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A report from Andalucia, July 2017



 
 
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  #11  
Old July 12th, 2017, 02:13 PM posted to rec.travel.europe
tim...[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 44
Default Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017



"Giovanni Drogo" wrote in message
news:[email protected] ynzoengr.vans.vg...
On Tue, 11 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:

I first (and only) visited Sicily in 82 when I was working a year in
Italy


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
tours)

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 ?


I was 24, "poor" and with zero experience of driving on the wrong side of
the road, and IME (as a pedestrian) Italy is not the best choice of county
to change that - I have still never driven there.

thanks



  #12  
Old July 12th, 2017, 03:40 PM posted to rec.travel.europe
tim...[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 44
Default Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017



"Giovanni Drogo" wrote in message
news:[email protected] ynzoengr.vans.vg...
On Tue, 11 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:

I first (and only) visited Sicily in 82 when I was working a year in
Italy


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
tours)

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 around
it.

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


there's bound to be a bus, surely

here you go:

http://lanostramilazzo.altervista.or...%202017%20.pdf


a van). The islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli are the ones
I visited, the others are farther) are definitely worth visiting.


I hadn't really considered visiting the Islands

The ferries don't seem to be overly helpful when visiting for a day trip,
but accommodation on the islands is so limited that you really have plan
ahead to get it right

spending 3 or 4 days on these islands definitely works against touring by
car


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.


Solunto?


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.


seems to be bus 389

http://amat.pa.it/immagini/mappa_agg_2016_04_01.pdf

(what a rubbish map that is - unreadable "normal" sized, out of focus zoomed
in)

And don't get me started on maps that are orientated the wrong way round

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).


since 29th June 2015 - haven't they finished it yet - it's only a few Km
that is being upgraded

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 coast.


didn't know of the salt flats

The railway line to Castelvetrano (on the southern coast) should have a
stop near the Segesta temple (but I guess a fair walk).


would that be the stop called Segesta tempio?

Google isn't showing the intermediate stops on this line, though it is
showing the times of 4 or 5 trains from Alcamo Diramazione to Trapani, so I
guess the line's still open - (in 82 there was 11 trains a day)

Oh, looking on DB I see that all the Trapani services are via Castelvetrano,
so the direct line's not still open

No sign of any buses either

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
them.

As far as I know there are no operating railways on the south-west coast
(near Selinunte temples,


that's in a town, there's bound to be a bus (presumably from Campobello di
Mazara)

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
valley.


I caught the bus

the site is so big it looks walkable, but after about 15 minutes of not
being significantly nearer I gave up and waited at the next bus stop

I wouldn't even consider walking now.

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)


I stayed in the cheep and awful hotel opposite the station

and walked up the hill more than once

but isn't there a cable car or something now?

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.


don't you just hate the way that Americans pronounce this town's name :-)

tim



  #13  
Old July 12th, 2017, 03:55 PM posted to rec.travel.europe
Ken Blake[_3_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 7
Default A report from Andalucia, July 2017

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:23:59 +0100, "tim..."
wrote:



"Ken Blake" wrote in message
.. .
On Tue, 11 Jul 2017 20:35:25 +0100, "tim..."
wrote:



"Martin" wrote in message
news On Tue, 11 Jul 2017 10:42:36 +0100, "tim..."
wrote:



"Surreyman" wrote in message
...
On Monday, July 10, 2017 at 9:27:50 PM UTC+1, Ken Blake wrote:
On Mon, 10 Jul 2017 12:46:56 -0700, poldy wrote:

When I think of Andalucia, I remember the story about the Puerto del
Suspiro del Moro, the way the sultan left Granada after being kicked
out.

Then of course there's the Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice.

Different kind of sigh but interesting that two different places
evoked
similar responses.


A pretty similar kind of sigh. The Ponte dei Sospiri is a bridge
connecting the Palazzo Dogale with the prison cells. It's not called
the "bridge of sighs" because of any sighs of people sighing when
looking at it from the outside.It has a small window in it, and
prisoners were said to sigh as they crossed the bridge, looked out
the
window, and saw their last glimpse of daylight before being locked
up.

