We (husband and I) have a few days unaccounted for and am considering visiting Sicily for a day or 2...I am Sicilian and have never been there....We are spending most of our time along the Amalfi Coast (we love the water) and Rome. (2 week vacation)
Is visiting Sicily worth spending a day or 2? Are the rumors about Sicily being dangerous true?
Hi Adrienne, who in the world told you that Sicily is dangerous? I am living here since 10 years and it is a very peaceful place :-) Of course you shouldn't look too touristy in towns, but this rule is valid for every town on this planet. But let me answer your question: two days are not enough.... What to see? Depends on the airport you are landing. If at Palermo - just spend your few days there. The city is one of the most charming in the world (and I have been to many places). It is a giant open air museum, lots of great restaurants, old palazzos, gorgeous churches, piazzas and fountains everywhere. And some splendid beaches are also not far away, such as in Mondello. Visit one the street markets, which have not changed much in the last centuries. Don't go to Mercato Vucciria, it is far too touristic, go instead to the Capo II market. And look for an accommodation in the Kalsa district. If landing in Catania, you should accommodate in Taormina or Giardini-Naxos (depends on your budget) and dedicate one day or at least 3/4 of a day to Mount Etna. The rest of the time you can easily spend strolling around medieval Taormina. There is a cute little hotel called Villa Mora in Giardini-Naxos, about 30 m from the bay, one of the most beautiful bays in the whole Sicily with a panoramic view to Taormina and on clear days to the Italian mainland. If you opt for Hotel Villa Mora, say hello from me :-)
If you had a little more time I would consider a visit to Syracuse (only if landing in Catania). Staying in Catania you should not miss the 'Pescheria' in the morning, it is one the biggest and most beautiful fish-market in South-Italy.
To make your planning easier: don't underestimate the distances - Sicily is the biggest island in the Med. Concentrate on Palermo or Taormina or Syracuse.
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The Sicilians and safety:
We found Sicilians to be sweet, friendly and most welcoming people, like people from old times... not spoiled by modern cynicism. You'll feel much more 'at home' than in most other parts of Italy.
Safety: You have to be prepared for an alternative sense of safety. Like most of the times when you park, you'll be asked to pay, but never expect to receive a receipt: - "If I give you a receipt I'll have to pass the money to the government! Don't worry, it's okay!". And our car was ALWAYS safe.
Just to give you the picture, when in Trapani, we were asked to leave the keys of our rented car (with all our luggage...) with the local guys (and of course no receipt..). We were concerned at first, but to our surprise, one by one came the local people and left the keys of their cars before leaving with the train to their business, and eventually so did we.
We came back two hours later to find our car safely parked in the shade.
There wasn't even one young girl, that the young, good looking policeman standing next to our hotel in Catania missed winking to or whistle at when passing by...
At first it all was a culture shock, but then one gets to understand that this is the way things are over there...
We literally felt GOOD among these people (may be being Mediterranean myself helps...).
Places to go, things to do
Two days for Sicily is a really short time,,, You will have to decide whether you keep 'hopping' between the eastern coast - Catania to Trapani on the western coast and then Palermo, or just focus on one region and do it properly (which I'd suggest you do).
Since you'll most probably arrive through Messina, I'd suggest that you stick with the beautiful eastern coast. The sea panorama driving south from Messina gets real nice and dramatic around Acireale and Aci Castello. I suggest that you stay in Catania, the bigger city on the western coast. Do not miss the local fish market and of course the best cannoli in the whole world!
On the way to Catania plan to visit Taormina, a beautiful small, picturesque town. I hope you don't get there during high season when it's packed with tourists...
Further south plan to visit Syracuse with it's great atmosphere + it's archaeological sites, a beautiful treasure of temples, amphitheaters and an ancient castle, (And yes... Archimedes is from Syracuse, those ancient parts are indeed his playground).
I didn't even mention Mount Etna, although it's just the same, on the west coast of Sicily...
You will have to prepare your itinerary quite wisely, because there is quite a lot to see, and just two days is quite a tight time to squeeze all in.
Answer by Meir Jacob, founder of Trips for Photographers.
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