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Please help with itinerary???

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Please help with itinerary???

Hi! We are going to be in Sicily for only a week in October. We are having a real problem narrowing down where to go and how to get there. We fly into Catania on a Wednesday at 12:30 pm and out of Palermo the following Wednesday at 5:25 pm. We travel a lot and tend to fill up our plans and then kind of play it by ear so we might not make a site because we are enjoying where we are. We do tend to get the most out of every day though.

What we are looking at right now is:

Wednesday afternoon looking around Catania

Thursday spending the day in Bronte

Friday some time in Taromina & Catania

Saturday leaving Catania for Agrigento then to Palermo

Sunday exploring Palermo

Monday taking a trip to Erice

Tuesday to Cefalu

Wednesday morning visit Monreale

Is this doable?

We really liked the looks of Noto, Modica, and Syracuse also. Would it be better to do one of them instead of the ones above?

We planned on staying in Catania and Palermo and making trips from there. Would it be better to do something else?

We are trying to decide about renting a car and driving from Catania to Agrigento to Palermo. I am very nervous about driving there. I have driven lots of places and am comfortable, but hate heights and have noticed lots of mountain roads. Are they really that bad on this route?

When you travel by bus what do you do with your luggage? I have heard and read so much about keeping hold of your luggage, but what do you do on trains and busses?

I know this is a lot of questions, but it seems the more we research the more there is to do and the less time we have.

Thank you for any help!!


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1. Re: Please help with itinerary???

I was just about to write up a bit of information for you & I noticed that you changed a few things around so here is the re edit. I was going to say that I am no expert but I do have past experiences to what you wish to achieve on your holidays. Firstly I see you won't be having a car in Catania which is not a bad idea as its probably easier to absorb the city on foot and local buses. I have never been to Bronte but I am assuming its near mount Etna? Is their a train station there?

I have noticed that you have decided to miss out on Taormina which is a shame as its a lovely place. Great tourist attraction. Friday in Catania -Sryacusa works. i am assuming you are picking up your car in Sryacusa?

I have briefly been to Noto & that region but was mostly resting on the beach though so can't really tell you anything else about the area. Agrigento is nice & works well with the connection to palermo. Don't know where you turn in Rental car though. I have never been to Monreale but I have been to Cefalu which you had on your early itinerary & its a lovely place.

Tuesday is doable but it could be a hectic day for you if I am honest. : ) I am assuming again your spending the night in palermo?

I must say that you may need another holiday when you get back to the states after the one in Sicily if you don't mind me saying so. Don't get me wrong I to like an adventure but!

October is a great time to go, still very Hot, Italian holiday season is over for them so lots of room to maneuver. Not sure about sunset etc.

On the roads on your travel you shall be fine just be a bit careful in Palermo they may have slightly different ideas to yours in Oklahoma.

I am surprised you didn't mention any beach resorts, do you prefer site seeing and historical attractions?

Hope that may have helped a little.

Edited: 01 April 2010, 16:05
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2. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Hi, ianc!

I am sorry it has taken me so long to post back, but we were travelling. now we are home so I can check the web a little more.

We get lots of relaxing in Oklahoma so when we travel we really fill up the time to see as much as we can. I have problems with the sun so the beach is out for me. We are both really into history and seeing as much of that as possible. That being said, if we find we are doing more than we want we sometimes will omit something planned. We tend to go from early morning until late night.

We were thinking about picking up the car at the Catania airport and driving from there. Would we be better picking it up in Syracusa? I was not sure about travelling on the busses with luggage. We will only have two carry ons since our flight has low baggage allowance.

Bronte is on the side of Mt Etna and there is a stop on the Circumventa Railway. There seem to be lots of trains each day so we plan on getting there early and then taking the train back as late as 20:00.

Taormina looks very interesting, but Syracusa and Noto seem to have much more in the way of old buildings, etc. and since we could do that on the drive to Agrigento it seemed to make more sense for us. What would we be missing in Taormina besides the beach?

