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Old 12-11-2012, 01:53 PM   #1
kipperfan
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I'm taking a trip to Italy in a few weeks and am looking for some advice with regards to the week or so I am going to spend in Sicily. I have been to Italy a couple times before but have never been to Sicily so any advice would be appreciated. Right now I am thinking of staying a couple of nights in Palermo, three nights in Syracuse and 2 more in Catania and the only real things I have on my must do list is hiking Mt. Etna and a WW2 museum in Catania…but looking for some good tips.

I am open to almost anything and really love history and museums….any recommendations will be appreciated.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:04 PM   #2
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Taormina is amazing- my favorite place in Sicily. Close to Mt Etna as well.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:27 PM   #3
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"Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line."
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:34 PM   #4
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I couldn't go to Sicily and not set foot in Corleone.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:49 PM   #5
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We flew into Palermo, spent one night there, then drove across the northern coast for 4 days, staying in various small towns ending with 2 days in Catania.
The drive is nice, though some of the towns are on top of crazy steep hills! And driving in towns can be nuts with really narrow streets and locals with no regard for rules or lanes.
Mount Etna is a good 1/2 day trip from Catania. We drove to the base, took the gondola up, then got on the shuttle that takes you as near to the summit as allowed. From there, you can walk around a couple calderas but you are no longer allowed to climb to the active crater. It is definitely worth paying the extra for the gondola and shuttle - we saw a lot of students and such taking the cheaper option of walking it, but it's truly not worth it between the heat , the boring scenery and the dust. of course, if you're going in winter, bundle up - the top will be freezing cold (it may even be a full ski hill right now). I was ther ein the summer, it was 38C in Catania and about 15C up top with snow still present.

Since you're a history guy, I'd definitely recommend 2+ days in Palermo - so much history there and it shows in the architecture and city lay out.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:09 PM   #6
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Syracuse is entirely skippable.

I've heard great things about the Noto-Avola area, and the surrounding beaches.

Mt Etna is awesome, as is Catania and Palermo.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:41 AM   #7
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Agrigento has some Greek ruins, think something very similar to the Acropolis,

In the very centre Piazza Armerina has a neat archeological area, I believe it was the where the people lived who sourced all the animals for the Colosseum in the Roman Era. The entire palace is covered in tile mosaics depicting life at the time. They were restoring it while we were there 4 years ago, neat place.

Mt. Etna - already discussed

Taormina, Province of Messina, Sicilia, Italy This is a neat town nestled on a hill top. Really cool place that once you have finished weaving your way through town, you end up in a Greek amphitheater that over looks the Ionian Sea. I would highly recommend this place.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:57 AM   #8
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I visited the ancient town of Erice (I believe its in Palermo?). It was cool with alot of small shops and cafes, and its up top a mountain so you have to take a Gondola up.

I visited the ruins of Agregento, which was really nice.

The coastal town of Sciacca is beautiful. I have a cousin who owns a Villa and stayed there for almost a week.

Stayed with family in the small town of Giuliana as well. Its neighbour is the town of Corleone and I was disappointed my family didn't make a point to visit it when we were there. Probably a few family feuds from way back that they aren't telling me about ;-)

Checked out alot of the beaches around Sciacca and a few others spots I can't remember, but the beaches were absolutely beautiful.

Wish I payed more attention during my trip.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:50 AM   #9
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I spent a day in Sicily - a day trip from my in-laws' place in Calabria. We only made it as far as Taormina, which as mentioned, is a really interesting place. It just has no business sitting there on the side of a mountain like that, and it is definitely worth a visit.

If you are taking the ferry from Reggio Calabria, get your driving face ready for Messina. The driving in Messina was similar to other Italian cities (read: a bit stressful), but I actually found it to be even more chaotic than "normal". Could have been the time of day, could have been the in-laws in the back seat, but it was actually one of the most confusing and frustrating driving experiences I have ever had. Just throw out your polite, Canadian habits and do your best to mimic the locals and their driving.

Between cities, on the other hand, the autostradas are nice and efficient.

