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Hello, Kristin!

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.

Dear Kristin,

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

We just had the most amazing, relaxing, and enjoyable trip to Italy. The two places we stayed in Sicily were absolutely fantastic.

Marsala Winery was beautiful and more than accommodating, even the beach they sent us to was able to address my accessibility issues and get me into the sea without any difficulties. As a traveller using a wheelchair for all mobility, I was so impressed with Siciliy. I had no difficulty getting into the various churches, beaches, archeological sites, and restaurants. In fact, the ONLY place I ran into difficulty was at Pompeii, and I was very surprised at that since all the other Unesco sites were not only accessible, but had strived to match ADA standards.

Our second stay in Sicily was at Baglio di Piazza Armerina. The three of us decided this was our favorite place to stay, not just for this trip, but for all of our travels over the last 20+ years! The food was amazing, the wine delicious, and our rooms adorable (and big!) Again, thank you for everything you did to help our trip be as wonderful as it was.

Anne R.

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