Spectacular self-drive tour around sicily - 14-day itinerary, Italy - Aug 10 - Aug 31, 2018
We had a terrific experience working with KimKim. There were some glitches and problems along the way, but the fact that we had a cell phone number to call and that someone ALWAYS answered the telephone and assisted us immediately made a huge difference in our feeling that we did not have to resolve the issue on our own. The hotels that were booked through KimKim were fine, and without exception the staff at the hotels, many of which were family-run, were kind and helpful. Regarding the guides: the only one who was questionable was the person in Palermo. Although knowledgeable, he was on his phone way too much during our time together. All of the others were friendly, took their job very seriously, and had much to offer. They had great pride in being Sicilian and that was great to see. It made a big difference to be able to just arrive at a location and know that someone was waiting for us and that we did not have to first try to hire someone ourselves. They all (except for the Palermo guide) spoke about the importance of being a professional guide and their concern for quality of service.
Carmelo, Alessandra and Ketty were great. Without repeating myself, we also greatly appreciated how Ketty handled our situation in Lipari. We arrived there not realizing that the hotel we had booked for a week was at the far end of the island, the staff there not particularly pleasant - we had to wait almost an hour for them to pick us up at the ferry despite repeated calls, the beach narrow and all big stones, and that the only way to get to the town was by a bus that ran once an hour and stopped at 7:00 pm. Otherwise, we would have to take taxis at 35 euro each way. There were no cars to be rented. Ketty was wonderful, she booked us into a beautiful hotel 10 minutes walk from Lipari, with a swimming pool which we used daily, and easy access to everything in town. She took care of cancelling the week at Hotel Cutimare and KimKim absorbed the additional cost of the Hotel Tritone, and so the whole situation was hassle-free for us.
The only other inconsistency in the trip was that we drove from Trapani to Agrigento and saw the Greek ruins. The following day you had scheduled us to go to Selimunte, but that would have been at least a 1.5 hour trip each way back to where we had just come from, and we ended up cancelling that excursion. It would have been much better to do these 2 excursions in reverse order.
We really enjoyed every aspect of the trip - probably least favorite was Palermo - the garbage was overwhelming- but the hotel was fine and the sites remarkable. We brought too much stuff - we did not realize that none of the places we stayed would have elevators and our suitcases were heavy, so in the future I would pack much lighter and find laundry places to wash our clothes. it would have been helpful to know in advance that there are no elevators. In Cefalu we had a problem with the taxi not coming to take us to the airport, and it seemed - if we understood right, that it was coming from Palermo - it would probably have been better to hire a local taxi that was not affected by traffic, as we almost missed our plane - but again, Ketty helped us through that.
We also stayed at some wonderful places that you did not book:
La Serenita outside of Noto
Ai Lumi in Trapani
Agriculturismo Casa di Basso outside of Agrigento
and we highly recommend that you explore them for other travelers.
The food was unbelievable - we did not have a bad meal the entire trip. The cooking school was fun. The trip to Mt Etna was great, as was the day-long excursion to Stromboli. We also took a boat to Vulcano one day. We went to a lot of beaches of all kinds, also to Modica and Ragusa, and did much "offbeat" things. At the B&B La Serenita, a woman who works there is also an aspiring chef of typical food, and she invited us to her cava in the mountains and prepared us a wonderful meal.
Thank you again for all your assistance and mostly especially for being available throughout our trip.
Allyson and Bruce