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How to get from Rome to Sicily
Craving some sun and sand after exploring the brick and marble of the Eternal City? Why not head down to Sicily? There are multiple options for reaching the island, so I wrote this post for you to decide how to get from Rome to Sicily based on your travel preferences and budget..
Why visit Sicily?
It’s no secret that I love Sicily. It may be the place in Italy that I’ve visited most.
Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean sea. Historically, it has been a crossroads for many different cultures, including Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans, French, Spanish, and others.
You can still visit incredibly well-preserved Greek temples and theaters, along with Roman mosaic floors. Some of the food that is most strongly associated with Sicily, namely, lemons, oranges, and pistachios, are part of the island’s food culture thanks to the Arabs who brought them there.
All of the cultures that have inhabited the island have left their mark on it in some way. Like any place of great beauty, Sicily leaves its mark on you, too.
The sensory experience of the island is sublime. It makes you wish you had a greater physical capacity to absorb the sights and sounds, and a greater mental capacity to store each taste on your tongue, each wave that rushes over your toes, every single memory, and keep them all vivid forever.
Sitting on a pebbly beach in Siracusa, the wind rushes off the water and envelopes you in sweet relief from the hot sun. The sound of the waves lapping gently at the shore entices you in for a swim.
The salty water lifts you up and washes away the heat of the day as you float on your back and gaze up at a cloudless sky that glows blue.
The houses on the streets of Marzamemi are the colors of the pebbles on the beach – pearly gray, sandy beige, peachy pink.
Bright purple, magenta, orange, and red flowers tumble over crumbling walls, pouring their bold colors down towards the street and up to the sun and sky.
Those same colors show up nightly for a brilliant, rainbow-colored sunset.
The sounds of the fish market in Catania rouse you from a deep slumber in the morning. You hear the fishermen advertising their catches in dialect. Bursts of laughter often follow their calls.
The food – oh, the food – is enough to leave you speechless. Your meals are full of tender, rich bites of tuna, swordfish, and just about every other seafood imaginable, fried, grilled, or sautéed.
Once you’ve had your fill of seafood, you can move onto dense, satisfying arancini. Or savory pizzas with thick crusts, mozzarella and perfect, plump cherry tomatoes. How about a crispy cannoli filled with creamy ricotta, or some sweet, soft almonds and crunchy pistachios? Citrusy, quenching lemon granita is a perfect start to the day. And don’t forget to enjoy several glasses of Nero d’Avola or chilled, white Grillo.
You stop for a pastry and a cappuccino on your first day and chat to the owner of the bar. The next day he calls out to you and waves as you cross the piazza.
You can admire the natural beauty of the Scala dei Turchi, a white cliff that rises up from a sandy beach outside of Agrigento, and then admire the man-made beauty of the remains of seven Greek temples, just down the road from that very same beach.
Visit Mount Etna, see the smoke rising from its angry mouth, notice the variety of colors that can be found dusting the black earth.
Each time I visit the island, I grow more enchanted by the blues of the sky and water, the thrumming cities and the tranquil beaches.
Have I convinced you to visit Sicily on your next Italian vacation? I hope so! Here’s everything you need to know about getting from Rome to Sicily.
Getting from Rome to Sicily by plane
There are two airports in Rome: Fiumicino (FCO) and Ciampino (CIA). Fiumicino is the larger of the two. There are more direct flights to Sicily from Fiumicino, but there are also a few direct routes from Ciampino, which I’ve detailed below.
How many airports are there in Sicily?
There are six airports in Sicily. Four of them are on the island itself.
Palermo Punta Raisi (PMO)
I haven’t been to Palermo in many years, but I remember sandy buildings and palm trees, a nice city beach (Mondello), fun bars, and beautiful markets.
Catania Fontanarossa (CTA)
Catania is one of my favorite cities. I’ve been several times, and I hope to go again several more.
I have visited in summer and winter, and have found Catania to be enjoyable in both seasons. When I went in February one year, it happened to be sunny and warm, but note that it can get rainy then.
Catania has an energy that I find unique. The center is walkable, and I’ve had some incredible food there, too.
It’s a great jumping off point for exploring Sicily’s east coast, including Mount Etna.
You can also easily hop on a train to nearby Siracusa or Noto, two other towns I’m in love with, or Taormina, which is also stunning and worth a visit (although I am personally less in love with it than Catania, Siracusa, or Noto).
Trapani Birgi (TPS)
Located in Sicily’s west, Trapani is a beach town between Marsala and San Vito Lo Capo. It’s a great starting point for visiting either of those, with Marsala being known for its fortified wine of the same name, and San Vito Lo Capo boasting some of the island’s best beaches.
It’s also a departure point for ferries that go to the Aegadian Islands (also known as Egadi), which, after reading this article, you’re going to want to visit if you’re anything like I am.
Comiso, located in the Val di Noto, is known for its Baroque churches, as are nearby Ragusa, Scicli, Modica, and Noto. All of these cities and a few others were severely damaged in a massive earthquake that struck the island in 1693. When rebuilding, the architectural style of the time replaced older structures.
