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Apr 5, 2011 11:42 AM

Sicily or Sardenia

Hello all I will be going to Italy in July and can't decide between Sicily or Sardenia. CAn I get some feed back. Little info about me, love to eat drink really good wine and atmosphere needs to be relaxing but somewhat upbeat. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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  1. Sicily: larger, more diverse, messier; Sardinia, smaller, can be more traditional, more self-contained. Both can and do have good food and wine. Relaxing but somewhat upbeat? Can find lots of corners like that in both places, indeed in any place in Italy. Beyond that, there are tons of different issues and angles to research and explore, like 2 distinctive cultures and histories, that you're best positioned to do on your own, against your own likes and interests.

    1. I have not been to either, but my understanding is the cuisine of Sicily is far more seafood based than that of Sardinia. It is likely to be VERY warm on either island!

      1. Like Bob says, I think it really depends on what you like and intend to do. whether you just want to hang out on a beach and do a bit of touring or whether you want to tour around and see cultural sights.. sicily is bigger, has a much more diversified cultural and historic background, has a lot more people and cities and geographies but to see them you would need to tour..
        both islands offer seafood, but like most of italy, its seafood on the coast and a land-based cuisine inland, even just a few miles. There is more diversified agriculture in Sicily so that food might vary more as you move around the island. If It were me I would choose Sicily in a heartbeat, but Im not you, we need more info about your preferences to advise..

        15 Replies
        1. re: jen kalb

          Hi Jen,

          Sicily is on my radar. The tentative plan is to rent a car and slowly drive around the island. Time permitting, we would maybe sail off to one of the out islands.

          Any thoughts on places to see, places to eat? Should I upgrade my "tourist" Italian?

          1. re: steve h.

            We did a drive around Sicily some 20 years ago, the highlight of which was tracking down some relatives. I would happily go back again -- I really loved it, however the weather in late July is bound to be brutally hot.

            Read Il Gattopardo -- The Leopard, and the beginning of the book is all about "polvero" or dust, and the aristocratic family's removal to the mountains in the summer in search of some coolness and relief from the unremitting heat. For a July vacation, I might be inclined to choose a resort somewhere and do day trips when the lassitude isn't overcoming you. Seriously. It's hot. I spent several summers in Egypt, and look at a map -- they are so very close, and the heat there is as overwhelming as it would be in Sicily. Two Julys ago, en route to Cairo, I insisted on going to Italy first in order to introduce my son to what I think is the most wonderful place on earth. We did the big cities (or at least the big tourist cities), and it was then and there that I pledged that I will never go to Italy in the summer again unless I am at a resort or renting a house by the sea. Good luck!

            1. re: roxlet

              Thanks roxlet for the insight. My thoughts were for a mid-March/early-April adventure. Deb and I typically spend most of March in Rome. Sicily beckons.

              1. re: steve h.

                Perfect time to go, steve h! We were there in April and the weather was glorious to say nothing about the fields of wild flowers! And you're still in Italy! How jealous am I?

                1. re: steve h.

                  We were in Sicily (first time) a couple weeks ago. In addition to the seafood, we enjoyed just about everything with almonds, pistachios, blood oranges, chocolate. Wine. The list goes on and on. Oh and the pizza.

                  My only regret was that I rushed around too quickly but then I knew I was doing that going in.

              2. re: steve h.

                Again, how much time are you allowing yourself: Sicily is big, about 10,000 sq miles, with a large, open interior. Where's your starting point (Palermo, Catania, Messina, Trapani, etc)? Also remember that the 2 major out islands (Eolie, Egadi) are at opposite corners of the islands. Before Jen or anyone can offer any recs, you'll need to focus on at least one or 2 parts of the Island, I think. And tourist Italian can be enough some times, it's up to you; but I'm always keen on speaking as much Italian as I can, and knowing something about national and regional politics and culture. A little dialect can't hurt, too: watch what happens when you call parsley the dialect "petrusino" instead of the standard "prezzemolo", for instance. Enjoy!

                1. re: bob96

                  10-14 days with car. This adventure will clearly require research and advice. Thanks.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    I've done the food- tour -of -Sicily-in-a-rental-car three times now, visiting new spots and revisiting favorites each time. Depending on how 'in-depth' you plan to explore each area (or one city in particular, which I would say Palermo warrants), I think the 10-14 day window sounds right, and maybe you should lean toward 14, if possible. If you consider the island in terms of a triangle, with the province of Messina representing the NE, the province of Siracusa representing S and Trapani the NW, then each corner, in terms of food, poses rather different traditions and local flavors. Sicilian cuisine is so much more than fish, and their wine production is so much more than Nero d'Avola. There is definitely a 'right' place to sample certain delicacies, such as pasta with pistacchio, cassata, North African seafood couscous, and granita, to name a few. The landscapes and even linguistic accents are different in each area, too, but I wouldnt worry. The Sicilians are, by and large, highly adaptable to visitors' language and accustomed to communicating at all levels of mainland Italian :). Also, while I would counsel against completely ignoring the interior of the island, you really don't need to plan on spending any overnights inland. IMO, any visitor can sample the best of each corner and nearly all points in between, by choosing 3 base cities for 3-4 nights each and making good use of an automobile for day trips near and far. Ideally, I would recommend 4 nights each in the Etna/Taormina and Siracusa areas and 5 nights in the Palermo area. That way, no destination will ever be more than 1-1.5 hours from your base, and you will definitely complete your tour with a sense of having grasped the complex culture of Sicily. This is totally doable in April- a heavenly time on that particular island. I would be happy to provide specific restaurant/agriturismo/specialty shop recommendations for each area, if you would like. Moreover, I'll be spending a month or so on the island this year, and hope to do a little chronicling on this board while I am there :)

                    Nero d'Avola
                    vico Spuches 8, Taormina, Sicilia 98039, IT

                    1. re: vvvindaloo

                      VVV: I, for one, would be very interested in learning of your agriturismi recommendations for each point in the triangle.

                      1. re: vvvindaloo

                        Excellent report. I'm looking forward to your "dispatches from the front."

                        Thanks, v!

                    2. re: bob96

                      I am certainly not qualified to offer serious reccs since I have not been to sicily myself, ive just been doing a lot of research to populate the restaurant pages and satisfy my own interest. It seems to me that there are some areas including in the interior that are particularly attractive and many outstanding restaurants both simple and upscale. A simple circle would not satisfy my interestWe have had some good posts/discussions on the board which would be a good place to start including some recent posts by Willem on Palermo and by a local poster on the Taormina restaurant scene, but there have been others..

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Thanks. I'm thinking it will take me many months to sort things out.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          Taormina is like a Tuscan hilltown but perched on a cliff overlooking the sea, its a fabulous spot, plenty of great small restos (la capinera *michelin , osteria nero d'avola, la tavernetta, maffei's), ideal time tho is april or september....but try and check it out if possible

                          1. re: jcrowne

                            Taormina may be all that, but it's also the most touristed spot on the Island--and as a result, overcrowded and overpriced.

                            1. re: bob96

                              Yes, I agree. It is beautiful, no doubt, but it was our least favorite place that we visited. Very crowded and very touristy.