I'm trying to decide which tour to take in mid-September 2015 - the Best of Sicily or the Best of South Italy. My interests are the food and wine and going to "non-touristy" sites without so many people. (Yeah, I know the Amalfi Coast will be crowded but would love to see that area). I've traveled in Northern Italy 3 times and am looking for a change. Have you taken either or both of these tours? Thanks for your comments!
I had the same problem. I was determined to take the Sicily tour, and then I read the itinery for the South of Itatly Tour. I couldn't decide which one to take, so I posted an inquiry on this forum. Sadly, never got any response. So, my husband and I both agreed we would flip a coin and whichever "won" we would go on Sept. 2015 and we would take the other one the following year. We flipped the coin and South Italy won. We reserved our tour along with the Rome Tour.
A few years ago, I traveled independently to Sicily prior to meeting ETBD Best Of Rome tour at Christmas. I rented a car and basically followed the route of Rick's tour from Palermo (now the end of the tour) till I took the ferry to the mainland in Messina and drove up the coast to Rome with an overnight in Positano. I thought Sicily was fantastic. It is much different than the boot itself and has much to offer because of the mix of nationalities and cultures that make the island what it is today. From gritty Palermo to the ruins in Agrigento to Villa Romana del Casale in Piazza Amarina, it has so much to offer. The towns are small and interesting and gave a lot of local flavor.
It's a hard choice for you to make but I would love to visit Sicily again. I'd go in a heartbeat. Hmmm! Maybe late next year?
Assuming we both arrive and depart by air to maximize sightseeing, is five days enough for SIcily?
Any suggested itineraries?
I took the South Italy tour this year. You definitely get a lot of bang for your buck and are off the beaten path until you get down to the Amalfi Coast.
I've taken both tours, and both were excellent so I can't suggest one over the other. You'll get excellent food and wine on both, but in Sicily the food is a bit more "varied" given the various historical influences on the culture there. For example, one of the items served at our introductory dinner was Cous Cous.
and going to "non-touristy" sites without so many people.
IMO, you'll find tourists on both tours and there's no escaping that (sometimes a lot of tourists if the cruise ships are nearby). This will vary to some extent depending on the location, but places like Paestum, Alberobello and the Amalfi Coast (South Italy) and Taormina, Agrigento and Syracuse /Ortigia (Sicily) seemed to be very "busy" during my tours. There are times during the tours where it will just be your group and no other tourists, and some examples of that (assuming these are still included in the tours).....
- The slow food and wine tasting with a Somellier in Alberobello (South Italy)
- An incredible multi-course lunch at the farm of a Contessa (Sicily).
- The lunch and wine tasting at a winery on the slopes of Mt. Etna (Siciily).
- A tour with a local guide of the Sassi cave dwellings in Matera (South Italy. There may be a few other tourists there, but I don't remember any large groups being there at the same time as our tour.
If your budget will allow, take one next year and one the following year!
I absolutely agree with Ken in that it's hard to recommend one tour over the other. I have done both. I loved Sicily as a whole experience and (most) of the Southern Italy tour. While I really loved the first part of the tour, the smaller towns, and found Naples fascinating , I can't say I was bowled over by the Amalfi Coast. Really, really "glitzy" and full of those um....cruise ship people. Nothing wrong with that, just not for me-right now. The history, archaeology, the scenery and on my gosh....the food and wines on both tours-outstanding. I noticed this year the Sicily tour itinerary has been changed a bit. I would ( and probably will...) go back to Sicily in a heartbeat. As someone else suggested, if I were you, I'd save up and try to do both. Actually, some folks on our SI tour were connecting to the Sicily tour from Naples. Seemed fairly easy to do!
I took the Southern Italy AND Sicily tour years ago. It was one tour then and I loved it. I think I preferred the Sicily part of the tour.
Thanks for all the thoughts! I'm leaning toward Southern Italy in September since I could do the Sicily tour off-season or maybe in April (wildflowers??) the next year. Still open to change my mind :)
What a great plan! I would definitely recommend Sicily during the off season. I went in February and not only was the price more than right, there were no crowds to speak of and the weather was lovely. I took the So. Italy tour in September and it was still a little warmer than I like.
Oh, and in Sicily in February, there were actually quite a few flowers blooming and at one of the farms, we made our own juice from various ripe citrus fruits we picked from their trees.
I spent 2 weeks in Sicily, April-May, and the wild flowers were stupendous. The only heavy traffic was in the big cities (and not because of tourism) and I didn't encounter crowds anywhere. The only sites that had lots of people when I visited were the cathedral in Monreale and the Villa Romana, but neither was unpleasantly crowded.
Can you go any later than mid-September. My guess is that there would be considerably fewer tourists in October in South Italy . . . or anywhere else.
Thanks! Maybe I'll try for the last week in September for the Southern Italy tour. I actually like the hot weather, but a trade-off for less crowds is a good idea. Wildflowers in Sicily in April/May sound great. Thanks so much for giving me great ideas to think about.