first time to italy: rome & sicily (& possibly aeolian islands)
i'll be flying into rome next week. it's my first time going to italy and i'm SUPER excited.
i've been having a really hard time deciding how best to spend the nine days i'll be there. i'm meeting a friend from tel aviv and we want it to be relaxing -- i think that rules out renting a car (at least for me, the idea of driving in italy would be stressful.) definitely need some eating and neighborhood suggestions in rome but i'm sure there are plenty on the board, so i'll do some digging for those.
my plan is to spend a couple days in rome, and then maybe head down the coast to naples and ferry over to the aeolian islands, and make our way to sicily. probably stay a few nights in ortigia, and fly out of catania back to rome to catch our flights home.
does this sound like an OK itinerary, or am i crazy for skipping over the amazing-sounding florence & venice etc on my first trip? any other parts of sicily that are first-rate, charming, that you'd recommend staying in over ortigia? I want to avoid taormina, i think, b/c it sounds like there are always hordes of tourists there. are my instincts right?
if i do go this route, can anyone recommend favorite eating experiences in these places? i don't really eat pork, but i'm pretty much open to anything else (and i love sweets!)
I'd not worry about missing Florence or Venice on this trip--Naples and Sicily more than make up for them in deliciousness. Sicily's large enough that your 9 days the islands might disallow much there besides the Aeolian Islands. Palermo and Messina are both connectors to the Aeolians, and could be added in. Taormina can be a pass. Try this site: http://www.isoleeolie.com/ And check CH Italy boards for loads of Sicily and Naples recs.
I recently returned from visiting both Sicily and Rome.
Here is my take on a couple of things.
Sicily, do visit Taormina, it's too wonderful a landscape to miss.
We stayed at the Hotel Villa Schuler which comes with an amazing breakfast offering.
The view of the sea from one balcony and Mt Etna from the other, wonderful place.
Don't be put off by the tourists, it's now the slower season.
Go to the western town of Erice which lies atop Trapini. Stay in Erice, wonderful medieval walled town. Eat at Restaurante Monte San Giuliano (have the S. Giuliano Busiate, and the pasta a La Norma) Amazing dishes.
Ice Cream - Gelato, I tried several, go to Giolitti, located behind the Italian Parliment building, near the Pantheon, the ultimate Ice Cream in Rome - Seriously.
I was recommended to go to Osteria La Gensola for Fish although found the dishes to be nothing special and would not reccomend due to their prices.
So many great places to eat in Rome. Good Luck....
Piazza della Gensola, 15, Rome, Lazio 00153, IT
Monte San Giuliano
Via San Rocco,7, Erice, Sicily 91016, IT