Seeing (and eating through) Sicily
Holy cannoli! We spent 10 days driving all over the island to see all the beautiful sights, meet lots of friendly people, and indulge in amazing food.
We had 10 days to see Sicily and, while we bit off a lot, we decided we wanted to road trip across the whole island to see as much as we could see. For those that are interested in a similar plan, this post is for you!
Rent a car and drive yourself around - you’ll have much more freedom that way. The driving can be a little bit scary when in towns, but don't let that dissuade you. It's worth it!
We love driving and the drives between places were quite bearable given there were lots of stops that you could make and see sights. That said, if you don't like driving, we would suggest picking a few main spots and planning around that.
We decided not to book hotels in advance, because we wanted to leave the flexibility of skipping certain locations and/or staying longer in any spots we particularly loved. Would highly suggest that approach and there are lots of options if you go off peak season (which brings us to our next tip)
If you can, try not to go during peak summer. We went in late April and the weather was beautiful, hotels were abundant, and sights weren't too busy
Itinerary - There are many ways you could plan your time in Sicily, here is how we decided to – as a helpful starting point!
Day 1: Palermo - Erice - Trapani
Day 2: Trapani - Marsala - Agrigento
Day 3: Agrigento - Scicli - Modica - Ragusa
Day 4: Ragusa - Marzemami - Noto- Siracusa
Day 5: Siracusa - Mt Etna
Day 6: Mt Etna - Taormina
Day 7: Taormina - Milazzo - Sant Ambrogio - Cefalu
Day 8: Cefalu - Palermo
Day 9: Palermo - Zurich
Now for the real details!
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Where to stay?
Not too many to write home about, but book Bed and Breakfasts and go by reviews. Can't go wrong and very reasonable off peak
We did like the place in Agrigento - nothing fancy, but had a wonderful breakfast with a ricotta cup that we still think about. B&B I Segreti della Valle. It was very close to things as well, nice location
What to do?
Day 1: Fly into Palermo. Stop at Temple of Segesta. Go to Erice, Medieval Town. Drive to Trapani. Evening in Trapani
Day 2: Morning in Trapani. Stop at Salt Flats. Stop in Marsala. Stop in Scala dei Turchi. End in Agrigento. For the evening drive into the town of Agrigento and walk around.
Day 3: See Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples. We decided to park on far East side and take a taxi bus to the other side so we only had to walk one way. Stop in Scicli. Have amazing cannoli at Cannolia. Drive to Ragusa. If energy go to Modica that day. If not go next day. Modica has chocolate shop. Sunset in Ragusa
Day 4: Explore Ragusa. Skip the gardens. Drive to Marzemami (hadn't heard of this but amazing and cute little square with delicious fish). Drive to Noto and stop at a winery on the way (this area is what Nero d'Avola is named after). I was pregnant so we didn't stop at a tonne of wineries, but I would have done much more otherwise. Name of the winery Feudo Maccari. In Noto, hard to find parking - but cute town to walk around. Must go to cannoli and ice place, birth of cannoli. Finish in Siracusa. Evening out in Ortigia
Day 5: We skipped Catania given the busy itinerary, though you may want to stop there if you have any extra time. Head to Etna. Expensive, but worth it. We decided to do the gondola to the bus pass. Drive and stay around Etna. Make some stops that look fun. We stopped at a honey place called Oro d'Etna. Stayed at Agriturismo Tenuta San Michelle.
Day 6: Drive from the Mt Etna area to the Taormina area. We stayed outside, but close by to Taormina. Driving through and parking in Taormina is a bit treacherous, use the major parking lots. In Taormina, we saw the Castello di Mola, walked around generally, went to the Teatro Antico close to closing. Generally stopped into places that looked inviting. Stayed at B&B Villa Valentina Taormina (gorgeous oranges you could pick off their trees)
Day 7: Long drive day. Drove to Cefalu. Stopped when we wanted. We decided to stop in Milazzo and have a coffee. Visit small town of Sant Ambrogio. Try to do Olive Oil tasting if possible. Night out in Cefalu.
Day 8: Drive to Palermo. Have the day in Palermo. Walk around. We didn't get to the mafia tour, but this came recommended and we would have loved to do it.
Day 9: Have brunch in Palermo. Fly out. We had to fly out a bit early to get a cheaper flight and spent the evening in Zurich.
Where to eat / drink?
Have a cannoli a day! Ok may be not, but they are delicious here and would suggest having them. Our favorite was in Scicli at a place call Cannolia. We also really enjoyed a very unassuming shop in Trapani that doesn't even look to be open called Pasticceria La Rinascente. Also need to go to Noto, Caffe Sicilia, at the place with the birth of the cannoli.
Try the granita and brioche. A weirdo combination, but truly scrumptious. Best place is Noto.
Feels very Mediterranean, have all the fish you can
In the south portion, the ricotta snacks were delicious. Mention b&b that had it at breakfast
Book bed and breakfasts to get breakfast for free and focus on snacks and meals later in the day. Italians aren't much for brunch as it seems things start a bit late, but we did fine one good spot in Palermo called NonnAnge Bakery and Coffee
Plan to visit wineries in the Avola area.
While Marsala was fun, if you aren't into sweet wine you may not want to get too much of te wine there. That said, we had a great afternoon stop at a wine shop there called La Sirena Ubriaca. Very friendly store owner.
Would you recommend to your friend / family? Yes, definitely - there is something for everyone and dependent on the people we may suggest the same itinerary or picking 2-3 locations and optimizing for that.
Would you return? We think so, but probably not for a while as we felt like we got a good sense of the area throughout the 9 days.
Favorites to speak of:
Lodging: This trip we didn't really optimize for lodging as we wanted flexibility. That said, we really enjoyed our B&B outside of Taormina for the oranges and the B&B in Agrigento that gave us the ricotta for breakfast.
Activity: We weren't expecting too much from Mt Etna, but that was quite fun and a good break from lots of sightseeing centered around temples and such
Eating: The cannoli at Cannolia in Scicli, though I'm sure there are others just as good
Drinking: Lexi was pregnant so drinking was at a minimum, but I think Feudo Maccari winery and generally just checking out wineries in that Avola area is a must