My wife and I are planning a three week trip to Sicily. We have been to Europe many times but never Sicily. We will be renting a car. We would like to rent a vacation home for a week and make day trips from there. Then we want to move to another area for a week and do the same thing. We will spend a few days in Palermo to see the sights there. Where would you suggest we rent a property. We enjoy small relaxing romantic towns. We also want to visit as many must see places as possible.
WOW! Lucky you! I had the best trip of my life to Sicily. I was only on the East side, using Taormina as a home base and venturing out on day trips from there. We rented a lovely villa. I will need to private message that info because of restrictions on this website. I would love to spend an entire three weeks next time, because the Island is much bigger than we thought, and we only had time for the East. We have family in the North of Italy on the Adriatic side, and simply had to drag my husband to Sicily. He loved it! We have a military family and a number of them were statioined in Italy and recommended Taormina. It can get pretty touristy in the summer months, but we went in September and absolutely loved it and made some good friends.
Taormina is an excellent choice and if you go there you will understand why it is has a lot of tourists. It is beautiful. I would also suggest Siracusa as it is an interesting town and you are also within driving distance of many other must see towns. I think that I would just do two locations unless you want to go to the area around Palermo. Cefalu is very nice and I love Palermo itself, but if noise and confusion bother you, don't go. Palermo has three of the most interesting outdoor markets in Europe however.
I would choose 3 base locations. On the northeastern side I also recommend Taormina, or Giardini Naxos, on the beach next to Taormina. On the southeastern side I recommend Syracuse or thereabouts. In the area I stayed just outside Syracuse at an agriturismo (farmhouse) called "Masseria sul Mare" (google it, it's on the way to Avola). They have also their own beach. from there I day tripped to syracuse and also a bunch of other places (Noto, Pachino, Ragusa Capo Passero etc.) all the way to the southernmost tip of Sicily. If you want to see Caltagirone and Piazza Armerina you can either choose another base in the interior or day trip there from either Taormina or Syracuse (1 and 1/2 hr drive from either) On the western side, if you have a car I wouldn't stay in Palermo, or if you stay in Palermo, you should rent a car after you visit Palermo. the traffic is bad and a car is useless in the city. On the western side, I usually stay in a small village called Scopello (google it), west of Palermo. You can actually day trip to lots of places from there, all within one hour drive or less (incl. Palermo). I used Scopello as a base to visit Erice, Selinunte, Segesta, Marsala, Trapani, San Vito lo Capo, and the Zingaro Natural reserve (walking distance from scopello) where you'll enjoy sunbathing and swimming in a beautiful sea (rocky beaches). The town of Scopello is a typical sicilian small fishing village. It's probably smaller than a football field. Southern Sicily (Agrigento and Valley of the temples) is not easily reachable because it has only 2 lane highways going there. As such it doesn't make a good base. I would visit the Valley of the Temple on the way from one side of the island to the other (just stop for a few hours to see the Temples).
Thanks to all. Your replies have been very helpful. i now have great information to research...Boyd
Roberto is so right about a car in Palermo - friends and I rented a car last summer and we came to think of it as our second apartment (huge traffic jams on the main streets, parking a nightmare, lots of one-way streets). I like spending a couple of days in Agrigento; there's a beach nearby, the ruins and museum are extensive, and it's reasonably close to other ancient sites (Selinunte, for example). Cefalu is a great stop on the way from Palermo to Taormina (beautiful cathedral/mosaics, lovely old town, a huge rock if you want to hike, and a beach). If you get an early start, you can stop in Cefalu for a look around, a swim, lunch on the piazza, and then continue to Taormina. There are convenient parking garages at the edges of the old town and wonderful views. The beach there is rocky/pebbly. There are lots of accommodations available in Naxos as well, which is on the plain rather than on the hilltop, making getting in and out for daytrips a little easier. I also like Siracusa as a base. If you want to see as many places as possible, and you have a car, the Villa Romana di Casale is probably on your list already (Roman mosaics), and you can easily add a trip to Morgantina, a site currently being excavated but with several portions open to the public. The museum has the bigger-than-life sculpture of the Goddess of Morgantina, recently returned to Italy after her captivity in the Getty museum.