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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Ian Sutton
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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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Ramon C
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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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Ian Sutton
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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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Mike Wenzel
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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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