Sicily in late February early March seemed to offer a lot: some of the best archaeological sites in Europe, Mt Etna, pleasant warm weather, off-season prices and few tourists! I’d also heard that Seniors are well treated in Sicily getting discounts at historical sites. So did Sicily lived up to this billing?
Well the answer is a very definite ‘yes’ as you will discover as you read my Sicily Touring Holiday posts that follow shortly.
My stay in Sicily gave me nine full days to explore the island, travelling around in a clockwise direction – these will be covered in four separate postings, giving my highlights in each case and accommodation information.
- Palermo and North Coast – The capital and the attractive coastal city of Cefalù
- Mt Etna and East Coast – Including Taormina, Catania and Siracusa
- Central Region and Agrigento – Including Piazza Armerina and Villa del Casale
- Marsala, Erice and Segesta – Western Sicily including the salt-producing area near Marsala and Motya Island
I’ll start by giving some tips about travelling to Sicily and driving there.
Return flights with easyJet from Gatwick to Palermo cost about £100, much less than during the busy summer season. There are some good flight and accommodation deals with easyjet Holidays but I prefer the freedom of booking my own hotels. And remember mid-week travel can often be cheaper.
As mentioned in a previous post, seats are now allocated by easyJet when checking in on-line, see News Flash. However, although we arrived in good time for embarkation, we had to hand over our cabin baggage to be placed in the hold as “there is not enough room on the plane”. This was annoying because of the time taken to collect baggage on arrival and also because our cabin baggage had not been secured with locks. So you still need to arrive early at the boarding gate – a pity!
Car hire was arranged through Auto Europe and cost about £90 for 10 days – a good off-season price. The high spec diesel Peugeot 308 collected from Thrifty car hire was in good condition, something I realised over the next few days was unusual for Sicily. To avoid any excesses I took out insurance with carhireexcess.com for £20 for ten days, a saving on what AutoEurope or Thrifty offered and more ‘comprehensive’ cover.
Do bear in mind that driving in Sicily can be difficult, particularly in central Palermo where many streets are narrow, have double-parked cars and undisciplined drivers who do not take any notice of road signs! I left the hire car in the hotel garage for two nights in Palermo and enjoyed walking around the fairly compact city centre.
Driving in the countryside is generally quite relaxed except for hair-pin bends on the mountain slopes and flocks of sheep.
Altogether in nine days I drove about 750 miles with no problems. Most of the motorways are free of charge and relatively traffic free. So if you are a regular driver in the UK, don’t have any fears of driving in Sicily, but be ready for honking horns for not travelling as fast as the Sicilians!