Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 882: Bella Sicilia - Central Sicily Off The Tourist Path
By Tony and Barb V from United States, Spring 2005
Trip Description: 16 days in Central Sicily - Our goal was to experience the small mountain villages our grandparents knew 100 years ago.
Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Sicily
Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Foodie Trip; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 2 People
Page 1 of 14: General Impressions and Planning
Typical view of Central Sicily
This trip was the first we had ever taken completely on our own – no tour group, only our own planning. Our hope was to really experience Central Sicily, the place where Tony’s ancestors had been born, to see the nearby villages they would have known. On an earlier Grand Circle tour to Sicily, we had seen many of the most famous attractions of Sicily, but had only made a brief excursion by train to Marianopoli and Vallelunga, the mountain towns that were far from the beaten (tourist) track. We had been impressed then by the people in those towns, though we only had a few hours to spend at that time, and hoped to return. In 2005, almost four years later, we were able to fulfill that plan.
Messages and reports on the SlowTravel site and emails from some members made us feel a lot more comfortable about our plans. We had no real itinerary other than to spend some time in the two towns; on the suggestion of a Slow Travel member, we booked two weeks at an Agriturismo, Feudo Tudia, which was central to that area. After posting on SlowTalk about our plans, we got a nice email from Vincenzo, the proprietor of the Agriturismo, saying that they were waiting to welcome us there. Before the trip we also downloaded a lot of information about many of the small villages we hoped to visit from a website of tourist information about Caltanisetta province and used the viamichelin website to plan routes to and from the various villages. We had no set itinerary, but planned to drive around as the spirit moved us – or not!! But it helped to have directions and information about the towns before we started out!
Our primary concerns about making this trip on our own were communicating and driving (we had heard varying reports on how difficult it was to drive in Sicily, especially in the villages) Although Tony had taken a course in Italian, most of our study of the language was from books, tapes and CDs; we were not sure whether we would be able to communicate well enough. Several people had also warned us that the Sicilian dialect was very different from the Italian spoken on the mainland and would cause problems in understanding. Neither concern proved to be a major problem during the trip.
Two things impressed us the most about Sicily. The first was how green the countryside was; the last time we were in Sicily it was November and everything was brown and dead. In the spring Sicily is very green and lush, with craggy hills and mountains, and gently rolling hills, although with very few trees (very different from Vermont!). The scenery was absolutely beautiful.
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