From Naples I will catch a train to the city of Palermo on the island of Sicily. Sicily is a large island therefore I'll be planning on staying in two locations during my four day trip here. Palermo is on the west side of the island, while I'm here I'll see attractions that are relatively close and then I'll head out East, to find another Hotel and check out the sites on that side of the island.
In Palermo I'll check into the Hotel Vecchio Borgo. This hotel is highly rated, number 10 out of 96 Hotels in Palermo according to tripadvisor.com and is fairly reasonably priced. Reviewers say that the staff is pleasant and amenities good. Also the hotel is located at the three minutes walk from Palermo's main area for shopping.
Since I'll be arriving in Palermo in the late afternoon or early evening, my first day will consist mostly of checking into my hotel, finding a place to eat dinner and exploring my immediate surroundings. One of the sites my first day here I want to make sure to visit is Palazzo dei Normanni & Capella Palatina. The castle is considered on the the most amazing Aram-Norman structures there is and was constructed during the 12th century. The Capella Palatina also dates from around the same time and is one of the best known medieval monuments of Europe.
Palazzo dei Normanni
After I'm settled in I'll go eat at the nearby Ristorante La Scuderia. This restaurant is highly recommended by Frommers, saying that dedicated professionals run it and that it has a beautiful atmosphere surrounded by trees at the foot of Monte Pellegrino.
After dinner I will head to my hotel and call it a night.
On my first full day in Sicily I will arise and eat breakfast in the hotel. After breakfast I will head out and catch the hydrofoil out to the small island of Ustica off the coast of Palermo. This form or transformation is more expensive than the ferry but takes half the time, about just over an hour as opposed to an hour and a half. Taking a little trip will something to look forward to as I've been on land for most of this tour, it would be a good experience being out on the Mediterranean Sea and spending the day on this quaint little island.
This island was rated number 1 out of 101 Palermo attractions by tourists. The island is small so I can get everywhere I need to go by foot. When I first arrive there it will be about mid morning I think it would be fun to just stroll around the town and check out the shops and take in views of the bay, Baia Santa Maria.
I will eat lunch at restaurant named Schiticchio. This establishment is in the center of the village near the town hall. They prepare their food with the freshest ingredients on the island, their menu features seafood of course among other local dishes.
This modest establishment, near town hall in the center of Ustica village, offers a rustic decor, a staff that seems to try harder than average to please its patrons, and good homemade food prepared with the freshest ingredients on the island. Ask about the fresh fish of the day, which is often grilled to perfection. The pizza oven turns out succulent pies, and we delighted in a homemade pasta with a tangy pesto sauce.
Though there are other attractions on the island and it is difficult to choose which one to pursue what has peaked my interest is the Villaggio Preistorico which is a Bronze Age settlement. Excavation of this site began in 1989, the year I was born! This large prehistoric village dates from the 14th to the 13th century B.C. There are foundations of about 300 stone houses and the settlement boasted some of the strongest fortifications in Italy during any period. The site is always open and best of all it's free!
After I'm done with my blast from the past I will catch the hydrofoil back to Palermo. There I will eat at the Antica Focacceria San Francesco. This is a local favorite and has been a Palermo tradition since 1834. This restaurant's high ceiling along with its marble floors evoke the time when it was founded and the food has remained pretty consistent since.
After dinner I will head back to my hotel and rest up for my next big day.
On my second full day I will arise and eat breakfast in the hotel before checking out and heading South to Argigento. The train ride there is about two hours so I'll arrive mid-morning. Once I get there I'll check into my hotel, the Colleverde Park Hotel. The hotel is rated high in customer satisfaction and is a relatively good value at around 130$ a night. One reviewer writes that this four star hotel could be a five.
After checking into my hotel I'll eat lunch at Trattoria Concordia which is nearby. After my train ride I'll be looking for a convenient place to eat and this is in a great location.
After lunch I will head to the Valley of the Temples, which is rated on tripadvisor.com to be the top attraction in Agigento. This is a Unesco World heritage site and is one af the most important archaeological sites in Sicily. Here I can admire the Temples of Hera, Concordia, Heracles, Zeus, Castor,Pollux and Hephaistos.
After my tour I will eat dinner at the Spizzulio. This is rated #1 out of 17 restaurants in Agigento on tripadvisor.com. One reviewer writes that the food is excellent and innovative with a personal touch and that the attention from the chef/owner is excellent. Looks like a winner!
After dinner I will head back to the hotel for a good nights sleep so I'll be well rested for my aventures the following day.
On this day I will wake up, eat breakfast in the hotel and then check out and be on my way to Catania, on the Eastern coast of the island. I will take a bus, which will take a few hours and get there mid-morning. Once there I will check into the Borgo Verde Hotel.
Customers have written good reviews on this hotel, one said that it was green and quiet. Looks like this hotel is a great deal, at just under $100 a night.
Then I will grab a bite to eat at La Taverna del Grande Albero, which is highly rated, small and not too expensive.
After eating I will head to the the nearby Mt. Etna, which tripadvisor.com says is the number one attraction of Catania, and not only that but the most popular attraction of the entire island! Mt. Catania is a volcanoe, the tallest active volcanoe in all of Europe.
The tour I want to go on, the South side-Nicolosi tour which will bring me to the summit craters and Bove valley, runs a good five hours so this will occupy me for the rest of the day until I head back to the city for dinner.
After my volcanic adventure I will go back to the city and eat dinner at the Osteria Antica Marina, which is rated as the top restaurant in the city on tripadvisor.com. One reviewer raves that this is THE best restaurant in Catania, boasting not only excelled seafood but a friendly staff and great service.
After dinner I will head back to my hotel and hit the sack. I'm sure I'll sleep well after my hiking today at Mt. Etna.
On my last day on the island of Sicily I will wake up, eat breakfast, check out of my hotel and head to Siracusa to the South by bus which is a coastal city as all the other cities I have visited on the island have been. The ride will take a few hours and I will get there mid-morning.
The first thing I will do is hit up the Catacombs of St. John. These catacombs, which have long ago been looted by grave robbers so the some 20,000 early Christian tombs are empty. During Roman times Christians were not allowed to bury thier dead within city limits so they buried thier dead outside the bounderies of the city, underground. While Syracuse has other underground burial grounds, these are the only ones open to the public. The early Chrisitans venerated this spot as holy ground because St. Paul is said to have preached there. The basilica that was constructed there in the 6th century was destroyed and then later reconstructed in the 12th century and served as the Cathedral of Syracuse until it was destroyed by and earthquake in 1693. Another church was build on the spot but was later abandoned in the 17th century and destroyed in an earthquake in 1908.
After touring the catacombs I will eat lunch at Le Vin de L'assassin Bistrot. This restaurant features French and Mediterranean food and is rated very highly. One reviewer says that the prices are right and that they wish they had found this little gem of a restaurant earlier in thier three weeks stay in Syrcacuse.
After my meal I will head to the archaeological zone, Neapolis.
This includes a range of monuments in it's limits, including this Greek theater wich is one of the largest of it's kind and still in use today, during the summer months Greek plays are performed here.
After I'm done vising this site my Italian adventure will be concluded and I will catch my plane home.