"Vikings who later settle in the area, selling cheese"?
Well, that really enhances our historical knowledge of the del Sol.
I agree, though, that sadly this group has largely lapsed.
We've just returned from a fascinating first amble around Sicily, but
I
doubt if anyone is interested .............. ?

yes please :-)

Me too!

to be clear that I'm not just asking in order to keep the group alive ....

I first (and only) visited Sicily in 82 when I was working a year in Italy

This was pre internet, without a guide book, flying by the seat of my
pants
stuff

I knew a few places that I had to go to: Mt Etna, Agrigento, Palermo etc

I scheduled a two week holiday which I spent in the very south of Italy
and
on the Island - travelling by train. It was November BTW, glorious
weather
all week, though it did **** down the previous week when I had been in
Naples :-(

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
(actually I found a web site that says that there us, but there are no bus
stops on street view!) - and there isn't even a sign of a taxi rank,
though
no doubt there's now a phone number on the wall that you can ring with
your
mobile - something that I, of course, didn't have in 82.

Now, with 35 years of traveling experience behind me, I think I should go
back and fill in the gaps.

I'm minded to hire a car, but I am concerned by the overly cheap prices
that
are charged and whether it is possible to avoid all the scams that you
read
of to bump up the costs when you get there.

Or I can again go by train (and bus) though this time using the internet
to
plan properly.

Or I could see if I can add on some organised day trips from hotels in the
mains towns - I don't rate that option much, but sometimes it works.

or there is this:

http://www.secretitalia.it/tours/sic...lendours-tour/

but plus flights (and therefore no obligation on the tour company to help
you if the flights are late/cancelled) the price is just silly

So am generally interested in how you travelled around and any out of the
ordinary places that you visited.




Places: Palermo, Monreale, Segesta, Erice, Agrigento, Selinunte,
Siracusa, Taormina.

I've always rented a car when I went to Sicily, and that's what I
recommend.


and what should one pay for this.



I have no idea. It was many years ago that I last did it.


I have just one other recommendation. If you are going to be in
Naples,


why would I be in Naples on this trip?



I have no idea. Note that I said "if."

But even if you were someplace like Rome, you might want to take a
train to Naples to catch the ferry.


I shall be flying from London



OK.


I was only in Naples the previous time because I got the overnight train
from Milan,

instead of taking a train to Sicily, you might want to take
the overnight ferry to Palermo or Catania, and then return to the
mainland from the other. I haven't checked the prices recently, but
the last time I went, the cost was about the same as staying in a
hotel, which means that it costs nothing extra for that night. And
since you will be asleep for most of the trip, it doesn't take any
time out of your overall trip, the way a train would.


is there no longer a night train for that journey?




Can you sleep on overnight trains? Fine, if you can. But I can't. I
find sleeping in a seat uncomfortable, and besides, I worry about
thievery if I'm asleep.
  #14  
Old July 13th, 2017, 12:49 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
Jack Campin
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 135
Default A report from Andalucia, July 2017

Can you sleep on overnight trains? Fine, if you can. But I can't. I
find sleeping in a seat uncomfortable, and besides, I worry about
thievery if I'm asleep.


I can usually sleep on anything with wheels. And the night sleeper
train from Budapest to Romania was the most comfortable I've ever
used. But I got one of my worst nights sleep ever on it - partly
the immense fuss about the border control, but more because the guy
I was sharing a compartment with was chain-slugging Red Bull and
arranging amphetamine deals on his mobile all night.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
e m a i l : j a c k @ c a m p i n . m e . u k
Jack Campin, 11 Third Street, Newtongrange, Midlothian EH22 4PU, Scotland
mobile 07895 860 060 http://www.campin.me.uk Twitter: JackCampin
  #15  
Old July 13th, 2017, 08:22 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
tim...[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 44
Default A report from Andalucia, July 2017



"Ken Blake" wrote in message
...
On Wed, 12 Jul 2017 09:23:59 +0100, "tim..."
wrote:





Can you sleep on overnight trains?


not in a seat

but passably in whatever passes for beds on current services

you have to pay more for that, of course, but no more than the ferry costs.



  #16  
Old July 13th, 2017, 08:24 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
tim...[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 44
Default A report from Andalucia, July 2017



"Surreyman" wrote in message
...
Well, it's the long version or the short version! We'll keep to the latter
pro tem.

