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Sicily: Palermo & the Northwest Footprint Focus Guide: Includes Cefalù, Agrigento & Pantelleria

Sicily: Palermo & the Northwest Footprint Focus Guide: Includes Cefalù, Agrigento & Pantelleria

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Sicily: Palermo & the Northwest Footprint Focus Guide: Includes Cefalù, Agrigento & Pantelleria

Lunghezza:
206 pagine
1 ora
Pubblicato:
Mar 30, 2012
ISBN:
9781908207012
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Jam-packed with information on this fascinating destination, Footprintfocus Sicily: Palermo and Northwest will guide you around all the best sights and provide you with up-to-date recommendations on where to eat, sleep and party. The guide features:

• Essentials section with tips on getting there and around

• Up-to-date recommendations of great places to stay and eat

• Highlights map of the region plus detailed street maps where relevant

• Key local words and phrases are included to help you communicate with ease

Loaded with advice and information, this concise Footprintfocus guide will help you get the most out of this popular Italian destination.

The content of the Footprintfocus Sicily: Palermo and Northwest guide has been extracted from Footprint’s Sicily guide, written by Italy specialist, Mary-Ann Gallagher.

Pubblicato:
Mar 30, 2012
ISBN:
9781908207012
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Mary-Ann Gallagher has written extensively for numerous travel publishers, including five guides for Footprint. Mary-Ann is currently based in Barcelona.

Correlato a Sicily

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Anteprima del libro

Sicily - Mary-Ann Gallagher

Agrigento.

Planning your trip

Palermo and around

Palermo, Sicily’s theatrical, bomb-blasted, anarchic capital, is tightly packed around a wide, curving bay. It was considered one of the loveliest cities of medieval Europe, but centuries of war, neglect and poverty have stripped it of much of its former beauty. Some spellbinding corners survive, particularly the glittering 12th-century Cappella Palatina, in the Palazzo dei Normanni (Norman Palace), one of the great jewels of Arabic-Norman art. There are some interesting museums, but much of the city’s allure lies in exploring its crumbling alleys and squares, and visiting the eye-popping markets with their glistening offal and gaping fish. Palermo’s seaside suburb, elegant Mondello, is dotted with pretty art nouveau villas submerged in greenery. On a hill overlooking the city, the magnificent cathedral of Monreale is encrusted with dazzling Byzantine mosaics. To the east, the once-chic resort of Bagheria is still scattered with extraordinary follies and whimsical turn-of-the-century villas. Much of Palermo province is former bandit country, and even now towns like Corleone and Prizzi summon up visions of the Mafia (however much they wish they didn’t). Farther east is Cefalù, one of the prettiest seaside towns on the Mediterranean, with a red-roofed old quarter piled up beneath a cliff.

Western Sicily

The western coast of Sicily is flat and ethereal, the coastline delicately etched with the pale outline of salt pans. The provincial capital Trapani, with its surprisingly elegant old quarter and an excellent reputation for its cuisine, occupies a slender promontory. Nearby, the magical, medieval hill town of Erice clings to the mountain-top, overlooking the craggy San Vito Lo Capo and the superb Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro. This reserve encompasses a long swathe of deliciously unspoilt, craggy coastline, with hiking trails and tiny coves. Lost in the hills inland, the great Doric temple of Segesta, erected in the fifth century BC, is heart-stoppingly beautiful. Celebrities in search of peace and seclusion head for the tiny and enchanting island of Pantelleria, closer to Africa than Sicily. The trio of Egadi Islands are more accessible, and the fishing villages, striking coastline and rocky coves draw floods of summer visitors.

Southwestern Sicily

The west boasts two lively and appealing port towns: Marsala, famous for its delicious fortified wine, and Mazara del Vallo, which has an attractive old quarter. There are more spectacular ancient ruins at Selinunte, romantically located on a clifftop amid a profusion of wild flowers. The southern coast, an otherwise workaday region with gritty ports and low-key resorts, contains one of Sicily’s headlining attractions: the stunning Valle dei Templi in Agrigento. This magnificent and extraordinarily well preserved temple group, dating back to the sixth to fifth centuries BC, is the finest to be found outside mainland Greece.

Palazzo dei Normanni and Cappella Palatina, Palermo

Palermo’s 12th-century Norman Palace, built by Roger II, contains one of the most dazzling yet intimate chapels to be found anywhere. Every surface is covered with shimmering mosaics, with bible stories and curious fables exquisitely rendered in miniature, and the ceiling and columns are masterfully worked in gilt and marble.