We may leave Cefalu on our "possible list" if we decided not to do Monreale, but we were trying to make that a day to stay close to the hotel and wander. Monreale seems to be a suburb of Palermo and the Cathedral there is supposed to be a "not to be missed" site. What would you recommend not missing in Cefalu?

We are staying in Palermo from when we drop off the rental car until we fly out. The places we picked to go seem to be day trips from there.

We will "vacation" at home once we get back. We live on a lake where we are 1/2 mile from our nearest neighbor so lots of time to rest up there. We travel when we want something to do, which is several times a year.

From what I have read I am sure the italians drive very differently than they do in Oklahoma. Our biggest problem here is people driving 20 in a 70! Luckily I lived in New York for awhile and drove there. Also, I have driven in many places (including other countries) where driving is a challenge. I was concerned when I realized the only place our insurance did not cover was Italy! LOL We may try and return the car somewhere along the way that we can get a good bus or train connection to Palermo. Any suggestions?

Thank you so much for your help!!


PS--I thought I would post the updated itinerary here to make it easier for people reading this thread. Below find my updated message:

Hi! We have updated and changed our itinerary as we have found some things we would rather do. A little background, we are in our a couple late 40s who travel a lot, but have not been to Sicily before. We tend to cram our itinerary and most of the time get it all done, but also get sidetracked sometimes and just skip something. Right now we are looking at:

Day1 (Thursday)--Flight into Catania at 12:30. Explore the area.

Day 2 (Friday)--Catch an early train to Bronte. My husband's family is from here so we want to get as much time there as possible.

Day 3 (Saturday)--Explore Catania in the morning. Leave for Siracusa around 12. Spend the night in Ostigia and use the afternoon evening exploring.

Day 4 (Sunday)--Drive to Noto and do it in the morning. Use the afternoon time to drive to Modica. Explore Modica in the afternoon. Drive to Agrigento to spend the night. <We might spend some more time exploring Siracusa and less time in the other depending on what we see when we get there.>

Day 5 (Monday)--Explore Agriento. Leave in the afternoon and drive to Palermo. Turn in rental car. Where?

Day 6 (Tuesday)--Explore Palermo (Monreale?)

Day 7 (Wednesday)--Erice & Tripani (by bus?)

Day 8 (Thursday)--Spend the morning around Palermo or Monreale. Fly out of Palermo at 5:25.

Is this possible or too ambitious? We will be there in October. What are the hours of daylight that time of year. Are the roads we will be driving pretty easy? I have driven in large cities quite a bit, but have heard how hard Italy is to drive in so will be a little nervous. Also, I drove a stick for 15 years, but that was 10 years ago so I guess I will need to get some practice & I will be definitely getting the insurance!! LOL

Thanks for you help!!


Here & There
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3. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Ciao OklahomaCyndi,

Assuming you will hire a car?????

Take the bus from Catania’s airport to Catania and hire the car on your departure from the city.

You wouldn’t maximize your time by spending an entire day in Bronte, but since Bronte is your husband’s ancestral town, the Circumvesuviana would be an enjoyable day. But if you drove and didn’t base in Catania, you would be able to really explore this lovely area and its town – Consider basing outside Catania and hiring a car.

Why return to Catania? – Backtracking is a waste of time.

End in Palermo – From Agrigento, head to Selinunte, then Erice – See Segesta as well.

Base in Palermo (without a car) at the end and visit Monreale by bus. Take the bus to the airport for your departing flight.

It would be better use of time to spend a night (or two) in Taormina and also base in Siracusa with a visit to Noto – Even without a car, you might find Taormina and Siracusa more enjoyable than Catania. You’ll be staying in Palermo, so you could enjoy a big city experience in Palermo.

Avoid driving in large cities (Catania and Palermo) but driving in Sicily is not difficult. Luggage stores underneath in buses.

Remember that towns close for lunch for several hours, so if you were to arrive in a town mid-day, you wouldn’t maximize your time.

You could walk Ortigia at night, but if you really wanted to see all that Siracusa has to see, you would need more time during the day.