Our normal travelling is usually very much DIY. So, based in the east in
Taormina, we had sketched out two weeks in May of moving around most
sights in the island.
However - thank you travel industry - we were advised with far too little
notice that G7, of which we'd never heard, was causing a lockdown and
cancellation of all hotel reservations in Taormina for the duration.

We wanted to stay with the hotel carefully chosen (within all this was a
family celebration) so we ended up in Taormina a month late, and in
uncustomary heat and humidity (even for Sicily!) that foreshortened too
much activity.
So we stayed centred in the east, cut our various overnighting stays
planned in the west and, in the reduced 'charging around' time relied on
conducted tours more than we usually would.

Here's a precis of some notes I sent to a friend who's also shortly
visiting for the first time.

Aeolian islands: Beautiful. Get cruises for the day from the port near
Messina. Do include the version that stands off at sea in the dark of the
evening so that you can watch Stromboli erupting - we saw 4 good
bangs/flames within 45 minutes. Great stuff!

Etna: Can't be missed - we were very lucky and apart from heat haze had
exceptional views. Depending on your preference you can stop at the end of
the road access (with views up towards the main craters, plus small old
craters nearby to look at), or go on the cable car rather higher, and then
take 'jeep coaches' higher still, and then move as high as the guides will
let you trek depending on volcanic action. Your choice! We saw copious
smoke action from two top craters plus some black ash eruption. Marvellous
day!

Syracuse: Its history is rather more interesting than what is left (!)
but nevertheless well worth walking around if you have spare time. Good
stuff from ancient Greek to Roman/Byzantine/Norman and later, but
relatively sparse. A half-day conducted walk would ensure you saw the
highlights.

Taormina: Our base, which proved exceptionally good for that, and very
attractively sited below Etna. It appears on numerous excursions from
other parts of Sicily, but I wouldn't have thought it was worth any
significant diversion by travellers unless close anyway, but it's
certainly very pleasant, with several good mediaeval piazzas.



All the above using locally arranged day trips?



  #17  
Old July 13th, 2017, 09:09 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
Giovanni Drogo
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Posts: 811
Default Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:

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 ?


I was 24, "poor" and with zero experience of driving on the wrong side
of the road, and IME (as a pedestrian) Italy is not the best choice of
county to change that - I have still never driven there.


So more or less my age. When I just graduated I went to my first
conference (in Cape Sounion) with train Milan-Ancona, ferry to Patras
and bus to Athens.

Actually I don't drive anywhere (don't have a driving license), I have
travelled a lot by public transport anywhere north of the Alps
(northernmost spots Narvik and Inverness), and in Lombardy, Marche,
Tuscany (even when planning implied to go the bus station and looking up
the timetable).

I may be biased in not considering Sicily a public transport friendly
area. After all, in the Montalbano stories, Livia often gets to Vigata
by bus when he forgets to pick her up at the airport :-)
  #18  
Old July 13th, 2017, 10:07 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
Giovanni Drogo
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 811
Default Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017

On Wed, 12 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:

a van). The islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli are the ones
I visited, the others are farther) are definitely worth visiting.


I hadn't really considered visiting the Islands


The ferries don't seem to be overly helpful when visiting for a day
trip, but accommodation on the islands is so limited that you really
have plan ahead to get it right


spending 3 or 4 days on these islands definitely works against touring
by car


You won't need a car except perhaps on Lipari which is a bit large to be
walkable (some 6 km across and hilly), if you want to collect pumice and
obsidian.

Actually there are no cars at all at Panarea (we walked from the harbour
to the archeological site), and I'm not sure about Stromboli (the two
inhabited points should not be connected by road). Even Vulcano should
be walkable.

As far as I know the boat and hydrofoil service should be acceptable.
Problem can be rough weather. We were in an organized tour with a small
group. We went by van from Catania airport to Milazzo (getting an
impressive thunderstorm on the motorway just as we left the shade of
Etna), and found all boats were cancelled. Our guide found an hotel at
Capo d'Orlando, and found that the morning after there was a boat from
there to Vulcano and Lipari (Italian Touring Club guides usually have a
budget to cater for situations like these).

