Subject: Re: Sicilian queries
Hi, Penny and Ziners,

During your stay in Rome I recommend you not to miss Taverna di Mercanti at Piazza di Mercanti in Trastevere. That's a beautiful place with a great decoration, especially at the evening!

There are many place to visit in Rome, but possibly you were able to see a lot in your previous trip. Around Rome I recommend you visiting the midages town of Viterbo. Of course you know the story about the white smoke. It was there!!! Another nice old village is Civitta di Bagnoreggio. Very romantic place.

About your rail trip to Sicily. I'm afraid that it can be not easy, because it takes a lot of time. Also, you spend a lot of your time just on train, instead to spend on walking.

Sicily is beautiful place, but much less in winter.

If you go anyway, let me say this. You're right to choose one of the cities as a basis. Catania is much more ugly than Palermo. In Palermo the at least the central streets are well-repaired, more or less. Catania today is just in the stage of repairing. Only a few sites are in a good condition. But Catania is just less than two hours by bus from Syracuse with its wonderful archeological park and very interesting museum. The mideaval quarter is exciting as well. From Syracuse within an hour you can get to Noto and from Noto within two hours to Modica and Ragusa - three very impressive baroque towns. If you do this trip, it's better to sleep a night in Syracuse. From Catania you can also visit the charming Taormina (about 40 min by train).
>From Catania also leaves the bus to Etna.

Palermo has many! terrific churches (one of them La Martorana with Byzanthine mosaics), the Catedral in Monreale with Byzantine mosaics. The same sort of mosaics is in the Palazzo Normanni. Palermo also has the best in Sicily archeological museum. Another site in Palermo is its Catedral - very impressive from outside! The catacombes of Cappucines are very striking site - you'll find there the bodies of dead people who didn't want to be buried in the land. Palermo has two great theatres. If you want to go to Opera in Teatro Massimo, buy the ticket in advance. Otherwise, you'll get the 14 euro ticket before the beginning, but the place are at the upper lodge.

>From Palermo you can make a trip to Besalu (40 min by train), the charming town built by Greeks. It's windy narrow streets are exciting. It also has its own Catedral with great mosaics.

>From Palermo you can visit also Piazza Armerina with great mosaics from the end of the IV century. I must mention that this place is closer to Catania - just 2 hours by bus.

2 hours trip by train and you're in Agrigento - despite the low speed it's recommended by train because of the great landscape that you can see. Agrigento has a very interesting valley of Temples. In mediaval Agrigento I recommend you not to miss the church by Antonio Serpotta. The key you get from some woman living in a house not far from the church. Ask at the museum adjoining the church. The church is a part of Monasterio de San Spirito.

Another possible trip from Palermo is to the Greek archeological site of Segesta, then to Trapani with a nice mediaval quarter, than to Marsala to taste its great wine and to visit the Salinas - the place where the salt was produced. From Salinas you can also take a boat to the tiny Phoenician island of Mozia. 750m above Trapani lies the midages town Erice. The views of Trapani and of Isole Egadi are magnificient from the top.

As you can see, Sicily is a rich place and you need a lot of time. But just try to pick up a few sites from my detailed recommendation.

By the way, in Palermo I recommend you to dine in Casa del Brodo, non-expensive restaurant existing more than 100 years. Corso Vittorio Emmanuele 175.

I can help you with sites of bus companies to get the timetables and with other questions if you need.

Enjoy your trip, Sincerely, Alex Elbert Jerusalem Israel