I wish I had been able to stay longer, and the next visit to Italy will definitely have a few nights in Sicily.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:14 PM   #10
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Thanks for the posts so far guys, some very useful advice. I am flying into London then after spending New Years there am flying direct to Palermo. I was thinking about taking the train onwards from Palermo as opposed to renting a car...but after some of your posts I'm wondering if driving might be better to hit up some the smaller areas/towns. Anyone speak on that? Train (and/or bus) vs rental car?
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:46 PM   #11
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we did the train from Rome to Piazza de Armenia and I mostly remember never knowing what station I was at. They never made announcements. Car for the win.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kipperfan View Post
Thanks for the posts so far guys, some very useful advice. I am flying into London then after spending New Years there am flying direct to Palermo. I was thinking about taking the train onwards from Palermo as opposed to renting a car...but after some of your posts I'm wondering if driving might be better to hit up some the smaller areas/towns. Anyone speak on that? Train (and/or bus) vs rental car?
I haven't taken a train or bus very far in Italy, only driven a car. My in-laws took a bus from Rome to Cosenza and it was two hours late. That's all I've got. Italians aren't renowned for punctuality, which is part of the charm.

Driving is fun and pretty easy on the autostradas. Italy has a good driving culture, as you might expect. The cities are pretty chaotic but can also be fun, although at times it is a little stressful. And just watch for mopeds - they're everywhere and they'll sneak up on you in the cities and pass you wherever and whenever they feel like it.

On a different trip, I drove from Slovenia to Venice. Although it wasn't that far from the relative calm of Slovenia, it was hilarious pulling into Trieste and it was instantly back to Italian traffic rules. Cars all over the place, mopeds weaving in and out, very loosely obeyed lanes, signs, and signals. Loads of fun though.

Italians are also known for their periodic strikes for one reason or another, and although the odds are remote, it could have an impact on the timeliness of your train or bus. In Venice, for example, the vaporettos (water taxis) decided to partially strike for a day when we were there. Never did figure out why, but the locals just took it in stride.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:08 AM   #13
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One of my favourite places I have ever been is the Aoelian Islands just north of Sicily. You can take a ferry from Milazzo. We stayed in Lipari. They are volcanos at various stages of activity. You can bathe in a volcanic mud bath on Vulcano. You can take a night excursion by boat around Stromboli to see the volcanic eruption. If you have any interest in Geology, these places are vey cool. The beaches are covered in pumice. You can find huge bolders of obsidian and other volcanic rocks you could never find here. After our trip to Sicily, my wife and I wish we never left these islands.

Taormina is definately worth seeing. We stayed in Giardini Naxos which is just down the hill on the coast and close to Mt. Etna.

We flew into Catania from Rome, but stayed there as short a time as we could. We weren't feeling like battling a chaotic Sicilian city. We traveled by bus, train, train, taxi, ferry and taxi to Lipari. When we returned to the big island of Sicily, we rented a car and didn't have any problems. I would be very leary to drive in Palermo or Catania, though.

Syrcusa is not really that great. We went there, and I wouldn't recommend it. Their tourist facilities (hotels/restaurants) are pretty poor and the sites aren't really that great.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:12 AM   #14
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I know this will sound like an obvious and boring answer but Palermo has a team in the Serie A soccer league. If you are a sports fan I would recommend going to a game. The atmosphere is amazing ( haven't been to a game in Palermo but I mean Italy/Europe in general) and you should enjoy it even if you aren't a soccer fan.

Also, they don't have sbarros there so you will have to find a different pizza joint
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Old 12-13-2012, 03:50 PM   #15
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I've been to Calabria many times, staying in Capo Vaticano and Tropea. We once went on a day trip to Taormina - and it was absolutely stunning. Also it is not far from Mt Etna.

Next time I go back I would like to see more of Sicily. However if you have time, a trip across to Calabria is definitly worthwhile - wonderful coastline and I really enjoy the cuisine.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HockeyKhan View Post
I know this will sound like an obvious and boring answer but Palermo has a team in the Serie A soccer league. If you are a sports fan I would recommend going to a game. The atmosphere is amazing ( haven't been to a game in Palermo but I mean Italy/Europe in general) and you should enjoy it even if you aren't a soccer fan.

Also, they don't have sbarros there so you will have to find a different pizza joint
Funny you mention that, I am a soccer fan and already have my ticket to the Lazio v. Atalanta match on Jan 13th in Rome (my trip continues for another couple of weeks after leaving Sicily). I figured since I am only going to spend 8-9 days in Sicily it was best to take in a match after leaving. I've already spent alot of time in Rome (and most of Northern Italy as well) so my time there will be a tad less valuable.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:05 PM   #17
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Thanks again for the input everyone - I've been doing a ton of research thanks to your posts and will definitely be taking some of your recommendations.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:06 PM   #18
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Have fun!
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Old 01-26-2013, 06:05 PM   #19
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Inquiring minds want to know - how was your trip!?
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