We did a day trip to Vulcano by regular service boat (it's just across
the strait), and another to Panarea, and Stromboli coming back in the
evening, but I guess this was a chartered boat (not just for our small
group, we weren't alone). It stopped off Panarea to let people have a
swim, and after dinner toured a bit around Stromboli to see
Strombolicchio and the Sciara (the incline where lava gets down into the
sea). We had a van to go round Lipari (not the one we left on the
mainland), and came back by hydrofoil.


And don't get me started on maps that are orientated the wrong way round


Don't tell me. I cannot stand the hybrid stuff ATM (the Milan transport
agency) has placed at tram stops. They are not linear line DIAGRAMS, and
they aren't regular maps, north up, but sort of Peutingerian maps, long
and thin, made cutting pieces of regular maps and joining them
"rectified" along the tram route.

I've never visited Marsala, the saline (salt flats) and the western
coast.


didn't know of the salt flats


Uh, actually I had to look up the word, so I may have got the wrong one.
We call them "saline" (plural, sing. "salina"). They are flat areas
where they let sea water in to evaporate, and then collect the salt.

The main ones still in use for commercial purpose should be in Puglia.
I guess the ones near Trapani are also still active, but part of them is
a museum/park. So for the smaller ones near Cervia (northern Adriatic),
which produce a particularly sweet salt (I am not sure if depends on the
concentration of which oligo-element). Some amateurs supporting the salt
museum in Cervia run "manually" a salina in the old way, and this salt
is for sale at the museum.

I heard there are also salt mines in some place in the interior of
Sicily (should date back to the "Messinian salinity crisis" when
Gibraltar strait closed and the Mediterranean evaporated)

The railway line to Castelvetrano (on the southern coast) should have a
stop near the Segesta temple (but I guess a fair walk).


would that be the stop called Segesta tempio?


the name makes sense, I cannot locate it on google maps. I'll try
openstreetmap (rather good at computing walking paths though
underestimates walking time) or openrailwaymap

hmm, according to openrailwaymap that's tagged "abandoned track", but
Calatafimi looks near, wikipedia lists Segesta Tempio as in use, but
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferrovia_Palermo-Trapani says "service
interrupted"

Hmm ... actually zooming in on openrailwampa one sees that the
"abandoned track" goes south through "Calatafimi-Segesta", but
Calatafimi station is on the east and Segesta Tempio to the north of the
archeological area ... but on the suspended service line ! :-(

Some other site quotes a "Tarantola Bus" company.

Oh, looking on DB I see that all the Trapani services are via
Castelvetrano, so the direct line's not still open


I tend also to use a DB site to get railway timetables across all
Europe, though one has to use the Trenitalia site to get tickets (but
that mainly for Le Frecce, "the arrows" i.e. the high speed trains,
which haven't got south of Naples), but I found instead useful this site
http://www.rfi.it/rfi.html (RFI is the owner of the infrastructure,
rails and station). If you click on "Quadri orario online" you can get a
pdf of the arrival and departure timetables of each individual stations,
exactly the ones present in the station.

http://www.viaggiatreno.it is instead the utility to get real time
situation of trains (both long distance, and by region). For Lombardy,
where Trenord runs regional train, the qeuivalent service is
http://www.my-link.it/mylink/
  #19  
Old July 13th, 2017, 11:57 AM posted to rec.travel.europe
tim...[_2_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 44
Default Sicily A report from Andalucia, July 2017



"Giovanni Drogo" wrote in message
news:[email protected] ynzoengr.vans.vg...
On Wed, 12 Jul 2017, tim... wrote:

a van). The islands (Vulcano, Lipari, Panarea and Stromboli are the
ones
I visited, the others are farther) are definitely worth visiting.


I hadn't really considered visiting the Islands


The ferries don't seem to be overly helpful when visiting for a day trip,
but accommodation on the islands is so limited that you really have plan
ahead to get it right


spending 3 or 4 days on these islands definitely works against touring by
car


You won't need a car except perhaps on Lipari which is a bit large to be
walkable (some 6 km across and hilly), if you want to collect pumice and
obsidian.


no I didn't mean taking the car to the Islands

I meant that having to leave the car on the dock side for 3 or 4 days
negates against the option of hiring it in the first place

that's 3/4 days you are paying for not using it.

Actually there are no cars at all at Panarea (we walked from the harbour
to the archeological site), and I'm not sure about Stromboli (the two
inhabited points should not be connected by road). Even Vulcano should be
walkable.

