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What to see before RS Sicily tour

Hello,
We are scheduled for the RS Sicily tour end of March. We arrive 2 days earlier but unfortunately the hotel where we start is already booked. Any other recommendations for hotels near ambasciatori hotel in Palermo?
Also, what is a must see before our tour starts? Thank you.
Valerie

Posted by
2190 posts

We are likely taking this tour in 2022, so I'm commenting as a reminder to follow this post.

Posted by
6524 posts

valerie, did you email the hotel directly, or are you just relying on their booking engine? The Ambasciatori told me they set aside a block of rooms for people on the RS tours who want to come early, and they show as unavailable through the booking site. They said they have a long working relationship with RS (there's one group leaving as a new one comes in) so they know what works.

In fact all the first stop hotels probably do this, at least the ones we've been in on, for our four tours, do.

Posted by
55 posts

Stan,
I did email them a few days ago and they don’t have any rooms available.. I asked them for recommendations and the hotels were very expensive and/ or not available for my dates.
I did book at Giorgio 1 using booking.com because it was not far from the starting hotel.
Also, how do you get from airport to hotel?

Posted by
389 posts

Rather than adding an extra day or two in Palermo, although you certainly could fill them no problem, you could spend a night or two in Cefalu. It's less than an hour by train away. Cefalu is a pleasant little beach town -- clean (a revelation coming from Palermo), mostly pedestrian and not too crazy, a beautiful cathedral (sort of like a mini Monreale), a pleasant old town and a few smaller sites worth seeing. There are a number of small B&Bs and a couple of larger hotels. Both are on top of the hill, overlooking the water, and about a 10 euro ride into town. We were looking for a few days of peace and quiet and it was just the ticket. It will be too cold to swim at the in-town beach, but walking along is a pleasant way to spend an hour.

If you decide to stay in Palermo, a taxi in to town is the easiest way, although a train runs once or twice an hour and a bus also runs. Both are less than half the cost of a taxi. Uber is non-existent in Sicily.

Posted by
55 posts

What a great idea wanderlust58!
I will definitely check out places in Cefalu. Thank you.

Posted by
7482 posts

I was surprised that the Palatine Chapel, the Cathedral, the Teatro Massimo, and the Norman Palace are not included in the tour, all significant sites in Palermo.

The ending of the movie Godfather III takes place in the Teatro Massimo, the largest Opera House in Italy..

Posted by
20831 posts

There's more to see in Palermo that the tour doesn't cover than in Cefalu, though the latter is definitely also a worthwhile destination. I'd prefer to spend all my nights in Palermo and daytrip to Cefalu so I'd be in a better position to use some of the pre-trip time in each city. Cefalu is on the opposite side of Palermo from the airport, so you'd waste considerable time by going there and then day-tripping to Palermo if you ran out of things to do in Cefalu on your first full day.

The train between Palermo and Cefalu takes a minimum of 42 minutes each way. It's not super-frequent; it's very roughly once an hour, but there's a morning gap between 10 and 11:35 AM in the Palermo-to-Cefalu direction and between 10:11 AM and 12:47 PM in the Cefalu-to-Palermo direction. I don't think you'd need to buy the train tickets in advance, though a few of the departures are InterCity trains with seat reservations, so I suppose those could theoretically fill up.

Posted by
4939 posts

There is a bus that runs regularly between the airport and the train station. The train station is a few blocks from the tour hotel. I know you're not booked there, but this should serve to orient you.

Also, ask the hotel to put you on a waiting list. We did that on one of our trips to Palermo, and indeed they emailed us when they had a cancellation. We love the Ambasciatori. The location is great, the staff are wonderful, and the rooftop terrace is super. Not to mention the bargain rates!

We've actually done this tour twice (with different itineraries), and went a couple of days early both times. We had no trouble filling the time!

Posted by
55 posts

Janis,
I enjoyed reading the journal by Priscilla and got wonderful info.

I am checking out everyone's suggestions
Thank you

Posted by
55 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. It is very helpful.
I knew that I would get informative ideas and suggestions from this site.

Posted by
3889 posts

If you decide on Cefalù, we stayed at Hotel Alberi del Paradiso. Its restaurant was very good as was the included breakfast buffet. It isn’t in the city center but had a free shuttle service to/from the town’s center. Walking from the hotel to the cathedral is just under a mile.

A few of the places we visited in Palermo included, Santa Caterina d'Alessandria, Fontana Pretoria, the cathedral, market, Piazza Quattro Canti, and Santa Maria dell'Ammiraglio. Rather than stay in Palermo we opted to stay at a B&B in Monreale and took the bus into Palermo.

