Palermo, the regional capital of Sicily, is one of those cities with its own very distinct, almost tangible atmosphere, a place of mystery where reality often outperforms the traveller’s imagination and preconceived stereotypes. Visiting Palermo is still somewhat of an adventure in a world where so many places have become tourist-friendly to a fault. You won’t find many restaurants with menus translated into 5 different languages, you may have trouble communicating in English in many places, and some parts of the old town center have remained untouched since they were bombed during the war.
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206 Kms from Palermo
Sicily’s second largest city is Catania, and is where a majority of European flights land in to. It lies on the Eastern side of the island along the Ionian coast, sitting in the shadows beneath Mount Etna. In 1669 Catania was covered in lava from Mount Etna and then, just 24 years later in 1693 an earthquake shook the town down to its foundations. Most of the old town was rebuilt, and as ever resourceful was rebuilt using lava, therefore Catania is describe as being a rather dull and grey city. There are a couple of nice piazzas and the Duomo is worth a visit. The atmosphere is what really brings you to the city, the bustling fish markets, the people and the smells. There is a place in the city that is also renowned for horse meat if that’s your thing! Or if not give it a try..although the signature dish of Catania is Pasta alla Norma, that consists of fried chunks of aubergine, a rich tomato sauce and salty ricotta cheese….. Buon appetito!
301 Kms from Palermo
Sorrento is a beach town located just south of Naples and just on the other side of the Amalfi coast. It is located on the cliffs above the Tyrrhenian Sea and it makes a great jumping off point to see the highlights of Campania, including Pompeii, Naples and Positano, all of which are just a short but sweaty train ride away (if you are going in summer that is since there is no air conditioning). Sorrento is framed with looming Mt. Vesuvius in the east and Capri in the sea out to the west. You couldn’t ask for a more idyllic location, the only problem is that the beach is super tiny. But the Italians solved this problem by creating places to tan and swim by building large piers equipped with lounge chairs and umbrellas. Sorrento is an amazing town and well worth staying there if just for the sunsets and the water, but the town also has amazing food. If you are heading to Campania I highly recommend staying in Sorrento and even if you are on a budget there are a lot of cheap camping sites where you don’t even have to worry about bringing a tent.
280 Kms from Palermo
We went back to the hotel after a short visit in Valletta, where we didn’t find what we were looking for. And it was time for some relaxation after hours of driving and walking around in the heat. We ended the day with an hour on deck chair by the hotel pool before we took a few drinks before dinner at Batubulan Sunset Grill, a good restaurant by the sea, where we got a great view over the beautiful sunset.
306 Kms from Palermo
Day 9: I was super excited as we were going to Positano - a quaint little town on the Amalfi Coast. This was a place which was “Love at First Sight” for me when I saw pictures online. It is a task getting there from Rome (2 trains with about an hour's journey in each + an hour's journey by bus + walking) but definitely worth it. It took us about 5 hours from Rome to our hotel in Positano. We took the 8:48AM train to Naples which arrived at Naples around 10:15AM. We then took the 10:41AM local Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Sorrento which reached around 12noon. It was pouring on the way but luckily got sunny later on. We missed a SITA bus due to the long queues and then had to wait for about half an hour for the next bus. We got a bus at 1PM and were lucky to get a window seat on the right side of the bus to get to view the amazing Amalfi coast. On reaching Positano, the bus stops on the main road and you have to walk down to your hotel, we had to walk quite a bit with our bags. We checked in at Hotel Royal Prisco at about 2:30PM. Had lunch and then headed down to the beach. We then walked through the lanes of Positano, bought some pizza, wine & limoncello to enjoy an amazing dinner on the balcony of our room under the stars.