You will not really appreciate Modica on such a quick visit – Modica is a livable town where you would experience ‘real’ Sicily – Not to be rushed for a true experience.

Return the car at the airport in Palermo and take the bus to the city.

Check your other thread for hours of daylight!


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4. Re: Please help with itinerary???

I'm looking at a similar itinerary, trading out some of the places for visiting some islands. However, I will not be renting a car. My main question is, what do I do with my luggage? For instance, I would like to go from Palermo to Milazzo (is this do-able in a day, to then get out to the islands), but would love to stop in Cefalu. Once in Cefalu, what do we do with our suitcases? Do you think it's better to rent a car? I really prefer mass transit!

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5. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Ciao 2RomeSoon!

You would need to feel comfortable hiring a car - If you prefer mass transit, mass transit would be the correct choice for you.

The train stations in Palermo and Catania have left luggage storage.

There is no left luggage at the Cefalù train station, but you can leave your luggage at Cefalù's Tourist Information Office.

Luggage Storage for Stopover in Cefalu???:



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6. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Ciao Vagabonda,

We were planning on taking the train from Catania to Bronte because I was trying to avoid driving as much as possible, but if it works better I will do it. I know we have such a short time, but would like to make the most of it. We are not into ruins as much as some of the places that have been restored. I think Agrigento will probably be the most ruins we will want to see.

What do you think of the following:

Day1 (Thursday)--Flight into Catania at 12:30. Explore the area. <Paterno?>

What about renting a car when we get to the airport and spending the night in Paterno? It seems to be on the way to Bronte and looks interesting. There do not seem to be many hotels in Bronte and this would give us another town to see while skipping Catania altogether. How is the road to Bronte? I was not sure about driving in that area.

Day 2 (Friday)--Drive to Bronte. My husband's family is from here so we want to get as much time there as possible. Leave in the afternoon for Siracusa? Spend 2 nights in Ostigia.

Day 3 (Saturday)--Explore Siracusa.

Day 4 (Sunday)--Drive to Noto and do it in the morning. Drive to Agrigento to spend the night.

Day 5 (Monday)--Explore Agrigento. Leave in the afternoon and drive to Trapani <Spend the night?>

Day 6 (Tuesday)—Explore Erice by bus from Trapani. Drive to Palermo and turn the car in at the airport. <Stay 2 nights in Palermo>

Day 7 (Wednesday)—Explore Palermo and/or Monreale.

Day 8 (Thursday)--Spend the morning around Palermo or Monreale. Fly out of Palermo at 5:25.

Does this sound like a better choice, giving us more time in some of the smaller towns? Is it better to turn a car in in Trapani and take the bus/train to Palermo?

Thank you,


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7. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Ciao OklahomaCyndi,

When short on time, a car really affords the most flexibility.

With an arrival at 12.30, why not hire the car at Catania's airport and drive directly to Bronte so you can enjoy more time in your husband’s ancestral area? – The roads are not challenging around Etna’s base.


You might also consider an agriturismo around Etna.


Why spend the night in Trapani??? Parking is challenging in Trapani – Spend the night in Selinunte, around Menfi, or even Erice.

Return the car at the airport – You could then visit Segesta on the way to the airport.


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8. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Oh, you are most helpful! You have no idea how much I appreciate your quick and thorough responses!

I am not adverse to driving a car, I just have a couple of questions, since I've always used public transit when I travel:

1. I've heard that driving it isn't the big problem; it's finding somewhere to park it! True?

2. Is my luggage safe in a locked car (trunk, of course)?

3. What do I need to do to be able to drive in Sicily? I'm leaving in a little over a week. Perhaps I'm too late to get any special permits or anything?

Also, and this is a lot to cram into one post, but I'm panicking... Could you help me out with your suggestions?

Here is my "wish list". What would you modify and/or cut. I love both history and hiking, and enjoy local flavor. I do not need packaged or sanitized stops... I really love everything, except maybe really touristy expensive shops (but even those areas are fun for people watching). I enjoy snorkeling too (but not necessarily so for my husband). Since we're going in April, beaches may not be a real priority.