Posted by
55 posts

Unfortunately, Hotel Alberi del Paradiso is not available for our dates. Thank you for your suggestion

Posted by
66 posts

Hi Valerie,

I pulled out my travel journal to get the particulars on our time in Palermo.

We took the Best of Sicily tour October 8-18, 2019, after the Best of South Italy. We stayed one day in Naples to tour Mt. Vesuvius and Herculaneum.

The morning of the 6th we flew to Palermo and checked into Hotel BB22 Palace. Our hotelier recommended Sardina PastaBar via Cassari 41-43 – 90133. For lunch, I ordered the paccheri pasta with swordfish and mussels served with wild fennel and fava beans macco. Dear husband tries the carob and whole wheat flour pappardelle pasta with pork ragout and a glass of red wine. Wow! Both were absolutely delicious. The flavors were intense but not overly so. For an after-dinner aperitif, I have an Amaro Averna Don Salvatore Riserva, a traditional Sicilian pomogranata, citrus and herb liqueur. After our late lunch we walked around the area of our hotel and down to the port.

October 7, 2019 – I have a macabre curiosity about crypts, so after breakfast we walked to the Capuchin Crypt where the bones of 4,000 are entombed. The crypt is divided by monks and other religious orders, men, babies, women, virgins, families, and professional persons wearing their finest clothing. No photos are allowed.

Teatro Massimo is next on our visit list. It is the third largest opera house in Europe. If you’ve watched the third Godfather movie, it is the steps of the opera house that has a dramatic scene near the end of the movie. We purchased tickets for an English tour. The guide leads us (in both Italian and English) through the Italian Art Nouveau (Liberty Style) interior beginning with the wooden model of the theater that won the architect the commission to build this theater. The theater can hold 4,000 people.

We hopped on the red line of the Hop On Hop Off tour to see the architecture of the city of Palermo. We ducked in Osteria Pantelleria restaurant for lunch to get out of the rain. The owners are Anna and Filippo. Lunch was fabulous. DH orders ‘filetto di vitello sciliano alla griglia con cipolia caramellata e bacon croccante’, grilled Sicilian veal fillet with caramelized onion and crispy bacon and I order ‘risotto al profumo di asparagi e gambero bianco locale’, asparagus-flavored risotto and local white shrimp. We share a chocolate mousse dessert and follow with Limoncello di Sicilia.

The morning of our tour, we visited the Salinas Regional Archeological Museum. They have Carthaginian artifacts. There are so few Carthaginian artifacts in the world as Rome decimated Carthage.

There is a lot to do in Palermo. We considered Cefalu, but decided to spend all our time in Palermo.

Posted by
21 posts

Hi Valerie. I think we are on same tour as you!
We arrive Palermo on 3/16. I’ll send you list of our “what to see/do” when I get home from work.

Posted by
4211 posts

We are visiting Sicily this spring and in Palermo we are staying at La Terraza sul centro. It’s from the RS guide and was quite reasonable. I’m excited for the roof top terrace.

Posted by
1735 posts

We’re on the Sicily tour beginning April 26th. The Ambascatori was fully booked for our tour as well.I’m guessing because they are running some of the Sicily tours so close together that we overlap if we want to come early. We are booked at the Delle Vittorie on the recommendation of previous posters. Flight prices meant that we are arriving 4 days early. I think we’ll add a food tour, a No Mafia tour and then I’m going to check out a museum on the Spanish Inquisition that I read about reviewing tour reports. We’re also planning to hit sites mentioned in this thread that are not included in the tour. Cefulu May be in there as well.

Posted by
18 posts

gtjackets8083

Do you know the address for the Hotel BBCC Palace?
I did not have any luck locating it.

Thanks!

Posted by
20831 posts

There's a privately-run tile museum in Palermo that's probably not covered by many guidebooks. I learned about it on TripAdvisor. It's very worthwhile for someone interested in ceramic tile. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday for limited afternoon hours; the last tour (required) is the one conducted in English. I don't know whether they are still doing this, but at the time of my 2015 visit I was invited to stay on after the tour ended and take photos.

Quite a few oratorios (chapels) scattered around Palermo are open to the public. Interior decor varies a lot, so you can see many oratorios before they become repetitive.

I found Saturday a bit iffy for visiting churches in Palermo; I kept encountering weddings and wasn't willing to sightsee during someone's private celebration. However, I was in Sicily during June; perhaps there aren't so many weddings in March.

Posted by
66 posts

The address for the BB22 Palace hotel in Palermo is:

BB22 Charming Rooms & Apartments Via Pantelleria, 22 (Corner Largo Cavalieri di Malta) 90133 PALERMO 4997 + XQ Palermo, PAOK OWN HOTEL

https://www.bb22.it/en/

Sorry, didn't catch the typo in my original post.