February 26, 2008 12:14 PM   Subscribe

Spring break in Sicily. Where are some lesser known destinations that you found to be wonderful?

Besides all the big sights to see and beaches to hit, what are some amazing and not very well known (as in not in your average guide book) experiences and scenes that you really enjoyed during your time there?

The cheaper the better, and I speak enough Italian to hold myself in formal settings. I would prefer smaller and less touristy places, if possible.
posted by Kudos to Travel & Transportation around Italy (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Stromboli Island, the Ginostra side. There is a pensione, you can walk to the lava river if it is spewing. Or walk to the top of the volcano.
posted by francesca too at 12:39 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh gosh. Sicily is one of my most favorite places ever. As far as "off the beaten path", there is an awesome "American cowboy" restaurant in Enna (or there was in 2000). I'll look for the name in my old notebooks. Also there are beautiful rolling hills of wheat. Simple, yet amazing. Piazza Armerina is near there. REALLY REALLY amazing (though mosaics are one of my top 5 favorite things in the world). The interior of Sicily just blew my mind and was supercheap.

Also, though, Lipari (Aeolian Islands) is the most beautiful place I have ever ever ever been. Ever. Not sure how touristy it gets. Apparently the beaches are good there, but we didn't lay out. Rent a moped and ride around the island. Speechlessly beautiful.

YMMV, but Enna and Lipari made my entire trip to Italy worth it.

As far as judging the more touristy stuff, I loved Monreale in Palermo as well as all the other churches/cloisters there, and Agrigento was okay. Though it seemed like a place that you just go to in order to say that you've seen it. It wasn't particularly interesting to me. Same with Taormina.

If you like trains, I thought that taking the overnight train/ferry combo was a blast, but others probably think that it sucks. Nothing like going to bed with more train behind you and waking up as the last car.
posted by unknowncommand at 12:57 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hm, restaurant may be in Pergusa (right south of Enna), where there is also a lake that sometimes turns the color of blood (not recently though).
posted by unknowncommand at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2008

During my stay here i've done the whole "place that you just go to in order to say that you've seen it", thing, and thats not really for me. Pisa really didnt do much for me. Cinque Terra, on the other hand, was simply amazing... and it was by chance I ended up there. These are great, thank you!
posted by Kudos at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2008

I'm wrong again (it was almost a decade ago!). Salina is the island we mopedded. They filmed Il Postino there. We stayed here:
But don't go on a boat tour with Mario's "son".
posted by unknowncommand at 1:58 PM on February 26, 2008

posted by unknowncommand at 1:58 PM on February 26, 2008

I visited Noto - the "new" one, rebuilt after earthquake (Wikipedia). Fairly surreal. The sun set right down the main street. But it's not a hive of activity.
posted by londongeezer at 2:01 PM on February 26, 2008

Erice. Sciacca. Skip Taormina, head to Lettojanni. Have a wonderful time, I'm jealous. It's my favorite place in the whole wide world.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:24 PM on February 26, 2008

You're going to my favorite place in the world, too. Here are just a few suggestions.

Ragusa Ibla is very cool, and has great baroque architecture.

In Palermo, be sure to eat gelato at Da Ciccio, which is the best on Earth. It is on Corso Dei Mille near the train station, between Via Lincoln and Via Paolo Balsamo.

Also in Palermo, go to the top of Monte Pellegrino, and check out the views from here. You can get there by car or by bus.

If you have a car, drive to il Tempio di Segesta at night, when you'll be the only one there and it is simply breathtaking. Also, if you have a car, just drive, drive, drive, and drive fast. Driving really, really fast in Sicily is one of the greatest experiences of my life. Just don't crash.

And if you can get to the far western end of the island by Trapani, the hilltop town of Erice is amazing. It's like Enna, but smaller and by the sea. Just doing a Flickr search for Erice should sell you on the place.

I agree with unknowncommand about Enna -- it is very, very cool.

In Catania, there is a pair of Greek ampitheatres that is built into some old buildings just off of Via Vittorio Emanuele, up the hill from Piazza Duomo just a few blocks. You cannot see it unless you walk into the alley between the buildings. here it is on a map. There is also a bit of underground ampitheatre that is exposed in Piazza Stesicoro, right here.

If you're a literary type, you might enjoy seeing Pirandello's birthplace, which is just outside Agrigento. FWIW, I loved it.
posted by The World Famous at 2:33 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Aeolian Islands are amazing - well worth the hydrofoil ride. Rent a scooter and tour the islands. Stromboli is continuously active - you can watch it erupt at night from a boat off the black sand beach. On Vulcano you can climb to the top and look down into the crater. Lipari is gorgeous.

I go every few years and I'm still jealous that you get to go NOW.
posted by mamessner at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I spent a summer in Sicily a few years ago (as a writer for Let's Go, actually), and had a phenomenal time there. Such a magical place.

One place I would highly recommend is the island of Pantelleria-- about halfway between Sicily and Tunisia (you take the ferry from Trapani). It is much bigger than any of the Aeolians (about 40km around), and much less crowded. Perfect place to rent a scooter and bike around the isolated island, enjoying the striking black volcanic rock formations, the panoramic views (from the highest point on the island you can see all the way to Tunisia), and the unique culture (officially Italian, but with strong north African influences).

Other highlights: Stromboli is definitely amazing-- the hike at night (as far as they'll let you go) is well worth it. Piazza Armerina has world-famous mosaics, in remarkable condition. The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is a bit touristy, but still very worth the trip; or, you can see a similar (but more isolated) Greek temple at Segesta (near Trapani). Erice was magical-- truly a city in the clouds. If you want beaches, I really enjoyed Cefalu... not the most unique place in the world, but still an excellent place to unwind for a day or two (and it's where they filmed Cinema Paradiso!). The gilded mosaics and cloisters of Monreale, in the hills above Palermo, are breathtaking.

I have many, many other suggestions as well. I've been pretty much everywhere on the island (and to all the surrounding areas), so if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a note (contact info is in my profile).

Best of luck... you're going to have a wonderful trip. I'm getting very nostalgic just writing this!
posted by stilly at 3:49 PM on February 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ditto Cefalu. We have a house about a 30-minute train ride from there, and it's where we go to the beach regularly.
posted by mamessner at 4:13 PM on February 26, 2008

Villa Palagonia in Bagheria, Noto, an atmospheric night market in Palermo whose name I cannot recall and an astonishing medieval fresco The Triumph of Death in the Regional Art Gallery, Via Alloro 4, Palermo.
posted by Dr.Pill at 6:09 PM on February 26, 2008

« Older Switching to Mac... for the second time.   |   How to make my car alarm stop? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.