This past summer my mom and I spent a week in Sicily.  We got a good feel for the island but to really “see it all” you probably need two weeks.  Here are my impressions based on what we were able to do and see. 

Palermo:  My mom called Palermo the best smelling city and the world.  There were delicious food smells from early morning until late at night.  One full day is about right to see the sights of the city.  But if looking to explore other towns in the area Palermo is a great central location to explore.  Definitely make sure to stop at Cannoli & Co for gelato or cannoli’s. They have been open since 1024 for a reason.  We stopped every day!!  I also really enjoyed eating at Plaza Pretoria.  The food was great and you have an amazing view for people watching at the fountain.  I think we saw at least four different couples doing wedding photos!  The Theater is beautiful and does a one-hour tour.  Those that are Godfather fans will recognize it as a scene from the second movie.  Don’t forget to stop at Quattro Canti which is a beautiful intersection along the walking street.  But Palazzo Conte Federico and the Ballero Market were our two favorite stops!    

Valley of the Temples:  Valley of the Temples in Southern Sicily just outside Agrigento was an amazing day trip.  At one time, Agrigento was the 3rd largest city in Greece.  Its wealth can be seen still today by the number of temple ruins in the area.  We took the train from Palermo and I hired a guide in advance to take us through the site.  Organized day trips were crazy expensive but this both a cheaper and more fun option.  I highly recommend Michele who can be contacted at

Cefalu:  We debated staying in Cefalu or going as a day trip.  The town is charming and the beach was stunning (and packed) but it is not really a day trip kind of place.  There is not a lot “to do.” And so we were done exploring in a few hours.  I don’t think it’s a mandatory stop, but if you do, spend a night or two here to soak up the atmosphere. 

TaorminaBeautiful and delightful.  This was a stop on the old European “world tour” and it still holds that charm. You can easily see the city in one day but it is such a gorgeous piece of the world. We stayed several nights and did day trips from Taormina.  This worked for us but it should be noted that it is difficult to get from the train station to the old city.  You can either take the bus once an hour or take a taxi for 15E.  But there is not always a taxi available and it led to a little bit of stress.  Walking to the old town is not really an option (and this is coming from someone who was averaging 20 miles of walking a day at the time).  We stayed at Hotel Taodomus in the old city.  They have a great breakfast, friendly staff and an amazing roof top.

Syracuse:   Huge disappointment.  At one time this was the second largest city in Greece.  The old town has been revitalized.  It is the site of 425 BC battle in the Peloponnesian War…  I had high expectations …  We were there for 6 hours and it was too long.  The ancient Greek ruins are some of the worst I’ve ever seen and the site is disorganized and confusing.  And after Palermo, Cefalu and Taormina the old city was nothing special. 

I’d like to see more of the smaller inland towns.  And I’d like to see the Western Coast next trip. 

I didn’t realize you can take the train from Rome … but also cheap flights are offered several times a day to several cities on island. 

I enjoyed Sicily more than I expected.  I knew it had its own distinct culture from Italy but for some reason I was not expecting the cross cultural and historical links to Greece and North Africa.  The combination is very palpable and makes for a unique destination. 

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