In Venice, Hotel Abbazia was very nice. Lovely hotel and a bargain compared to everything else in Venice. Staff was lovely, friendly and warm.
Restaurant recommendations were spot on - excellent directions. Thank you for those, as the rest of the food and restaurants (not recommended) were a disappointment.
In Sicily, Etna Vistas Hotel was also a lovely hotel. Friendly staff. Downside though is that I did not realize how much it was really "in" the city of Giare. Street noise was loud. The room we had also did not have any windows except the front door which made it exceptionally dark. Very nice room though otherwise - well that is until the morning after our first night stay and somehow a Queen Bee made her way into our room (I think via the tile roof) and her whole entourage decided to follow suit. The hotel was quick to respond and moved us.
I have already recommended In Italy to some other friends and would use you again if not for the restaurant recommendations alone!
We returned from our trip to Sicily in late September. We cannot thank you enough for your wonderful suggestions, itinerary, and places to stay. This was, indeed, an amazing trip! I cannot come up with one single negative, other than the weather, maybe. As you may know, the weather in the Mediterranean area had been pretty unstable in September, and there were a couple of really violent storms while we were there. There were mudslides in the Messina area a few days after we left Sicily -- but, all in all, most of the days were sunny and warm, and we took the two days of pouring rain to relax a bit. Unfortunately it poured on the day we were to go to Catania and the day we were to go to Palermo -- but we are undaunted! It just gives us a reason to return to Sicily -- although we were there for two weeks, there is so much more to see!
The hotels were all great. Again, I cannot think of one negative thing to say. Some of the directions were not perfect, but we always seemed to find our way! And getting a wee bit lost was part of the fun. . .
We first went to the Etna Vistas hotel after picking up our rental car at Catania airport. The restaurant was outstanding -- we ate there three of the four nights. The entire hotel staff was excellent. Everyone was helpful and friendly. The highlight of this segment of the trip was definitely the excursion to Mt. Etna. I am 61 years old and I cannot believe that we hiked up to one of the craters, walked the rim and hiked back down -- but I have the pictures to prove it!!! There were only six of us on the tour, my husband and I, and two young Italian couples, both on their honeymoon trips. Everyone had a fantastic time -- we learned a great deal from Gaetano about the volcano. He was also most aware of our safety at all times -- so unless you have an unconquerable fear of heights, give it a try. We loved touristy Taormina (the Greek theater is outstanding -- it is worth it to pay extra for the audio tour), Acireale was a wonderful slice of authentic Sicily, as were the small towns along the coast we visited on a leisurley drive. Unfortunately, the day we planned to take a train into Catania there were torrential rains, so that city remains for our next trip to Sicily.
Our next stay was at the Marsala Winery. We were becoming better at navigating and map reading, so we found this place without a hitch. What a lovely place -- surrounded by vineyards, with a view of the sea and Erice in the distance! Our room was beautiful -- the entire place was beautiful! And the staff was again friendly, warm and could not do enough for us. The restaurant at this hotel was fabulous. On our third evening here, we were the only people -- but we were treated like royalty! We especially enjoyed our tour of the winery with Giuseppe and our visit to the tasting room. To me, the highlight of the entire trip was our visit to Erice. We took the cable car up to Erice -- it was great fun -- and I think less stressful than the hairpin-turn road below us! Many years ago my children gave me a book, "Bitter Almonds," the story of Maria Grammatico, an orphan girl raised in a convent in Erice. She left the convent at age 18 and went on to establish a pastry shop, as she learned pastry making from the nuns. But what a pastry shop! Marie still runs it, and although she was not there that day, it was a thrill to see it -- and of course, to try some of the pastries! Erice is a gorgeous medieval town and not to be missed, in my opinion. We also visited the fantastic Greek ruins in Segesta and Selinunte. Outstanding! Trapani and Marsala were also fun to visit.
Again, I cannot thank you enough for helping us plan this wonderful trip! We are already beginning to think about next year -- Steve wants to visit his ancestral town in Campania! So, once we get past the holidays, you will be hearing from us! Until then, we wish you warm and happy holidays.
Karen and Steve M.
Hi there Jessica,
Etna Vistas Hotel was very good. Excellent staff. The hotel is a calm and quiet haven given a busy local area. It is a hidden gem with a good view of Mt. Etna.
Was recommend to a wonderful restaturant by Etna Vistas staff. 'La Spiga', located in Altarello di Giarre - 10 min drive from the Etna Vistas Hotel. Excellent home made food and huge portions -- we went 2x while visiting the local area, friendly and helpful staff. Highly recommend.
We visited Mt. Etna during mid - April. The cable car wasn't working bcs it was too windy so we took the tour bus up to the top. We stopped along the way to hire heavier coats as we were dressed inappropriately. When we got to the top there were winds about 50 mph and tried to follow the tour guide. Unfortunately it was too windy, cold and scary for an 8 and 10 year old. I would suggest those who are planning to go to the top of Mt Etna ask about the wind speed and/or weather conditions at the top before spending about 35 euros per person for the ride up.
Thank you very much.