Q – My wife and I try to keep up with travel and we keep seeing articles in the press that make us think that travel to Italy anywhere near June – July – August is looking for trouble. The heat waves seem to be truly worrisome and we keep reading about long lines. That brings us to a long-delayed driving trip we want to do in Sicily (we are in our mid-seventies and in fairly decent shape). We are thinking about going around the 15th of October and we are wondering if you think that is a good idea? Is Sicily safe? How would we go about booking such a trip?
A – It isn’t a good idea – it is actually rather brilliant. There is this thing called “Climate Change” and it has made the southern extremities of Italy heat hazardous in the mid-summer months. About 75% of the tourists will be gone and the heat should be a non-issue in October. But here’s the thing – the Sicilians do not, as a rule, have a summer place in Boca Raton. They will be there and the cafes will be busy. The restaurants will be open but you may be able to snag a preferred outdoor table.
Sicily has seen some attacks on tourists but your primary worry will be world-class pickpockets in crowded areas. But as much as the country enjoys a reputation for mibbed-up residents, Sicily is considerably safer than most US cities and their concept of “Freedom” does not include arming every member of the population. You will need to be cautious about where you stay and where you park.
The big decision will likely be whether or not to use Palermo or Catania as a base. We vote for Catania, a Baroque town, Sicily’s second largest city, welll-located on the eastern coast of the island. How you book depends on your budget. Many luxury advisors will not handle self-driving trips as there are just too many non-commissionable variables. If you belong to AAA in your state you may find their services for such a trip on your own to be useful. They do offer extensive mapping services and they can make all hotel arrangements.
If you want priovate guides, good ones, and some of the best hotels available, use the services of an advisor who belongs to one of the top Travel advisor consortiums. Contact us if you need recommendations for one of the better firms near your place of domicile. Learn some Italian before the trip. Traveling on your own requires this extra step. One final thought – learn how to play a decent game of Bocce before you depart. It will come in handy.