Monday, 3 September 2012

The Sicily Chronicles (part due- practical info)

As I'm sure you already know (after reading part one of my dramatically titled posts on Sicily), you'll know that myself and my lovely Italian man drove to Sicily.

We toyed with the idea of going by plane or train, but the car won. And I'm really glad that we chose to do it this way. because once we got there, we realised having our own form of transport was totally necessary if we wanted to do anything.

The journey was long. Really long. (We drove over 2000km in total, including shorter journeys when we were there). But we did it, and as tiring as it was, I'd definitely choose to go by car again.

Here's some short, sharp, practical info on getting to Sicily by car:
  • We spent about 80/90 euros each on petrol to cover the distance from Puglia to Trapani. 
  • If, like me, you have a troublesome back (yes, I'm 25 going on 95...) take a cushion. Trust me on this one.
  • We chose not to use the autostrada so that we could save money on tolls. In the end we only spent a tenner each on a part that we couldn't really avoid. And the roads weren't too bad either (ie there were no major potholes to speak of...)
  • The end part of Calabria is somewhat heaving with roadworks. Although there didn't seem to be anyone actually doing any work...
  • The end part of Calabria and the 'beginning' of Sicily (going towards Palermo) have loads of tunnels. This is fine, as long as you have your own music and aren't depending on the radio for entertainment!
  • As you enter Sicily, use the loo/grab a coffee/get petrol/buy a CD at the first autogrill you see. There isn't much in the way of services until Palermo.
  • Taking the ferry from Calabria to Sicily is easy. Head to the ticket booth in the town of Villa San Giovanni, Calabria, grab a ticket and join the (incredibly disorganised) queue to board the massive ferry. That's it. It doesn't take too long, even if you have to wait for the next ferry. No need to book in advance. It does cost €75 for a return journey though. Quite pricey seeing as the crossing is very short. 

We split the journey into two parts (both on the way there and on the way back). This is absolutely necessary if you ask me- you may even want to split it even more if you're coming from further north.

On the way there we stayed in Villa San Giovanni at the Grand Hotel de la Ville. That way, the next morning we could get up, get out, and board the ferry straight away. The hotel was nice enough, with pleasant staff and a really good breakfast, but the area around it was very dull and there was nothing to do. This is OK if you want a quick stopover, but it was a shame we couldn't have had a nice walk in the evening.

Brekky at de la Ville

And on the way back to Puglia, we chose a hotel near Pizzo, Calabria. The Hotel Barbieri was a bit tricky to get to (we had to go down lots of small, windy streets) but it was lovely. Very clean, great food and the woman who runs it is so friendly. Only €30 per person per night too.

I hope I've managed to cover some of the basic info. Get in touch if you want to know anything else! Honestly though, don't forget that cushion....


  1. Goodness me poor old you, it is good thing you have never had to drive back to the UK, the number of times we have done over the years. Yes we do fly as well but we have always taken olive oil back to friends and family from our olive groves every year. Glad Sicily made it all worthwhile though.

    1. Yes, I'm not sure how I'd cope all the way back to the UK!! How do you cope?Do you have a nice stopover in France? Sicily was really incredible, and yes, it did make it worth it! ;)

  2. Hello Amy!! I know that trip to Sicily via land...many years ago, via train- a 'regionale' one at that, in mid- August!! We were travelling to see my sister- in- law who used to live in Bagheria (near Palermo) with her husband, who at the time was working as a Carabiniere in deepest darkest Palermo...
    I can't recommend the train...40+ degrees, no air con and we stopped at the port to cross over- via train!!!! The boat had to load the train on and then the crossing took place. Took hours!! Then onwards via Taormina and Etna to Bagheria. I'd definitely travel back to Sicily again as I think it's wonderful there. Not so sure about living there, "pero'" in- laws soon got a transfer back to the mainland...;-)

    1. Hey Sarah! Train sounds like a nightmare- no air con?! Good grief!! You should definitely travel back. At least with the car you have the air con option (even if you do get a sore bum after!!) :D