If you visit Modica, sample the city’s famous chocolate. It has very little cocoa butter and is cold pressed, meaning that the sugar doesn’t dissolve, so it’s got some crunch in every bite.
You should also put Noto on your itinerary, and make sure you have breakfast at Caffè Sicilia while you’re there.
There are daily flights from Fiumicino to all four of the above-mentioned airports in Sicily.
The other two airports are on smaller islands that are technically in the region of Sicily. Pantelleria (PNL) is part of the province of Trapani, and Lampedusa (LMP) is part of the province of Agrigento.
Closer to Tunisia than Sicily itself, Pantelleria is known for its natural beauty. The island is home to a thermal lake called the mirror of Venus that fills the mouth of an ancient volcano. You can enjoy the warm water and give yourself a mud bath.
You can fly from Fiumicino to Pantelleria on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and you can fly from Ciampino on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
If you are into marine life, Lampedusa would be a great place to visit. It’s home to dolphins and turtles, and is known for having some of the most beautiful beaches in Italy.
There are direct flights from Fiumicino to Lampedusa every other day – Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There are daily flights from Ciampino to Lampedusa daily, but the routes are convoluted.
Which airlines fly from Rome to Sicily?
Two airlines fly directly from Rome to Palermo: ITA (Italy’s new national airline) and RyanAir.
RyanAir is a low-cost airline, so the tickets can be very cheap, but don’t forget to factor in that you have to pay for just about everything (a carry-on or checked bag, snacks, an assigned seat, etc.).
ITA and RyanAir also fly directly from Rome to Catania and Trapani.
RyanAir flies directly from Rome to Comiso every day except Sunday during the low season, but they also fly there on Sundays during the summer.
How long is the flight from Rome to Sicily?
The flight time from Rome to Sicily varies slightly depending on the airport you’re flying into, but they all come in at just over an hour (65-70 minutes).
How to get from Rome to Sicily by car
You can rent a car and drive down the boot, but there is no bridge that connects Sicily to the mainland, so you’ll have to take a ferry. You can take one of the long ferries (more on that below), or drive all the way to Reggio Calabria and take a shorter one to Messina.
How long does it take to drive from Rome to Sicily?
Driving to Reggio Calabria from Rome takes about 7 hours, and the ferry to Messina is only 25 minutes.
According to the Via Michelin, fuel and tolls for the trip would come in at about 75.
How to get from Rome to Sicily by ferry
If you’re wondering how to get from Rome to Sicily by ferry, the answer is simple: you can’t – you’ll have to depart from one of the port cities listed below. Note that there are other points of departure in Italy, but I’ve focused on the two closest to Rome.
Where do the ferries to Sicily leave from?
There’s one ferry company with service from Civitavecchia to Palermo – Grandi Navi Veloci. GNV runs two routes: one that arrives in the port known simply as “Palermo,” and the other as “Palermo Termini Imerese”.
The service to Palermo runs once a day, and the service to Palermo Termini Imerse runs five times a day.
How long is the ferry from Civitavecchia to Palermo?
The ferry from Civitavecchia to Palermo lasts about 15 hours.
How much does the ferry cost?
The prices of ferry tickets vary according to the season and time of booking, as well as whether or not you bring a car.
Grandi Navi Veloci also operates a route from Naples to Palermo 10 times a week. Another company, Tirrenia, runs 9 times a week.
How long is the ferry from Naples to Palermo?
The ferry from Naples to Palermo takes about 12 hours.
Getting from Rome to Sicily by ferry with a car
Many people opt to take a vehicle onto the ferry to Sicily. The perk is that you can get off the ferry and take off to wherever your heart desires!
Of course, taking a car along will increase the cost of the trip substantially.
Getting from Rome to Sicily by train
Yes, you can take a train from Rome to Sicily! The trains are put onto a ferry to cross the Strait of Messina.
The times and fares differ depending on the routes taken and the time of booking, but you can get from Rome to Palermo, Messina, Catania, Cefalù, Siracusa, and some other smaller spots in between.
How long is the train ride from Rome to Sicily?
It takes between 10 and 11 hours to get from Rome to Catania and between 12 and 13 hours to get to Palermo on the train routes with the fewest changes.
How much is A train ticket from Rome to Sicily?
Again, it varies depending on the date of travel and the date of booking. At the time of writing, a ticket for one month from the search date for one person cost about 83 for a ticket from Rome to Palermo, and around 90 for a ticket from Rome to Catania. Note that these prices were for the most straightforward routes – if you’re willing to make multiple changes, you’ll save money (and even some time).
What’s the cheapest way to get from Rome to Sicily?
You can get good deals on RyanAir flights, but probably not in the high season. The cheapest option is probably by train (a quick search turned up some fares for as little as 41), although it takes way longer, of course.
What’s the most convenient way to get from Rome to Sicily?
Definitely by plane. The shorter travel time means that you can enjoy more of the island and all it has to offer!
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