As far as I know the boat and hydrofoil service should be acceptable.
Problem can be rough weather. We were in an organized tour with a small
group. We went by van from Catania airport to Milazzo (getting an
impressive thunderstorm on the motorway just as we left the shade of
Etna), and found all boats were cancelled. Our guide found an hotel at
Capo d'Orlando, and found that the morning after there was a boat from
there to Vulcano and Lipari (Italian Touring Club guides usually have a
budget to cater for situations like these).

We did a day trip to Vulcano by regular service boat (it's just across the
strait), and another to Panarea, and Stromboli coming back in the evening,
but I guess this was a chartered boat (not just for our small group, we
weren't alone). It stopped off Panarea to let people have a swim, and
after dinner toured a bit around Stromboli to see Strombolicchio and the
Sciara (the incline where lava gets down into the sea). We had a van to go
round Lipari (not the one we left on the mainland), and came back by
hydrofoil.


And don't get me started on maps that are orientated the wrong way round


Don't tell me. I cannot stand the hybrid stuff ATM (the Milan transport
agency) has placed at tram stops. They are not linear line DIAGRAMS, and
they aren't regular maps, north up, but sort of Peutingerian maps, long
and thin, made cutting pieces of regular maps and joining them "rectified"
along the tram route.

I've never visited Marsala, the saline (salt flats) and the western
coast.


didn't know of the salt flats


Uh, actually I had to look up the word, so I may have got the wrong one.
We call them "saline" (plural, sing. "salina"). They are flat areas where
they let sea water in to evaporate, and then collect the salt.


I did wonder

salt pans is probably the correct terminology

salt flats are a natural phenomena, like the ones in Utah that are renowned
for testing race cars

more pristine ones that are easily visited can be found in Tunisia





  #20  
Old July 13th, 2017, 01:13 PM posted to rec.travel.europe
Surreyman[_3_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 297
Default A report from Andalucia, July 2017

On Thursday, July 13, 2017 at 8:24:54 AM UTC+1, tim... wrote:
"Surreyman" wrote in message
...
Well, it's the long version or the short version! We'll keep to the latter
pro tem.

Our normal travelling is usually very much DIY. So, based in the east in
Taormina, we had sketched out two weeks in May of moving around most
sights in the island.
However - thank you travel industry - we were advised with far too little
notice that G7, of which we'd never heard, was causing a lockdown and
cancellation of all hotel reservations in Taormina for the duration.

We wanted to stay with the hotel carefully chosen (within all this was a
family celebration) so we ended up in Taormina a month late, and in
uncustomary heat and humidity (even for Sicily!) that foreshortened too
much activity.
So we stayed centred in the east, cut our various overnighting stays
planned in the west and, in the reduced 'charging around' time relied on
conducted tours more than we usually would.

Here's a precis of some notes I sent to a friend who's also shortly
visiting for the first time.

Aeolian islands: Beautiful. Get cruises for the day from the port near
Messina. Do include the version that stands off at sea in the dark of the
evening so that you can watch Stromboli erupting - we saw 4 good
bangs/flames within 45 minutes. Great stuff!

Etna: Can't be missed - we were very lucky and apart from heat haze had
exceptional views. Depending on your preference you can stop at the end of
the road access (with views up towards the main craters, plus small old
craters nearby to look at), or go on the cable car rather higher, and then
take 'jeep coaches' higher still, and then move as high as the guides will
let you trek depending on volcanic action. Your choice! We saw copious
smoke action from two top craters plus some black ash eruption. Marvellous
day!

Syracuse: Its history is rather more interesting than what is left (!)
but nevertheless well worth walking around if you have spare time. Good
stuff from ancient Greek to Roman/Byzantine/Norman and later, but
relatively sparse. A half-day conducted walk would ensure you saw the
highlights.

Taormina: Our base, which proved exceptionally good for that, and very
attractively sited below Etna. It appears on numerous excursions from
other parts of Sicily, but I wouldn't have thought it was worth any
significant diversion by travellers unless close anyway, but it's
certainly very pleasant, with several good mediaeval piazzas.



All the above using locally arranged day trips?


Aeolians, Syracuse & Etna, yep.
All other Taormina area and hill villages under our own steam - buses, cars.
 




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