nd option can be a great way to avoid backtracking, so a good idea, but so are effective triangles. There may be a small charge for dropping a hire car off at a different airport, so do check this
- You're sensibly scaling back the aims. Now have a think about what you want the trip to be - a road trip hitting a new place to stay every day? If so I'd lean towards countryside and coast, avoiding the big cities except as a place you drive out of on arrival and near to on exit. Alternatively having a single base that is your rural refuge can appeal. You drive each day to somewhere new and that can also include into a city, but the journey back becomes familiar and reassuring.
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#3 Post by mark rudner » January 16th, 2020, 12:49 pm

ian
will definitely do at least one agriturismo property, and probably stay in 3 different places.
thanks for the sensible advice about open jaw and car returns

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#4 Post by Ramon C » January 16th, 2020, 2:47 pm

Not to complicate your plans/options, we did the bigger triangle, but quite the opposite of your plan.

I met up with my wife in Catania airport, went south and spent 2 nights in Siracusa/Ortigia. Then we drove south and spent a night in Ragusa. Drove north-west and spent either a night or 2 each in Agrigento, Trapani and Palermo, where we returned our car.

Ragusa, Agrigento and Trapani were cool stops for the sights (and good restaurant in Ragusa and Trapani). Palermo was like driving in hell, and I'm used to driving in crowded Asian cities, as well as in much larger European cities like Paris and Rome.

We stayed in boutique-type hotels. Clean, well run and within the city centers.
Also, no drop-off charges with our car rental then - 2016.
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#5 Post by Barry L i p t o n » January 16th, 2020, 3:37 pm

If you a have a passion for Greek ruins, then Agrigento is a must (and then you can take in the one near Palermo). Otherwise I’d vote for a smaller area .

Italy has a million sites. However the best times seem to be had by those experiencing La Dolce Vita, not those people seeing the most sites. Rarely is La Dolce Vita found by driving a Fiat (or even an Audi). Ninety percent of the time, the place you are is as nice as the place you are going two. If six nights means four days outside of airports, then I would just do Taormina and Siracusa (perhaps a day trip in the country if you want). Checking out/checking in takes away from time strolling around.
Last edited by Barry L i p t o n on January 16th, 2020, 3:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#6 Post by Barry L i p t o n » January 16th, 2020, 3:39 pm

I personally prefer centrally locates hotels do there are days not driving. By the way, the Sicilian drivers make the Roman drivers seem meek. But other people like the countryside and enjoy driving more than me.

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#7 Post by mark rudner » January 16th, 2020, 4:24 pm

barry
this is a la dolce vita trip (they all are for us [highfive.gif] )
we have 6 full days on the ground in sicily

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#8 Post by Ian Sutton » January 17th, 2020, 3:31 am

I do very much agree with Barry's view that 'less is more' i.e. the more you try to cram in, the less enjoyable the holiday becomes. I may disagree on hotels (I spent too much time in them through work), so tend towards the more personal touch of agriturismo and/or the flexibility and space of apartments. Hotels do offer a support network via the front desk that can be very reassuring (and in perfect English).

Driving in any large Italian city is typically intimidating / scary. However the big Southern cities have a special reputation and rather a lot of dented cars, this despite Italian driving skills being some of the highest I've encountered. If you're not a confident and assertive driver, then it's generally best to avoid driving in the big cities, or choosing when you do so.

I think the key for Mark is a real focus on what 'enjoyable' means (and conversely what is not enjoyable). If you can work this out, then it does help planning a lot. e.g. for us driving in the countryside is lovely, but only occasioanally into cities via a carefully plotted route and when the traffic won't be crazy. We find joy in pretty much all locations except for the run down / dangerous and overly touristed places (which typically make me feel they've removed a large part of the culture to accomodate us). People off the beaten track are so often friendly and hospitable, though even though more speak Englsih every year, it really does pay to be able to hold a basic conversation. We enjoy cities, but always without a car. For me the great appeal in the cities is food grazing the specialist shops, either to eat there or take home on the plane.

Others have different interests, and it can take a while to really get a grip on what excites.
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#9 Post by Mike Wenzel » January 17th, 2020, 10:49 am

We flew from Rome into Catania and spent four nights in Taormina. We did not rent a car. We arranged transport from the airport, and hired a car to take a tour of Etna and visit some wineries, which was arranged through our hotel.

I have driven in NYC plenty, and would want no parts of driving in Taormina. Tiny streets, nowhere for pedestrians to get out of the way, it was nuts.

We stayed at the Hotel Villa Belvedere, which was wonderful. They offer apartments a block from the hotel, so we stayed in an apartment with a view of the sea, and walked over to the hotel each morning for breakfast. Picture below is view of Etna from our deck. We were able to walk down to the beach from our hotel and swim in in mid-October. It was spectacular. We looked into exploring further out, flying out of Palermo, etc. but were too short on time.

I found Sicily a pretty special place, and we definitely plan to return for a longer trip. I agree with the sentiment that less is more, and the inclusion of Palermo seems ambitious.
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#10 Post by mark rudner » January 17th, 2020, 12:22 pm

hi mike
while that sounds relaxing, i've got 6 full day on the island and will need to get around a bit more, but agree that palermo is just too much.
i'm glad you threw in the line about nyc because i drive there quite a bit and figured i'd be able to get by in sicily. i guess not!

may cut it down to siracusa, taormina and etna

that hotel looks beautiful btw, thanks

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#11 Post by Barry L i p t o n » January 17th, 2020, 3:58 pm

I learned to drive in NYC and have no problems there. Have drove from FCO to my hotel in central Rome on two occasions (before I wised up). Sicily was another level than Rome, which is worse than NY. passing on the right is common, cutoffs more common, etc.