I have no concept of time needed to cover the ground. Ideally, I'd like to base in a several different areas throughout the trip. Where do you recommend? Believe it or not, here's a narrowed down list. I cut off the western parts from my original list. I put my "really want these" in capital letters. Remember, I'm not crazy, this is just everything I love, and I'm trying to narrow it down. The tickets are booked in for flying in and out of Palermo, since these are "free" flights for us from the US:

Fly into Palermo

PALERMO - Monreale - Cefalu (store luggage and explore) - Milazzo port for overnight on Volcano (hopefully)

Explore Volcano and hopefully one or two other AEOLIAN ISLANDS

Back to Milazzo, to head to Taormina - ETNA - Catania - SIRACUSA

On to Noto - Vendicari/Cala Mosche - Ragusa/Ibla - Piazza Armerina - VILLA ROMANA DEL CASALE - AGRIGENTO

Then Agrigento to LAMPEDUSA OR PANTELLERIA (I realize these may need to get cut. But thought an overnight ferry in lieu of hotel could maybe work)

Back to Agrigento, return to Palermo

At some point, take an overnight ferry to NAPLES (I have a friend who I should see there...) Do you know if the ferries have showers, etc.?

Note: I am trying to get info from the airline as to whether I can skip the flight from Palermo to Rome for a connection. My friend in Naples has offered to drive us up to Rome to meet our flight; this way we won't lose time backtracking to Palermo, and can spend more time with him, even if it's in a car.

Once again, my apologies for begging with such abandon, but I do really respect your input! Thanks in advance,

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9. Re: Please help with itinerary???

My pleasure 2RomeSoon – Auguri di Buona Pasque!!

Yes, parking can be difficult, but not always!!

If you decide to drive in Sicily, all you would require our US driver’s licence and an IDP – Here’s everything you would need to know about driving in Sicily!

Overall, driving in Sicily is not difficult.

Avoid driving in the larger cities – Palermo, Catania, and Messina. The airports in Catania and Palermo are located outside the cities.

Hire the smallest car that would best meet your needs – Small towns have narrow streets and it would be easier to park a smaller car.

Check your driving route on ViaMichelin.



The autostrada roads are good, fast, and reliable. Drivers are as aggressive as in other parts of Italy.

There have been some very informative threads about driving in Sicily.

driving in sicily:


Driving in Sicily:


Driving in Sicily:


Driving in Sicily:


\Driving in Sicily:


driving in Sicily:


Hiring a car frpm Palermo:


Trip Report 6-12 October - Greek History Focus:


What are driving conditions like in Sicily?


Driving in Italy:


Understanding Italian Road Signs:


You may find the Italy regional map for Sicily helpful. It has a 1:200.000 scale.


Italian law requires you to have an IDP (International Driving Permit) which is a translation of your licence. You will need your regular licence as well.

Are Int'l Drivers' Licenses now required in Italy:


International Driving Permit:


Now I know—IDP:


The “IDP” Question:


It is always risky leaving luggage in a car – ALWAYS!!

Leaving car with luggage at carpark at Valley of the Temples:


Take the bus from the airport in Palermo to Palermo.


Take the bus from Palermo to Monreale.



Take the train from Palermo to Cefalù – Hire the car in Cefalù, or even in Taormina.


La Bussola is very convenient in Milazzo.


If you were to hire the car prior to the Aeolians…..

parking at milazzo:


You have a busy ‘wish’ list – Skip Lampedusa and Pantelleria!! You would never be able to visit all this destinations without a car on a tight schedule!!

Naples/Salerno Area to Sicily Public Transportation Options:


Overnight ferry experience?:


Buona Fortuna!!


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10. Re: Please help with itinerary???

Ciao Vagabonda,

Thank you! We will definitely check out a agriturismo in the Bronte area. Now that we will have a car I think that is a great idea!!

We will also look at staying in or around Selinute. We were only looking at Trapani because we knew you could catch the bus from there to Erice.

Thank you so much for all of your help!!