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Once you reach Sicily, the main transportation means are car, motorcycle, bus, and train. The islands of Lampedusa and Pantelleria are quickly reached by plane from Palermo and Trapani. Ustica, the Aeolian Islands and Egadis are easily reached by boat and hydrofoil.
By car and motorcycle
Traveling around Sicily by car or motorcycle is probably the most convenient way. U.S. and Canadian drivers can drive a rented car in Italy and Sicily. However, you need an international driver’s license to drive a private car.
To apply for an International Driver’s License, visit any AAA branch. You must be at least 18, have two 2-by-2-inch photos and your U.S. driver’s license with your AAA application form. To find the AAA office nearest you, go to www.aaa.com. In Canada, you can get the location of the Canadian Automobile Association office closest to you at www.caa.ca.
Gasoline is expensive and priced at around € 1.35 ($1.60) per liter (about $5.10 per gallon) throughout Italy. Sicily uses international road signs. Driving is on the right and passing on the left. In cities and towns, the speed limit is 50kmph (30 mph). On main and local roads, the limit is 90kmph (56 mph). For the highway, the limit is 80 mph (130kmph). The left lane is used only for passing. Use of seat belts in cars and helmets for motorcyclists is obligatory.
The roads and highways linking the main towns are generally in good condition. The most traveled routes are: Catania-Palermo, also called the A19, which is a convenient link between the island’s two major cities; the other traveled route is A20 going between Palermo and Messina. A18 links Messina and Catania on the eastern coast; A29 goes from Palermo to the main city of the western coast, Trapani. Tolls in Sicily are not as expensive as in the mainland Italy, but there are some: for example, taking the highway from Messina to Catania costs around € 3 ($3.60).
The Automobile Club Italiano (ACI) does not offer free roadside emergency assistante to stranded drivers. If you call the ACI emergency number (tel. 803-116) in the event of a breakdown, you must pay a minimum of € 95 ($112), plus another € 39 ($47) to have your car towed to the nearest garage, € .85 ($1) per kilometer and tax. ACI offices are at Via delle Alpi 6, in Palermo (tel. 091-30 04 68), and at Via Sabotino 1, in Catania (tel. 095-53 33 24).
To rent a car, a driver must have a valid driver’s license, and a valid ID or passport if not an EU citizen. In most cases, he/she should be more than 25 years old. Insurance is compulsory.
It is generally cheaper to make arrangements for car rentals before you leave home. Of course, you can also rent a car once you arrive in Sicily. Although the price can vary greatly depending on the vehicle, the average rental on the island costs € 50 (about $56) per day.
|Alamo||Catania, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa||www.alamo.com||(800) 462 52 66|
|Autoeurope||Agrigento, Catania, Messina, Palermo, Ragusa,
Siracusa, Taormina, Trapani
|www.autoeurope.com||(888) 223 55 55|
|Avis||Catania, Palermo||www.avis.com||(800) 33 11 21|
Agrigento, Alcamo, Caltanissetta,
Catania, Cefalù, Enna, Giardini Naxos, Letojanni, Messina,
Milazzo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Palermo, Taormina, Trapani
223 57 30
|Europcar||Agrigento, Catania, Cefalù, Messina,
Milazzo, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, Taormina Trapani
|www.europcar.com||(+39) 049 979 35 55|
|Hertz||Agrigento,Catania, Gela, Enna, Messina, Milazzo,
Ragusa, Siracusa, Palermo, Taormina, Trapani
|www.hertz.com||(800) 217 92 97|
|Holiday Car Rental||Catania, Palermo, Taormina, Trapani||www.holidaycarrental.it||(+39) 095 34 67 69|
|Italy by Car||Catania, Palermo, Taormina||www.www.italybycar.it||(+39) 091 639 31 20|
|Maggiore||Catania, Gela, Messina, Milazzo, Siracusa,
|www.maggiore.it||(800) 645 38 80|
|Sicily by Car||Catania, Cefalù, Giardini Naxos, Taormina,
|www.autoeuropa.it/||(+39) 095 34 99 00 (Catania
|Sixt||Catania, Palermo, Messina,
Ragusa, Sciacca, Siracusa, Taormina, Trapani
|www.e-sixt.it||(199) 10 06 66 or +39
(06) 652 11 from outside Italy
|Targarent||Catania, Palermo||www.targarent.it||(199) 856 856|
Bus lines connect most Sicilian towns and villages and are divided in linee urbane (within a city or small centers) and linee extraurbane (connecting towns and villages through major roads or highways). The major bus company is AST (Azienda Siciliana Transporti), linking the main Sicilian towns of Palermo, Messina, Catania, Trapani and Modica. Giuntabus offers service from Messina to Milazzo and Catania Airport to Messina and Milazzo.
