Do you prefer organized tours or would you rather choose your own itinerary and pace? There are definite advantages to both modes of travel, and I enjoy each. I’ve discovered that the key to maximizing pleasure is to understand exactly WHY you are taking the trip. Is your goal to see as many sights as possible? Or do you hanker for a slower pace, enjoying the companionship of a few close friends?
Lucky me—I’ve been able to do both types of trips to Sicily, so I can compare and contrast. You see, in 2017, my husband and I took an Overseas Adventure Trip (OAT), spending 16 days based in Palermo, Mazara, Piazza Armerina, Ragusa, and Catania.
Currently I’m traveling with three good friends, who planned everything, and are willing to do all the driving. Not surprisingly, this trip is far less structured than the OAT trip. Although we will be based in different cities: Ortigia, Modica, Enna, Palermo and Taormina, we will be covering similar ground.
Our first two days were somewhat grueling, with an overnight flight to Rome, followed by an afternoon flight to Catania, and a 45 minute ride to our first hotel, Algila Ortigia Charme Hotel, our home for three nights.
They say you can’t get a bad meal in Italy. Well, Sally and I accomplished the impossible, with TWO bad meals—a dinner on our first night and lunch on the second. Breakfasts, on the other hand, were at the hotel and were fantastic!
We finally wised up and avoided the places around tourist attractions. All meals henceforth were at restaurants down little side streets and THAT is where the food exceeded expectations.
Also on Via Cavour was an abundance of little shops. We discovered Sebastian’s shop, in which he was selling various flavors of ‘cello. After sampling several, Diane and I, slightly drunk by then, purchased limoncello and almondcello.
Although we did see the normal Ortigia sites, over our three night stay, it was at a much slower pace than when Mike and I visited. For our OAT trip, we only spent a half a day in Ortigia, and saw the same attractions. Of course, we didn’t spend as much time being lost and confused, because we had a guide. We also didn’t sleep as late either.
I am grateful to Sally, Diane and Karen for including me on this trip—my first since Mike died. It is comforting to be among good friends while I process my loss.