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Sicily tour demands

This will be our first Rick Steve's tour. Two of the days in Sicily are described as strenuous. Can anyone describe what makes those days so strenuous?

Posted by
5528 posts

Strenuous = 2–8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs, and uneven terrain.

Wendy, I just checked the itinerary, and the only days described as strenuous were the day in Palermo and Monreale, and the day at Agrigento. I don't recall either of these days being difficult, but each does have a lot of walking. And the walking at Agrigento tends to be on uneven ground.

I've been on this tour twice, with two different itineraries. I think the visit to Erice was more "strenuous," at least in the way we usually use the term, than either of the two noted above, because the walks that day are pretty steep.

We figured out on another thread, pertaining to Village Italy, that the ratings have more to do with how much walking there will be, as opposed to how steep the walks will be.

Posted by
2901 posts

On my tour last November, a few folks - myself included - had some mobility issues. Let your tour guide know. At Monreale and in Ortigia she arranged taxis to take some of us from the bus parking area to our final destination. There is a bit of walking at Agrigento but it is at a leisurely pace. I was concerned about the “strenuous” part of the trip but my fears were unfounded. It was my 14th Rick Steves tour and possibly the best. Don’t miss it!

Posted by
383 posts

I think RS overstates the trip difficultly a bit. But not to much. If you are wondering if you can walk 4-8 miles a day up and down hill on bumpy roads and trails, then maybe that is something one should try out at home first.

Posted by
16890 posts

For many people, it's the standing for long stretches on stones and pavement that's tough. A city walking tour in Palermo is likely to last 3 hours. The Physical Demands notes specific to this tour are:

  • Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (possibly several blocks) and up stairways to reach your hotel, then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.

  • Be on your feet, walking and standing, for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.

  • Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.

  • After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

  • Scramble around ancient sites with rocky paths and slippery stairs.

Posted by
736 posts

It's the standing that get me. Guides should follow the 10-minute. No talks over ten minutes when everyone is standing in one spot. I start to tune out after ten minutes unless the guide is especially engaging.

Posted by
179 posts

What an excellent first RST for you and your party. It is now my favorite out of six taken, with an outside chance tour 7, Loire to the So of France, could rank just as high. While I think the assessment of what to me feels strenuous makes it hard to be helpful for how YOU will feel, it was my experience that my ability and seemingly every other tour member's was never overtaxed to any great degree on any day of this truly fantastic (the food and vino alone makes it incredibile!) tour. Weather will play a part in this and I traveled mid to late April 2017 which was considered an off-season version. Whether touring in the big cities of Palermo or Catania, or at the impressive Greek ruins and sites of Segesta and Agrigento, being prepared with decent footwear for lots of walking will quite literally be the first step in handling the miles with a smile on your face and joy in your heart. What I think makes for strenuous touring is not packing lightly and struggling/fumbling with your stuff in and off the tour bus and in, up/down and out of your accommodations. Keep in mind what it means and entails to packing up/moving on between the multiple stops on this tour and aim for making that process as simple and carefree as is humanly possible and I wager you will be very happy. If you haven't already, take a look through tour reviews found on this site in Our Tours: Italy: Best of Sicily; scroll through to get a sense of what people have rated and described their experiences to be. Have a great time, trip and travels; Sicilia is a wonder.


Posted by
996 posts

This will be our first Rick Steve's tour. Two of the days in Sicily are described as strenuous. Can anyone describe what makes those days so strenuous?

We did this tour in November of 2017. I went into it with a stress fracture. I knew up front that that would make this tour more challenging for me, but we had reservations and an anniversary to celebrate!

Even with a stress fracture, the most challenging thing for me was the pace of the walking from point A to point B. Our guide led us at a rapid clip which was what bothered me the most as I had to be careful about how to place my fractured foot on uneven surfaces.

Nevertheless, I made it. And I would encourage anyone to take this trip as Sicily is gorgeous. But you will want a really good pair of walking shoes, good socks, and possibly a few Band Aids (tm) for this adventure.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks to all who responded to my inquiry. Your messages have been most helpful.

Posted by
75 posts

Hi Wendy,
I think what makes Monreale strenuous is that you need to walk from the bus to the cathedral.

From the bus parking lot there is a staircase of uneven stones that you must climb. The staircase is wide so you will be able to stop,rest and catch your breath if necessary. Once you reach the top of the stairs there is a slight up-hill walk along a street lined with souvenir shops. That street leads to the piazza/cathedral. This area and the cathedral are all flat.

During the cathedral tour if you get tired there are plenty of seats along the wall of the cloister. You can sit and listen to the guide.

The walking tour of Palermo is right after the Monreale tour. You do get a lunch break so you can rest then. And if you are too tired to continue you can go to a café or return to the hotel. Everything is nearby.

Posted by
382 posts

A city walking tour in Palermo [or anywhere] is likely to last 3 hours.

In describing a walk's degree of difficulty, the time duration is a necessary but insufficient factor. Other factors to take into consideration:

  • Distance, and pace.
  • Elevation gain, number of stretches and distances.
  • Weather conditions.
  • Number of breaks.

Walking three hours, for ~5 level miles, in cool dry weather, with plenty of breaks can be a piece of cake for many. But it can become strenuous for some if the factors are less ideal.

Posted by
2788 posts

In my 14 RS tours, soon to be 16, I have seen "strenuous" listed numerous times but this 72 y/o semi-in-shape fellow has never had a problem in the walking-climbing-etc. The most tiring thing for me is long periods of standing in one place. I will be taking this Sicily tour in May for the first time and look forward to it after reading so many positive posts on this web site.

Posted by
83 posts

We are going on this tour in excited!
I am thinking the weather will be ok for capris but what type of shoes would be good for walking and look decent. Any suggestions?

Posted by
996 posts

I am thinking the weather will be ok for capris but what type of shoes would be good for walking and look decent. Any suggestions?

During the daytime walks and on transit days, wear the shoes that are THE MOST COMFORTABLE for you. If you want to take a better pair for dinners, that's your call. Otherwise, I'd go with the tennis shoes, exercise shoes, etc., that never give you blisters and always hold up your end. For me, that's a pair of Sketchers. YMMV.

Posted by
210 posts

My two "new" hips are a veteran of 10 tours. I did the Sicily tour prior to the replacements, but the tour has been tweaked since then.

As someone stated previously I feel the difficulty is overstated. Your choices during free time can ratchet up the difficulty if you choose. Sometimes I have opted for more challenges during free time...sometimes less. I will say that the Greece Tour has been the most demanding and closest to advertised, but I never opted out of any scheduled walks/activities. (Greece was great!).

If you think there might be some issues on a specific day, just be honest with yourself and/or take a couple of extra Tylenol (Just kidding). Talk to your guide about specifics. You can always opt out of the walk or activity.

Enjoy Sicily!

Posted by
458 posts

I did this tour in September 2015 and it was very, very hot - many days in the 90's. I'm from So Cal so it didn't bother me, but that might make it more strenuous than if you had cooler days. Hopefully you're going in the springtime.