If you'd like to bring your pet on your holiday, please consider the following:
Before you leave:
Your pet needs a (European) passport, which is provided by your Vet. He or she can also tell you which vaccinations your pet needs. Your dog, for instance, has to be vaccinated against rabies. In addition, an identification chip or tattoo is obligatory.
In the car:
In Italy, if you transport your dog, you are allowed to keep him/her in the back seat. If you are traveling with two or more dogs however, they have to be kept behind a gate or in a pet carrier. Do think about the general safety as this gate will prevent the dog from flying through the car should you need to brake quickly. Therefore, also consider using one, if you are travelling with just one dog. Keep in mind that the rules for transporting animals will be different in other countries, so please check the rules for the countries you will be passing through before your departure.
The temperature in Italy and especially in Sicily, is clearly warmer than in the north of Europe. So never leave your pet in the car when you are parked in the sun, not even for a couple of minutes! Besides this, make sure your dog or cat always has enough water to drink.
Pets are welcome in several hotels close to the highway. Check for instance the website of Accor hotels.
On the ferry:
Once on board, your dog or cat is not allowed in your cabin, which is why the ferries have special dog and cat cabins with several cages containing padlocks. You have to go to the reception to ask for a key to one of these locks. After paying a deposit of 5-10 Euros, you can take your pet to the upper deck where the cages are located.
There are only a few large cages, so if you are travelling with a big dog, ask for the key to the biggest cage they have!
There is no personnel to watch your pet, so you have to take care of the food and water.
Dogs can be walked on the upper deck, or parts of the upper deck identified by several signs.
Officially, your dog has to wear a muzzle. If you are like us and don't want to use the muzzle, at least bring one along. Normally the ferry's personnel is rather flexible when it comes to dogs not wearing muzzles, unless your dog is showing signs of unsocial behavior, of course...
Before leaving the boat you have to return both key and padlock to the reception, after which you will get your deposit back.
There are several good routes that will take you to Italy. There's no particular route better than another, it all depends on what you prefer.
Some helpful hints and things to consider: Should you pass through Switzerland or Austria, you will need a sticker. In Switserland, it is called Autobahnvignette, and can be ordered here and most likely via the tourist information centers in your country. The Autobahnvignette is valid for a year and one month.
In Austria, the sticker is called Mautvignette, which can be ordered most likely via the tourist information centers in your country. Austria has a slightly different system where you can buy stickers that are valid for 10 days, 2 months or one year (and one month).
If you have not placed the Autobahnvignette or Mautvignette on the inside of your windshield, you can purchase one at the border. This however, can take a lot of time, so it would be more convenient to purchase one in advance.
From the harbors of Genova, Livorno, Civitavecchia, and Naples you can take a ferry (nave) to Sicily. Once in the harbor, you will have to check in at the company's office. Here you will be directed to the location of the company where you've booked by several signs in the harbor area.
The time it takes to arrive in Sicily depends on the harbor you've chosen. We prefer the port of Civitavecchia, where you embark in the evening and arrive in Palermo the next morning.
There are several direct flights from airports all over Europe, but you can also choose an indirect flight through many major European airports. You can fly into both Palermo and Trapani, and from both airports you can quickly reach Balestrate.
Balestrate is situated between two airports: one is the Falcone-Borselino ( known also as Punta Raisi)Palermo airport (web site: www.gesap.it), the other one is Trapani Birgi airport(web site: http://www.aeroportotrapani.com).
On the highway you can reach Balestrate riding along the A29 Palermo-Trapani-Mazzara, exit Balestrate.The web site, in English. for the Italian motorway is: http://www.autostrade.it/en/index.html
By boat you can arrive on the harbors of Palermo (the harbors connected to Palermo are on this web site: http://www.ferriesonline.com/EN/index.taf) or Trapani ( on www.italtrag.com you can book a ferry from Livorno; that's a good and cheap way to travel if you want to visit Sicily in camper! )
The main civil airport of the province of Palermo is "Falcone - Borsellino" in Palermo - Punta Raisi, 35 km. from the city.
From there you can reach daily all the main italian and international cities.
The nearest ports are in Palermo (44 Km.) and in Trapani (55 Km.).
Balestrate is crossed by the highway 113 connecting Trapani to Messina. It is also close to the highway 186connecting Palermo to Partinico.
Balestrate is crossed by the motorway A29 connecting Palermo to Mazara del Vallo. It is also close to the branch of A29 connecting Alcamo to Trapani.
They are a freeways and have two lanes plus an emergency lane in both directions. There are no gas stations along the motorways, but it is easy to find fuel in any of the towns crossed by the same motorways.