After 16 months of planning, our group of 6 travelers arrived in Catania, on April 3, 2013, as Mt. Etna was spewing ash----a most unique welcome! Paolo's right hand man, Luca, was at the airport to meet us, as promised. He drove us to Taormina and our Panoramic Hotel, built into the cliff overlooking Isola Bella and the sea. This was a wonderful way to start our tour of Sicily! The view could not have been more beautiful and the facilities were perfect for our needs. The bountiful breakfast buffet was the best of our 3 week stay in Italy! From there we toured Taormina, Noto, Siracusa, Ortigia and were driven, carefully, up Mt. Etna by Luca, as the ash covered road was slippery. This is an area full of Baroque Architecture, as the towns were rebuilt after the devastating earthquakes of 1693.
Our location changed to Agriturismo Leone for the following 3 nights. Corredo, Laura and little Salvatore were wonderful hosts and fed us much too much of their home grown produce and meats. From the farm, we toured Modica, Ragusa and a wild, mountainous region with an archeologist, who showed us remains of structures dating as far back as 1,400 BC. We enjoyed meeting " Vanessa D. and her mom from Sydney" at the farm. (See "The Perfect Way to Travel".)
Paolo took over as driver/guide for our journey to Palazzola Armerina and its amazing mosaics and to Agrigento's Valley of the Temples. After driving through the countryside of colorful wildflowers, fruit trees, olive groves and green pastures, we arrived at the mountain top, medieval town of Erice with its fortress and expansive views. This was different than the Baroque style structures of southeast Sicily. Driving farther along the northern coast, we reached Palermo with its hectic traffic and gold-tiled Norman churches. We stayed in a downtown neighborhood at Palazzo Riolo-B&B 10 Serpotta where we had spacious, one bedroom condos, an elevator and tasty breakfasts.
Paolo hired excellent city guides for our group, all with good English language skills and considerate of our needs. He was always accommodating, protective and full of information. His love of Sicily was abundant and it rubbed off on all of us. We highly recommend his tour to all those who want to experience the REAL SICILY !
Punta Gorda, FL Travelers
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