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Anyone been to Sicily?

14 replies

zebra · 28/07/2003 12:47

I'm being strong-armed into flying to Sicily end September/Early October, for just 4 days. I'm meeting up with my dad who likes to hang out in quality restaurants, museums, expensive hotels and historical places. I have two boisterous toddlers who of course, love to be well-behaved, quiet and reverential...NOT.

Just wondered if anyone else had been to Sicily, and what might be on offer for families? We would fly into Palermo, & are hoping to scamper around the foot of Mt. Etna (we are outdoorsy types). I am trying to find out about inexpensive YHA accomodation. It seems to be the most tourist-provided for place, but can't figure out why.

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Cracker · 28/07/2003 15:50

I have just come back from 2 weeks in Sicily with 2 young children. We also flew to Palermo and then took a train to a resort just 70kms from Palermo called Cefalu. The Sicilians were great with kids, they were welcome in restaurants, the food is fantastically child friendly (mine could eat spaghetti with tomato sauce and pizza 365 days a year), lovely beaches etc. The only drawback was that when it rained there really wasn't much to do with kids - everything was so beach or ancient ruin focussed. When we asked for suggestions on a rainy day with young kids one tour guide recommended we "drive to one of the villages and eat cheese!" Not exactly a highlight for a 4 and 2 year old!

Boat trips to the stunning Aeolian Islands were fantastic and kids got very excited about the fact they are all volcanic. We didn't go to Etna as you can't get near the top anymore but I gather it is great.

We stayed in cheap self catering flat found on the internet - it worked out well. I don't know about YHA stuff. Anyway hope this helps and have a good holiday.

zebra · 28/07/2003 16:49

Hey Cracker - How did you find the self-catering flat? Although people I'm meeting haven't yet tried to devise even the fuzziest itinerary.

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marialuisa · 28/07/2003 19:20

Sicily is fab with kids but would definitely add to the recommendations for s/c flat (luckily we stayed with DD's godfather in the foothills of Etna). I'm sure there are plenty of places to rent and as high season is over it shouldn't be too expensive. If you want to be near Etna why not fly into Catania? It's only a 20 min drive (palermo muvh further) and you should be able to get bargain charter flights if you shop around.

The area is very popular because Catania is a major university city there are good beaches and the hill towns like Taormina (v. over-priced tourist hot-spot) are very close.

DD was fine and soon got into the habit of waking late, eating late, but don't expect any special facilities such as baby-change or highchairs or you will be sadly disappointed. Even the "nicer" restaurants were happy to have her and the museums were easy enough.

tinyfeet · 29/07/2003 00:14

I've never been to Sicily, but am going to Italy in a few weeks. Will be spending one week in Amalfi. Does anyone have a good recommendation for portable booster seat/high chair for an 18 month old? Also, any other good advice on travelling in Italy with a toddler? Sorry to intrude on your thread Zebra

marialuisa · 29/07/2003 09:56

We bought a safety first inflatable booster seat that folds into a little carry case when DD was about 15 months. Unfortunately it was a surface clean only thing so it looked grotty very quickly! It was great for travelling but was about £23, much the best in terms of portability though.

Mothercare sells them if you want to take a look.

zebra · 29/07/2003 11:16

Actually, I'm going to hijack my own thread.

It emerges that the relations are barely going to Sicily at all. They fly into Rome, and drive madly down the coast, American-style, ticking off the sights like a trainspotter does engine numbers.

The best place to meet the family (for only 2 full days of visit!) is Badolato, a pretty medieval city in Calabria. To get there we have to spend £320 and up to 15 hours travelling (each way), or £1200 (mimimum) & about 6 hours travelling. I could drive off with them to other places to extend the visit, but long car journeys are not going to be fun with toddlers. Or just go for 2 days. Or say "sod" it, not for that amount of travelling time and money.

