Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017
On Tue, 11 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:
I first (and only) visited Sicily in 82 when I was working a year in
Well, as far as tourism is concerned when I was in Sicily I did it with
organized tours, except when I was there for work (but that was just in
Palermo and Catania, and Erice which is a conference place ... the
conference organizers, there and in Catania, took care of appropriate
I do not consider it a public transport friendly place. Recently a
disable friend (in wheelchair) wanted to spend a weekend in Palermo
(without hiring a car as sometimes the person who accompanies him does),
and I guess he missed some places like Monreale.
I scheduled a two week holiday which I spent in the very south of
Italy and on the Island - travelling by train.
You were very brave (*). The sicilian railways have poor fame (slow and
unfrequent), apparently the locals prefer buses.
(*) or are you a railway fan ? The actor Marco Paolini and the
journalist Paolo Rumiz did a full railway tour of Italy using only local
trains and starting just from Sicily if I remember well. The book is
called "L'Italia in seconda classe" (Italy in 2nd class, I do not know
if it was translated)
I'm sure that I missed some places. I remember that I got the train
to Enna, fully expecting that if the station wasn't in the town centre
(it isn't by about 5 km) there would be as bus as the had been at
*every* other random Italian town that I had visited. But there
wasn't and still isn't
I guess I'd never consider Enna as a destination worth visiting. I still
think the station is poorly connected. In the last years on a transport
forum we run a contest "virtual tour of Italy with public transport"
where we had to plan trips from place to place using information on web
sites, and for Enna almost every participant used buses.
Anyhow ... I'd never taken the ferry from Reggio Calabria to Messina,
though the sight of the strait should be nice, and I've never visited
Messina (which was destroyed in the quake of 1908), always skimmed
Anyhow there is a main railway line from Messina to Palermo but I am not
sure how comfortable it is for the main sights along the route.
Tindari has a shrine up on the hill (not of artistic or historic
interest) with a beautiful view on the dunes below.
Milazzo is the main port going to the Lipari islands, but I thin the
harbour and the station are not near (we came from Catania airport with
a van). The islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli are the
ones I visited, the others are farther) are definitely worth visiting.
Cefalu' has a nice norman cathedral, and possibly it is the best located
for what railways connections are concerned.
Bagheria near Palermo should host some nice villas, but I am not sure if
they are open for visits.
Palermo you possibly know and should be visitable within walking
distances or using urban buses. I guess they go even up to Monreale with
a VERY nice norman cathedral with mosaics.
AFAIK the railway connection to Palermo airport is closed for
refurbishment (I always used the frequent bus connection, when I went
there the railway link was not existing).
It should be a branch of a line going to Trapani and Castelvetrano.
In Trapani I visited only the Pepoli museum (we came down half a day
from Erice), but it should be the main port towards the Egadi islands
(where I've never been). Erice is up on the hill (sometimes in the fog)
and worth visiting (I do not know about connections, there used to be
even a funicolar, I always used the coach of the conference centre).
I've never visited Marsala, the saline (salt flats) and the western
The railway line to Castelvetrano (on the southern coast) should have a
stop near the Segesta temple (but I guess a fair walk). Was there with
tours both from Palermo and Erice. It is an unfinished doric temple
built by the Elimi, fully isolated (the theatre and other remains are
behind a hill, possibly the archeological site has a shuttle connecting
As far as I know there are no operating railways on the south-west coast
(near Selinunte temples, or Sciacca).
The main lines from Palermo to Agrigento and Catania go through the
interior (you know Enna), which I never visited.
The station in Agrigento is near the old centre, but the excellent
archeological site, as the name "Temple Valley" says, is down in the
I do not know about transport connections to Piazza Armerina, nor about
the distance to the roman Villa del Casale (which has an impressive
collection of floor mosaics).
Another main line goes from Messina to Catania and Siracusa. It stops at
Taormina (but the city is up on a hill) and Acireale. I guess not very
frequent (when we had a conference at Capo Mulini, I preferred to take
the tour to Etna rather than going myself by train to Siracusa).
Two things I never done in that area are the railways tour around Etna
with the Circumetnea railway, and the visit to the Alcantara gorges.
Siracusa has a nice archeological area. The Aretusa spring (a natural
swee****er spring with papyrus plants located just a few meters from the
sea) is just in the old centre of Ortigia. I never went to river Ciane
(which should be ... cyan), but I heard there are boat tours.
I also never was to Noto (baroque) in the interior, nor to the Pantalica
necropolis, nor to any of the other places in the south-east corners
like Ragusa or Modica (but I've eaten the Modica chocolate, which is an
experience ... produced with a "cold" technique just with cacao and
sugar, no milk at all).