Cattedrale di Monreale A glorious, golden cathedral crowns the serene hill town of Monreale, high above Palermo. Almost a thousand years ago, the finest Greek mosaicists, aided by their Sicilian pupils, transformed the interior into a breathtaking, gilded masterpiece, filling it with Byzantine mosaics of such beauty and grandeur that they rank among the finest in Europe.

Cefalù A picture-postcard seaside village curled around the base of a dramatic headland, Cefalù has managed to retain oodles of old-fashioned charm despite the crowds that descend every summer. Chic Italians come for the fabulous beaches, but the ancient town has plenty more to offer – not least a splendid Norman cathedral containing superb Byzantine mosaics.

Erice An ethereal, medieval town of cobbled streets and noble palaces, little Erice is perched so high on its hilltop that it often sits above the clouds. When they part, the views across the coastline far, far below are truly magnificent.

Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro Much of the long, craggy finger of the Capo di San Vito is now a stunning nature reserve, offering one of the last unspoilt stretches of Mediterranean coastline. Scramble down to rocky coves of heart-stopping beauty and splash about in the impossibly blue sea.

Segesta Travellers have long gasped at their first glimpse of Segesta, emerging like a mirage from a serene and verdant valley. The great temple has stood here for more than two and a half millennia. Above it, on a wind-whipped crag, are the remains of a Greek theatre with views across the hills.

Pantelleria When celebs want to get away from it all in style, they come to the secretive little island of Pantelleria, which is geographically closer to Africa than Italy. The traditional dammusi (domed stone dwellings) that dot the hilly landscape now contain some of the most chic boutique accommodation to be found in the Mediterranean.

Selinunte Perched magically on a remote, silent headland, Selinunte is among the most poignant ancient sites in Sicily. The soaring columns of its roofless temples and the overgrown tumble of stones are all that survive of what was once one of the most powerful Greek colonies on the island.

Valle dei Templi, Agrigento The great Greek temples of ancient Akragas, magnificently silhouetted high on a ridge near the modern town of Agrigento, are the finest Doric temples to be found anywhere outside mainland Greece. They date back to the sixth and fifth centuries BC, when Akragas was at the height of its powers.

Air

From UK and Ireland There are three international airports in Sicily: Palermo, Catania and Trapani. Another airport, Comiso (near Ragusa), has been constructed, but has yet to open, and access roads have yet to be completed. British Airways flies directly from London Gatwick to Catania; easyJet operates direct services from London Gatwick to Palermo and Catania; Ryanair flies directly from London Luton to Trapani airport, and from London Stansted to Palermo. There are summer-only charter flights to Catania with Avro and Thomas Cook. Alitalia offers services from London Heathrow to Palermo and Catania via Rome or Milan.

From North America Eurofly/Meridiana operate direct flights in summer from New York (JFK) to Palermo Airport. Delta, United, Continental, US Airways, Alitalia offer direct flights from the US to mainland Italian airports. Canadian travellers will have to change in the US, or fly to another European city for a connection. Alitalia fly directly from Toronto to Rome.

From rest of Europe and mainland Italy Direct flights to Sicilian airports depart from most major European cities. These are operated by Air Berlin, Brussels Airlines, easyJet, Ryanair, ThomasCook, Transavia, TUI, and Vueling. Check the company websites and whichbudget.com for specific routes.

There are numerous flights from most mainland Italian airports (including Bologna, Florence, Milan, Palma, Pisa, Rome, Turin, Venice and Verona) with Alitalia-Air One, Wind Jet, easyJet, and Ryanair, and the joint company Meridiana-Eurofly (meridiana.it).

Airport information Catania Fontanarossa Airport T095-723 9111, aeroporto.catania.it, 5 km southeast of the city, is connected to the central train station by AMT Alibus bus no 457 (0500-2400, every 20 minutes, €1). A metro line is under construction and scheduled to open in 2016. A taxi to the centre costs €20-25. There are also direct bus services to other towns on the east coast, including Syracuse and Taormina.

Palermo Falcone Borsellino Airport T091-7020273, gesap.it, is at Punta Raisi, 35 km west of central Palermo. An airport bus departs every 30 minutes (0645-2400, €5.80, buy tickets onboard, journey time 55 minutes) for piazza Politeama and the train station in central Palermo. There is also an hourly train service, Trinacria Express 0554-2205, €5.80, 55 mins. Taxis cost €30-40.