I usually see my dad about once a year (he lives in California), although we had two extended visits in the last 6 months. He'll be very upset if I don't fly over to Italy to join him. I have an inheritance which would pay for it, but DH hasn't earned any money in last 8 months. I hate spending more than we're earning, esp. as housing costs will be much higher after we move house in September. We only have more incomings than outgoings at the moment due to Govt. Benefits, and we'll lose nearly all of that after we sell our current house & start renting.

What would other people do -- Decide "it's only money and time" and fly over? Take the cheap long travel time option, or the outrageous expensive option because time is money, or something inbetween (could fly to Naples, 8-11 hours travel time & about £844). I'm not going to relax and enjoy the visit, however long it is.

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marialuisa · 29/07/2003 11:33

My dad is also OS and I have to say that there is no way I'd consider the trip. Your financial situation sounds somewhat precarious and presumably your dad can understand that? It's an awful lot of travelling for such a sort time and i can't imagine the kids are going to be delightful grandchildren if they've been stuck in the car/plane/train for ages.

If your dad is that desperate to see you all, wouldn't he contribute to travel costs? Does he really appreciate the time/money involved? Some U.S. based friends suggested we fly to Tel Aviv for a weekend because "it's not that far from the U.K.", their concept of distance was quite different!

Your post sounded as if you were reluctant anyway, could this be an excuse not to go? Especially as you've seen him twice in six months.

dadslib · 29/07/2003 12:51

Message withdrawn

zebra · 29/07/2003 14:36

My folks are offering to help pay, which makes the whole dilemna worse. Because of inheritance and the proceeds of the house sale, we have enough money to spend £1200 on a 3-day holiday if want, but I'd rather not. I'd rather spend the money more wisely. I abhor the idea of being obliged to the relatives, too. Plus they deserve to spend their money on themselves, not supporting me.

LOL. I feel terribly guilty for not being like most people, who would happily let their parents spend lots of money on them, or spend their entire inheritance, and all the way up to their credit card limits, too. Life's tough being a VIRGO, you know?

I probably will let them pay half the fare, and go for the really expensive but low travel time option.

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zebra · 29/07/2003 14:38

Hi Dadslib: my Step-Mum's family comes from Southern Italy & it's her brother who is organising the trip. Plus Badolato looks fantastic, there's Grecian ruins & Pompei, the wonderfully blue (& polluted, I imagine) Medn Sea, too.

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pipsqueak · 04/10/2003 22:56

We're off to sicily at half term with a group of friends none of whom have kids. We have 2 dds (8 and 18 months).. Does this itinery sound like too much driving? Palermo to Agrigento then to catania or syracuse then to taormina and then to cefalu? all in a a week......ds2 can be a bit of a mare at times. are the roads a bit grim? Any advice gratefully received

bossykate · 05/10/2003 05:45

hi pipsqueak, we went to sicily when ds was 9m. that is quite a bit of driving and much to see in a week! i think it will be a wonderful trip though - all those places sound great. we limited ourselves to taormina and syracuse, but would love to go back and see the other places you mention. we did look into a more extensive trip at the time.

i'd say it depends how good your kids are in the car and if they are generally amenable to travel - we're not talking huge distances, your longest drive (agrigento to the east coast) would be about 3 - 4 hrs IIRC - depending on how many breaks you take. if ds2 can be a bit cranky on car journeys perhaps you will need to take frequent breaks, have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand, little toys like stacking cups and maybe some nursery rhyme tapes?

we found the roads absolutely fine btw.

hth and have a good time.

bossykate · 05/10/2003 06:00


i have found some resources you may find helpful.

Roadmap of Sicily .

i also went to AA routeplanner and you can plan journeys in sicily there. i looked up palermo to agrigento (approx 2 1/2 hours) and agrigento to catania (approx 4 1/2 hours).


pipsqueak · 05/10/2003 12:38

bossykate. Thanks so much for the advice . Its good to hear from someone who understands the rigours of car journies with children. Our friends think nothing of driving form the midlands to scotland for the weekend so I was a bit concerned they had a similar marathon in mind.... I'm beginning to look forward to it now!

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