Italy was since long on our to visit list and Berlin winter was best time to spend week in warmer and sunny Sicily. Below are our experiences from 7 days of stay in Sicily ( 20 Jan – 27 Jan 2018 ) from which you can take tips to make your visit memorable as well.

Sicily has got plenty of places to visit and spend a day to find out local culture, cuisine, people, language, markets etc

After staying in Germany for 4 years, we were expecting similar experiences in Italy but it was exactly opposite. Italy is more like India in terms of lack of disciplines of road traffic, cars not stopping at zebra crossing, majority of people’s laid back attitude and ofcourse government officials ( train station, bus stand, tourist info office ) attitude is exactly same as Indian government officials. But majority of Sicilians are good & kind people.  I feel because of these similarities between Indians & Italians, may be India’s late PM Rajiv Gandhi married to Italian lady Sonia Maino. Sicily doesn’t feel like other developed EU countries.

Sicily had got plenty of options to explore between historical places, architecture, beach, nature etc. Below was our itinerary which will help you as well

We had Catania as our base city and did day trips to various places. We stayed with airbnb service at local Italian family’s house and we had great experience. It’s always good to stay with some local family in particular place and find out nature of people in that region.

Mt. Etna
  • You can make your trip to this must visit Volcano mountain near to Catania memorable and economical in following ways
  • Take AST bus leaving at 8:15 AM ( AST bus stop is quite near to central station & city bus stop ). You can buy ticket on the bus as well.  Same bus returns at 16:30. There is no other public transport back to Catania. On the way up bus takes 30 minutes break for breakfast
  • Once you reach Refugio Sapenza ( 1910 m ) you need to get off the bus
  • Now is the important decision to make which are as below
  • 1.1 Take cable car upto ( 2500 m )      30 Euro
  • 1.2 Take cable car + Jeep / Bus upto  ( 2940 m ) .  30 + 25 Euro
  • You can not goto “live” craters as it’s too risky and 1 day is not enough for it. For this you need to stay at Refugio Sapenza & do many hours of rigorous trekking till top of mountain ( 3345 m )  with help of authorized guide only.
  • One can visit couple of dead creater either by trekking from 2500 m or directly to the that point with Jeep / Bus  ( 2940 m )
  • Trekking will be 500 m more but after 2600 m oxygen level decreases and you will get headache. It may take more than 3 hours to reach up.
  • We could only trek upto 2610 meters and got very bad headache, physically exhausted thus headed back
  • I’ll suggest do Jeep/ Bus trip till Torre del Filosofo creater, come back and again do trek at your leisure as it’s quite unique experience to view and feel the beauty of volcano mountain
  • Do carry enough water while trekking and you should not miss this unique experience even if you do it for few hundred meters from end of cable car stop.

 

Taormina
  • Best way to reach by bus from private companies as it’s faster & cheaper than train
  • You can’t buy ticket onboard but need to buy from the office which is around 200 m from private companies bus stop ( which is again 500 m walk from central station & city main bus station )

Syracuse
  • You can reach by private bus connecting directly from Catania with 1:30 hrs
  • We recommend to do hop-on hop-off bus to visit this small town
  • Not to be missed is Ortygia market where you can get dry fruits at cheap rate and you can bargain as well. Other places are Greek Theatre,  Ear of Dionysius
  • Che

Fontane Bianche
  • You need to first goto Syracuse and take another train to this beautiful beach
  • This is small but very beautiful beach to relax and enjoy the sunny day
  • When we reached almost half of the town bungalows were locked, I think people come there to stay only during summer time. Luckily we had enough food & water to survive whole day
  • The amazing thing in this town is plenty of street cats, we are used to street dogs in India but not cats
  • Every bungalow had orange tree & we plucked few from outside; they were really sweet

Palermo
  • You can reach by direct train in 3 hours from Catania Central to Palermo Central
  • This is capital of Sicily and must visit city
  • Take map from Tourist map to explore must visit in old part of city
  • As journey time was too much, it would have better to stay there for a night
  • Old part of city can be easily explored with walk or take 4 euro bus day pass
  • Don’t miss nice lunch at Caffe Del Kassaro and Ice cream sandwich & traditional Sicily cake at Antico Caffe Spinnato
  • Don’t miss Royal Palace & Palatine Chapel visits inside Piazza Del Parlamento, Street Market in Ballaro district
Acitrezza, Aci Castello, Acireale
  • We could only visit Acitrezza as public transport on the day of our visit ( Sunday ) was limited till that town.
  • Later we came to know about hop on – hop off bus in Catania which does city visit and above 3 beach town. We recommend to use this bus instead of inefficient public transport
Catania
  • You can explore old part of city by walk
  • Don’t miss Fish market near Palazzo degli Elefanti ( old city center ) note that it’s closed on Sunday,
  • Must visit – almost 100+ year old bakeries ( adjacent to each other ) located opposite to Villa Bellini garden
  • Do try all the unique sicily bakery items especially made of pistachio
  • Don’t miss pizza places near Villa Bellini park namely La Capannina, Settepiu
  • Near to old city center there is hidden roman / greek theatre which shouldn’t be missed as well
  • Do check tripadvisor to famous authentic Italian food restaurants, avoid once near to tourist spots as they are costly
Tips:
  • Public transport is not good, buses & trains run at irregular intervals
  • It’s best to rent car and explore places as it’ll save lot of your time
  • Avoid restaurants near to tourist places instead goto interior part of cities where you will find local population
  • You can do bargaining while purchasing good at local market
  • Only doing city visits can be boring, instead you should plan nature visits as well
  • Most of the cities has similar kind of churches, greek / roman theaters but nature ( beaches, landscapes east, center, west ) is quite unique & beautiful across Sicily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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