Hello Everyone! Bon jornu!
I am starting planning our yearly trip to Europe. We take a trip once a year as a group (between 13-18 Japanese ladies aged 65-83!) and traveling by charter minibus/bus. We've done Czech Republic-Austria, Hungary-Romania, Spain breaking it into 2 trips Madrid-Barcelona and Andalusia, Russia, Armenia-Georgia, and Portugal last year. This year, I set my sights on Sicily!
We'll have 9 nights on the ground which will give us 8 full days for sightseeing. I am not counting the days we are flying to/from Sicily.
Seeing that the group is not young ) I don't like to switch hotels as much as it's possible. Ex. in Portugal we did 2 hotels (Porto and Lisbon) for 9 nights. For Sicily, I'd like to do 2 hotels (3 at the most). Checking with the airlines, it seems we can fly in and out of different airports (Palermo and Catania). The flights land around 22.30 / 23.00h. So there is no big difference which airport to start with in terms of arrival time. I cannot seem to make up my mind whether we should start in Palermo or leave it till the end of the trip. Or whether it makes any difference.
I realize that by limiting ourselves to 2 (or 3 hotels) only and because of the age of the group, we'll have to be selective in what we see and what areas we visit. We'll do one hotel in Palermo and one hotel near Catania (not sure what the best place would be yet).
We are interested in culture, art, history, food (so so much!!), wine, markets, shopping, natural beauty (but no adventures ). Not going to be doing too much outdoorsy stuff just because of the age gain--no swimming, snorkeling, climbing and such. That said, we love picnics, river/sea cruises, horse-carriage rides, etc.
Now I am thinking the end of September (from 20th on) till mid-October. I know you can never tell what the weather will be like, but as a general rule, I'd really like to avoid rainy weather because it's going to make it harder for older folks to walk. Since we are not interested in swimming, I'd rather visit when it's warm rather than hot.
Would you say mid-late September would be better than early-mid October?
Would you suggest starting in Palermo or on the other side of the island and working our way to Palermo?
Some of the places/activities I am thinking of including:
Agrigento's Valley of Temples,
Villa Romana del Casale in Enna
Taormina's Townscape and Greek Theater
Ragusa and Modica
Mount Etna (not sure whether we'd do a tour or just see from the distance)
Visit a winery preferably a small/family producer (tour + lunch)
Salt Pans of Trapani (possibly)
picnic (if possible)
cruise (if possible)
cooking lesson (if possible)
Palermo opera house (opera performance if possible)
I have a LOT of work ahead trying to figure everything out. I'd love to hear any advice or comments or recommendations!