We’re in Sicily!

Melanie here! Giving Doug a break from writing.

Sicily. So excited be here! We arrived late, having lost a chunk of Palermo time to a cancelled flight from Naples.  But that’s ok- as always we made the most of the time we had.

I really liked Palermo. During trip planning, some people told us “get out of there as quickly as you can”.  Others said otherwise. I fall in the otherwise camp. Arriving late on Friday we ventured out from our hotel at 10pm, and came across a “city that never sleeps” street filled with restaurants, wine bars and people strolling. A midnight to bed for us on this first night with no complaints. Doug did a great job finding us a wonderful hotel – beautiful, central, friendly and super helpful hosts. A great way to start our Sicilian adventure.

Saturday started with a food tour with Streaty. We always enjoy food tours, because in addition to trying foods we wouldn’t otherwise, we get a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide who tells us about local culture and history. Angelo from Streaty didn’t disappoint. He was especially earnest when talking to us about the Mafia. His great uncle was a victim. He didn’t think there was anything funny about that era of the city’s history, even if the movies made were entertaining, and expressed that folks in Palermo do not want to be thought of as the mafia city.

After our food tour, we visited Teatro Massimo, Palermo’s beautiful opera house which is the third largest in Europe behind Vienna and Paris, and generally explored the city. The architecture of the city is beautiful. Palermo was settled by the Arabs, then conquered by the Normans, then the Romans, and still today is a multicultural and architectural patchwork that reflects a combination of these influences.

The next day, rental car in hand, we visited the hilltop, mosaic-rich Monreal cathedral, on our way to Trapani.

Monreal cathedral

In Trapani, a cable car took us high to the ancient city of Erice. Today it’s a touristy village with famous pastry shops.


Dinner in Trapani that night included a conversation that we were starting to feel rushed and trying to cram in too much. This, despite having what we thought was the luxury of 10 days in Sicily. So we decided that the next day we would ditch some of the “nice to do” sites we had planned in order to focus on the grand prize, unhurried time in Agrigento to visit the Valley of the Temples. I’m a sucker for Greek and Roman ruins, and this site is the one of the most well preserved Greek sites in the world. We’ve been fortunate to spend time in Greece at the Acropolis (wow!), Olympia (incredible to picture the olypmians competing there), and Delphi (probably one of the most beautiful Greek sites I’ve seen). Agrigento was a fantastic addition to all of this.

Agrigento – Valley of the Temples

Next up, we continue our counter-clockwise tour of Sicily, visiting Ragusa, Taormina, Mt Etna and more. Stay tuned.

Passaggio in Sorrento

One of the great Italian customs is Passaggio – the evening stroll before dinner. On our last night in Sorrento we joined the locals, expats and tourists on Corso Italia, a pedestration Main Street. We then wound our way through the older Greek Quarter – now packed with vendors of leather and lemon products. And finally down to the fishing harbor for a could-not-be-fresher seafood dinner. Goodbye & grazie Sorrento, Scicily here we come!

The Path of the Gods

Winding its way along the rocky coast through lemon and olive groves, The Path of the Gods descends from the mountain town of Bomerano to the seaside in Positano. With a name like that, this hike had a lot of built in expectations. Fortunately it didn’t disappoint.

We started with a bus ride ’up’ from our base in Amalfi. The winding roads are completely incompatible with full size busses, but the bus drivers pull it off with a casual attitude. We were far from alone, almost the entire bus was filled with people with the same plan. In Bomerano we grabbed a panini for the hike and headed to the start of the trail.

The path ends in Nocelle, a village above Positano, where we enjoyed a lemon granita before starting down a few steps to Positano. How many steps you ask? 1960 if I counted correctly! Very happy we were headed down not up.

Finally we arrived in Positano – built into the hillside and filled with an endless bounty of upscale shopping.


Capri is small, about 3 Central Parks worth in square miles. Although there are only about 12k residents, they get around 2M visitors per year, so we were glad it was at least a little off season, although during the day it was hard to tell. Ferryloads of day trippers arrive around 10am, filling the town with people. Things were a bit quiter at night, but still lively.

We started our first day with an uphill morning walk to the easternmost point of the island. Our path took us through a quiet part of town, with villas all along the way. At the top of Capri, Emporor Tiberious built Villa Jovis in 27 AD and lived there for 10 years (to avoid being assasinated back in Rome). Only ruins remain, with a far newer church plopped right on top. But there is a beautiful view back to the mainland, including Mt Vesuvious.

After a quick snack, it was time for our ’circle the island’ boat tour. Most of the shore of the island is dramatic cliffs, caves and sea stacks – a boat was the perfect way to see it all.

Our second day was ’road trip day’, all the way (3 miles) to the other end of the island via bus. We intended to take the chairlift to the top of Mt. Salero (1500 meters) and then do some exploring. But an uncooperative cloud sent us to Plan B, and we were off on the ”Path of the Forts”, a 3 mile hike in the western edge of the island. The forts were built by the British in the 1800s and then improved by the French when they took control. There’s not a lot left to see from a fort standpoint, but they built them in a beautiful place!

By the time we finished our hike, the weather had cleared and we were rewarded with great views at the top of the chairlift. Back in the town of Anacapri we enjoyed a pizza and beers in the center of town before grabbing the bus back to Capri town.

Home, Car, Bus, Plane, Train, Train, Taxi, Ferry, Funicular, Capri

Planning done. Shopping done. Packing done. Refrigerator cleaned out. Dog in kennel. Might as well go to Italy! We are off for a 4 week adventure, visiting the Amalfi coast, Sicily, and Rome. Our first step, a transportation cornucopia.

We had an easy overnight flight to Rome, took the airport express train into the city, then the high speed rail to Naples, then a ferry to Capri. Everything went well and we arrived in Capri on an earlier ferry than expected. A 2 euro funicular ride to climb the 150 meters from the port to the town of Capri, a short walk and we arrived at our hotel. Well traveled but not exhausted. Dropped our bags in the room and headed out on a walk in search of views and cocktails. Found both. An early dinner, a good nights sleep and off to explore Capri for the next two days!

Our arrival into Capri
Happy hour view. 12 euro beers seem perfectly reasonable for this!