SAIS (tel. 091-616028 in Palermo, or 095-53 61 68 in Catania) offers
service from Palermo to Messina, Catania, and Syracuse. Cuffaro (tel. 091-616 15 10) links Palermo in the north with Agrigento in the south. Etna Trasporti (tel. 095-530396) travels between Catania and Piazza Armerina and between Catania and Taormina. Interbus (tel. 095-53 62 01) has service between the cities of Catania, Messina, Taormina, and Syracuse.
Tickets for city buses are to be purchased before boarding and must be validated once you get on. If you do not validate the ticket, you can be fined. Tickets are generally purchased at ticket booths, tobacco shops (tabacchi), or newspaper kiosks. Most city buses charge € .75 (90¢) for a ticket whose validity lasts 60 to 90 minutes. Sometimes a city will offer a 24-hour transit
ticket that can save you money if you plan to use the bus network extensively.
The main railway lines go south from Messina to Catania and Syracuse, and west from Messina to Palermo. Secondary lines connect Termini Imerese with Agrigento and Palermo with Trapani, Marsala, Mazara, Sciacca and Castelvetrano. The Circumetnea is a privately run railway line that circumnavigates Mount Etna.
Train fares are generally affordable. Trains are operated by the Italian State Railways, called Ferrovie dello Stato (FS). For more information or to buy tickets, search the website at www.trenitalia.it.
Ferrovie dello Stato
Via Roma, 19
Phone: (091) 617 02 24
Fax: (091) 617 66 91
There are two main types of train service in Sicily: national trains (Eurostar and InterCity) and local trains (Diretto, Espresso, and Interegionale). Eurostar and InterCity trains usually are faster than the slower Diretto, Espresso, and Interegionale trains, as they stop at every almost station. The national trains connect the main Italian cities, while the local trains connect
the smaller towns.
If you are not an Italian resident, you can purchase a Trenitalia
Pass. It is an offer allowing travel in first or second class on all Trenitalia trains in Italy for either 4-10 consecutive days or for non-consecutive days in a 2-month period.
The Trenitalia Pass is available in 3 types:
1) Basic: both 1st and 2nd class for adults (children ages 4 to 12 have a 50% reduction)
2) Youth: for customers from 12 to 26 traveling in 2nd class
3) Saver: both 1st and 2nd class, for small groups made up of 2 to 5 persons.
A supplement must be paid to ride on certain rapid trains, designated
ETR-450 or Pendolino trains. You can purchase all of these passes
from a travel agent or by calling Rail Europe at (877) 257-2887.
Second-class travel usually costs about two-thirds the price of a first-class ticket. The InterCity trains are modern, air-conditioned trains that make limited stops. An IC couchette (private fold-down bed in a communal cabin) requires the payment of a supplement. Children 4 to 11 receive a discount of 50% off the adult fare, and children 3 and under travel free with a parent.
Seniors and travelers under 26 can also purchase discount cards. Seat reservations are highly recommended during peak season and on weekends or holidays and must be reserved in advance.
Taxi rates are generally pricey. The meter usually starts at € 3.05 and then charges you € 2.25 for the first kilometer, plus another € .80 per kilometer thereafter. There are supplements of € 2.60 from 10pm to 7am and on holidays; € .50 for each suitcase. Depending on the size of the taxi, four or as many as five passengers are allowed. Taxis are found at all airport arrival
terminals. In some cities, they can be called. When you reserve by phone, the taxi meter goes on when the taxi pulls out of his station. A supplement for the call is also charged (about € 1.50 = $1).
Most Sicilian cities have bike-rental firms. Rentals in cities start at about € 8 a day or € 30 a week. Bikes are transported free on Sicilian ferries, but you must pay an extra € 7 to carry them on most trains.