People have asked how do I plan the itinerary for an European trip. This write up will demonstrate how I set up the outline of a trip which will be fleshed out with much more detail at a later date.
First I place a time constraint which in this case will be one month. Typically, I like to visit most European countries like Italy in the Spring or in the Fall, so that I can avoid the hot, uncomfortable weather and the summer tourist crowds. Also, since this time, I will be accompanied by just one friend, I plan to take advantage of being a retired airline employee by using my benefits for standby seats. If my friend is too nervous about this plan, I can purchase confirmed seats for a reduced price or I can purchase tickets for just the New York City portion. I am truly convinced that we will have ample options for standby seats to Europe because we can fly into numerous cities and then take a train to Rome.
Just in case, we encounter difficulties with flying standby, I will have to provide for some flexibility in making any lodging arrangements. Thus, I will add a cushion of a 2-3 day stay in Rome, both upon our arrival and exit from Italy. We will book a room at the River Palace Hotel, Via Flaminia, 33, 00196 Roma, telephone, 39-06-83 00 11; fax 39 06 83 00 1234; email@example.com; http://www.riverpalacehotel.it.
We already know that we will sojourn at the River Palace Hotel in Rome and at our favorite Amalfi Coast hotel, Onda Verde, Via Terramare, 3, 84010 Praiano SA, Italy; phone +39 089 874125
From Rome, we will travel either by an overnight train or ferry to Palermo, Sicily. Since we wish to tour the Amalfi Coast for about a week as well as having scheduled for up to 6 days in Rome, we have a window of about two weeks to explore Sicily. This means, we are limited to just spending time in two to three cities at the most.
By looking at the map with the knowledge that we have only a 2 week window to begin to familiarize ourselves with Sicily, I am leaning towards focusing my research on the cities of Palermo which is the largest city and capital of Sicily; the second largest city of Catania, where the volcano, Mt. Etna is located; Taormina which is most similar in appearance to the Amalfi Coast and the Aeolian Islands. Then there is the possibility of locally arranged side day tours to destinations such as Agrigento, Cefalu, Erice, Messina, Monreale, Syracuse and Trapani. At this point, nothing is set in stone and I am completely open to any and all options. My traveling buddy is in the process of checking out the availability of rental apartments in Sicily.
I already know that we can travel from Rome to Palermo, Sicily by train. Because it takes about 12 hours by train from Rome to Palermo, we will pre book an overnight sleep compartment. When the train reaches the tip of the boot of Italy at Villa San Giovanni, it is then split into two parts and rolled onto the ferry. It’s an impressive feat of engineering. I have verified that there is an Interbus from the Palermo train station to Catania/ Taormina which is inexpensive, comfortable and well recommended. Then I have figured out that we can travel from Catania to Naples by ferry; and from there, we are on our way to the Amalfi Coast. Finally, I have discovered tour companies which can help with the day side trips to various places.
After about a week on the Amalfi Coast, we would back track to Rome for a couple of days before returning to Florida.
The following explanation of why I would be enticed to tour Sicily can be found on page 161 of the Lonely Planet’s book, “Southern Italy:”
“More of a sugar-spiked espresso than a milky cappuccino, Sicily rewards visitors with an intense, bittersweet experience. Overloaded with art treasures and natural beauty, undersupplied with infrastructure and continuously struggling against Mafia-driven corruption, Sicily’s complexities sometimes seems unfathomable. To really appreciate this place, come with an open mind – and a healthy appetite. Despite the island’s perplexing contradictions, one factor remains constant: the uncompromisingly high quality of the cuisine.”
“After 25 centuries of foreign domination, Sicilians are heirs to an impressive cultural legacy, from the refined architecture of Magna Graecia to the Byzantine splendor and Arab craftsmanship of the island’s Norman cathedrals and palaces. This cultural richness is matched by a startlingly diverse landscape that includes bucolic farmland, smoldering volcanoes and kilometers of island-studded aquamarine coastline.”
“The extraordinary street plan of Palermo has maintained its original Medieval Arab characteristics, with closed alleys and narrow streets. These passageways branch from two principle streets which in meeting, divide the city into four ancient quarters. Each quarter has twisting alleys, designed to house entire families which can become completely closed at night.”
Sites that we would like to investigate further include, The cathedral and its Portico, Massimo Theatre, Pretoria Square, Politeama Theatre and Palace of the Normans.
Train or ferry from Rome to Palermo – Italy, Western Europe …12/14/2007 http://www.lonelyplanet.com › … › Western Europe › Italy…