Trapani Birgi Airport T0923-842502, airgest.it, 15 km southeast of Trapani and 15 km north of Marsala, is a hub for budget airlines and the main gateway to western Sicily. There are bus links to Trapani (every 30 minutes, €4.50, journey time 25 minutes), to Agrigento (1-2 services daily, €10.60) and to Marsala (2-4 services daily, €3.50), as well as Palermo.

The islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria (pantelleriairport.it) have small national airports (both managed by Palermo’s Falcone Borsellino airport, T091-702 0619, enacitalia.it), used for summer flights.

Rail

You can travel with Eurostar (eurostar.com) from London to Paris, then take a TGV train to Milan where you should spend the night before picking up a train to Naples the next day. Direct trains depart from Naples for Catania, Siracusa and Palermo. The Paris–Rome sleeper service has been temporarily suspended; it should begin again in summer 2012. From Rome, there are direct services, including a sleeper train, to Catania, Siracusa and Palermo. Tickets at raileurope.com (T0870-584 8848), useful information at seat61.com. From destinations in the rest of Europe, there are also direct passenger trains to Milan and Rome where you can change for services to Sicily.

Road

Car It’s a 2450-km journey from London to Messina, or about 25 hours of driving time. You could halve the drive by taking the ferry from Genoa or Livorno to Palermo (see above). Autostrade T840-042121 for road conditions, autostrade.it, provides information on Italian motorways, while Automobile Club Italiana T803116, aci.it, gives out general driving information.

Bus/coach Eurolines i T087-17818178, eurolines.co.uk, operates three services per week going from London Victoria to Naples (via Milan) with a travel time of around 35 hours. There are bus connections from Naples to several points in Sicily with SAIS i T800-211020, saisautolinee.it.

Sea

The main Sicilian ports are Messina (northeast), Palermo (northwest) and Trapani (west). Travel by ferry is usually comfortable, but often considerably pricier than a budget flight.

Ferry from mainland Italy Caronte T090-364601, carontetourist.it, and FS ferries, run by Italian State Railways (ferroviedellostato.it) operate ferry (25 mins) and hydrofoil (15 minutes) services between Messina and Villa San Giovanni. They also run services to Salerno three times a day. Tirrenia T02-2630 2803, tirrenia.it, and SNAV T081-428 5555, snav.it, operate daily Naples–Palermo crossings (9 hrs 45 mins – 10½ hrs). SNAV also runs crossings between Civitavecchia (Rome) and Palermo (11 hours) and between Naples and the Aeolian Islands. Grandi Navi Veloci T010-209 4591, gnv.it, run daily (excluding Sunday) services between Genoa and Palermo (via Livorno) (20 hours). Ustica operate summer-only hydrofoils from Naples to Trapani (6½ hrs) and Favignana (7 hrs). Tirrenia runs ferries between Cagliari (Sardinia) and Trapani (13 hours). Grimaldi T089-253202, grimaldi-lines.com, operate several routes: Civitavecchia–Catania, Civitavecchia–Trapani, Salerno–Palermo, Tunis–Palermo, Tunis–Trapani, Malta–Catania.

Getting around Sicily can be an adventure. Public transport is erratic, and you’ll need patience and a whole sheaf of Plan Bs. Don’t bother with a car if you are in Sicily on a city break (parking and driving are a nightmare in all Sicilian cities, particularly Palermo) but a car is essential to explore the hidden corners of this beautiful island. If you’re spending time on Sicily’s offshore islands, leave the car behind (there are strict restrictions on bringing vehicles to certain islands during the summer season). The best road maps for the island are published by Touring Club Italiano and Michelin.

Air

The islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria have small airports, with regular flights from Palermo, Trapani and mainland Italian airports in summer.

Rail

Mainland Italy has an extensive and efficient rail network, but Sicily’s is decidedly patchy. The train is worth taking between Palermo and Messina; between Trapani, Marsala and Mazara del Vallo; and from Messina to Syracuse via Catania. Services within other areas are slow or require a change (there is no direct train from Palermo to Catania, for example). Almost everywhere else is best reached by bus (see below). For this reason, none of the usual European rail passes represent good value in Sicily, unless the island is just one stage of a longer Italian or European trip.

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