I slowed down in a neighborhood in Siracusa to let a 10 year old boy pass, he flipped me a two handed double bird as if you drive with any caution, you must be an emasculated man.

My solution was to park outside Taormina but a car was useful for going between towns. I’d be in a town for three nights and not move the car.

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#12 Post by doug johnson » January 18th, 2020, 11:57 am

Taormina driving was fine for me. It wasn't that crowded and the place was small. Only Palermo traffic was daunting.

Palermo is pretty great. Taormina did not feel Sicilian to me - it is more of a "resort". Etna area is great fun though. Hit up Cave Ox. I really liked Segesta over Agrigento and found a night and early morning in quiet Erice magical. Skip La Madia.

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#13 Post by mark rudner » January 19th, 2020, 11:20 am

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
January 17th, 2020, 3:58 pm
I learned to drive in NYC and have no problems there. Have drove from FCO to my hotel in central Rome on two occasions (before I wised up). Sicily was another level than Rome, which is worse than NY. passing on the right is common, cutoffs more common, etc.

I slowed down in a neighborhood in Siracusa to let a 10 year old boy pass, he flipped me a two handed double bird as if you drive with any caution, you must be an emasculated man.

My solution was to park outside Taormina but a car was useful for going between towns. I’d be in a town for three nights and not move the car.
that bit about the 10 year old is going to have me thinking. omg that's hilarious!

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#14 Post by mark rudner » January 19th, 2020, 11:21 am

and doug, your comment about taormina makes me think i should avoid it
if i want the rustic sicilian experience, resort is probably not he right feel, thanks

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#15 Post by mark rudner » January 22nd, 2020, 7:43 am

anyone do a ferry from milazzo to the aeolian islands? is it a place to spend a night?

looks like we will spend 2 nights on etna and one in taormina, or even stay low enough to head into taormina for an afternoon.
that leaves us 3 or 4 nights and the islands sound like something we would like

thanks again

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#16 Post by mark rudner » January 23rd, 2020, 12:51 pm

the research continues. from wendy perrin.
"Most overrated place
Many visitors include the famous hilltop town of Taormina on their Sicily bucket list, and for some compelling reasons: The town features amazing views of both Mt. Etna and the Mediterranean, elite dining spots, and some of the best accommodations on the island. However, its tiny streets are frequently clogged with large tour groups on shore excursions from their cruise ships, and its geographical position limits day-trip options. If you stay here, you’ll end up isolated from local life and culture."

this is just not going to work for us. looks like we won't be seeing taormina!

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#17 Post by Ian Sutton » January 23rd, 2020, 3:26 pm

mark rudner wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 7:43 am
anyone do a ferry from milazzo to the aeolian islands? is it a place to spend a night?
Yes, though a few yers ago. We stayed a week on Lipari, but also used the opportunity to visit Vulcano, Stromboli and Panarea.

Spending the night, no I'd say that's missing the point. You're getting the chilled pace of island life, with the ability to day trip by ferry or grab an excursion, but that's much better done with a longer stay.

If I were to do one thing from Milazzo, oddly it would be Vulcano for a weird day trip. It's a nothing much sort of place, with a reasonably heavy sulphur/sulfur stink, but bathing in the volcanic mud and then washing off in the sea with some scarily hot parts, is an abiding memory of the trip. It helps that it's the nearest to Milazzo.

Alternatively look for any evening trips from Milazzo to see Stromboli and its natural fireworks.

No reason to mess about by having a single night on the islands - just too much hassle.
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#18 Post by mark rudner » January 24th, 2020, 9:15 am

i don't think i've ever planned a trip to a place with so many possibilities. each new town i read about makes me change my plan. taormina seems so attractive yet the disney references and cruise ship traffic have reduced it to a possible evening visit. noto seems amazing. etna can't be missed. panarea is calling my name.
and this is just the east coast!!!
not going til the end of june so still lots of time to plan and all flights are booked, in and out of catania.

thanks again ian [cheers.gif]

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#19 Post by LoriMcLaughlin » February 6th, 2020, 7:21 pm

We were in Sicily for 11 nights in May. Loved all of it. With six nights, I’d suggest flying in/out of either Palermo or Catania. Too much to do for the whole island.

We spent five nights between Ortigia and Taormina including one day trip on Etna. Taormina is most charming when the day crowds leave. It’s a lovely place to walk in the evenings through the gardens and enjoy a quiet dinner in one of the squares or on the beach. Hubby drove throughout Sicily with no issues and directly to our hotel in Taormina! And if you stay in Taormina you have a chance to see the Roman Theater before the crowds arrive. And the views of the volcano at dawn and dusk are breathtaking. But it is a touristy town so a lot more foreigners/tourist and a lot of Americans compared to the more remote areas of the island.

We really enjoyed Ortigia and had 1/2 day in Noto for the Infiorato and dinner. We thought we’d be one and done for Sicily but we can’t wait to return.

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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#20 Post by Riccardo Campinoti » February 7th, 2020, 1:44 am

mark rudner wrote:
January 22nd, 2020, 7:43 am
anyone do a ferry from milazzo to the aeolian islands? is it a place to spend a night?

looks like we will spend 2 nights on etna and one in taormina, or even stay low enough to head into taormina for an afternoon.
that leaves us 3 or 4 nights and the islands sound like something we would like

thanks again
The Aeolian islands are one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. easy ferry ride but you have to stay at least a couple of days. You can also do some cool winery visits in Salina
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Re: 6 days in sicily-need some advice

#21 Post by mark rudner » February 7th, 2020, 8:33 am

thanks lori and riccardo
i was able to extend our trip by 1 night and have been thinking that 2 nights on and around etna, 3 nights in the islands and 2 nights in taormina may be the plan.
as much as i know taormina is super touristy, i think i would still like some time there.
we are still flying in and out of catania.

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