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Bed & Breakfasts and Unique Accommodation in Sicily
Here in Italy the phrase bed and breakfast (or B&B) has a specific meaning (discussed below), though our unique list also includes options such as apartment rentals and aristocratic estates that defy simple classification as "bed and breakfasts." Searching websites, you'll find hundreds of choices around Sicily. We've selected a few of the best based on comfort, convenient location, service, atmosphere (we're partial to historic properties) and hospitality (on the part of the owners). Following the city listings are country bed and breakfasts (guest farm is too vague a term for those we've selected). Our growing list is unbiased because, not being a rental agency, Best of Sicily has no commercial association with any bed and breakfast, villa, cottage or rental property (although a few owners occasionally advertise on this website) and the following are not paid listings. You may find that reserving directly with an owner is a natural, enjoyable part of the bed and breakfast (or property rental) experience. Consult the establishments' websites (indicated after each listing) for further information. Emailing is the easiest way to confirm availability for specific dates. In contacting an owner, you might mention that you found their bed and breakfast on Best of Sicily. (You'll find info on villas and cottages on another page.) The service on our HOTEL PAGE (Booking.Com) also offers bed & breakfasts. Enjoy your stay.
• Palazzo Conte Federico. accommodations in a medieval tower in the center of the historic district. Via dei Biscottari 4. Tel. +39 091 651 1881 or +39 339 821 6259. ConteFederico.com
• Chez Jasmine. Charming accommodations (with a minimum stay of 3 nights) in the colourful Kalsa district near the corner of Via Alloro and Via Torremuzza. Vicolo dei Nassaiuoli 15 (off Via dei Nassaiuoli). Tel. +39 091 616 4268 or +39 338 632 5192. ChezJasmine.biz
• Antica Profumeria. Good location in the historical district. Via Erasmo Merletta 19. Tel. +39 095 093 3076 or +39 329 917 9720. bbAnticaProfumeria.it
• Itaca. In a Baroque palazzo the Ortygia district. Piazza Archimede 2. Tel +39 0931 483 021 or +39 331 334 3721. ItacaInn.it
• Oikos. Located in the Ortygia district in a historic building. Via delle Carceri Vecchie 21. Tel +39 0931 483 073. bbOikos.it
• Sweet Home. With its great views of the Ionian Sea, and its location a five-minute walk outside the Messina Gate (Porta Messina) off the road leading into town, this is an exceptional choice. Via Guardiola Vecchia 2-B. Tel. +39 338 231 4165. bbSweetHome.com
• Villa Floresta. Nice atmosphere and good location. Via Damiano Rosso 1. Tel. +39 0942 620184 or +39 331 708 0115. VillaFloresta.it
• Giulia. Good location in the center of town. Via D.H. Lawrence 11. Tel. +39 0942 626025 or +39 340 189 3024. BedandBreakfastGiulia.com
• Sabbia d'Oro. Modern structure in San Leone district outside town, not far from beaches. Via Nettuno 19. Tel. +39 331 508 6842. SabbiadOro.ag.it
• Tarantola. Winery estate in the rolling hills between Alcamo and Camporeale off the SP 10 road. Tel +39 329 271 3073. GorgodelDrago.it
• Villa Farlì. An aristocratic estate outside Scicli in the hills of Ragusa - the Hyblaean Mountains - in southeastern Sicily, in the Contrada Piani district of Sampieri, not far from enchanting beaches. Tel. +39 339 303 6093. VillaFarli.net
Most travel services are reasonably easy to define. Some aren't. "Bed and breakfast" is one of the latter. Here's how one popular source describes bed and breakfasts:
"Bed and Breakfast (or "B&B") is a phrase, originating in the UK and US but now in general use, describing an establishment that provides overnight accommodation and then breakfast, but usually does not offer other meals. In most cases, bed and breakfasts are private homes with fewer than five bedrooms available for paying guests. Typically, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Often, the owners themselves prepare breakfast and maintain the rooms. A property which hires professional management is not considered a bed and breakfast, but rather an inn, guest house or small hotel."
Accepting this definition made sense to the Italian government agencies which regulate bed and breakfasts in Sicily and other parts of Italy. In fact, a number of bed and breakfasts have sprung up around Sicily, especially in larger cities like Palermo, Catania, Messina and Siracusa, offering visitors a lodging choice that is more inviting, and usually less expensive, than a hotel or pensione (the Italian word for a very cheap guest house). A "self-catering" villa or cottage is usually rented for a week or more and the owners don't live there.
True hospitality begins at home. Italian law makes it clear that to qualify as a bed and breakfast (the English term is used) an establishment must be part of a residential dwelling where the owner actually lives for at least ten months of each calendar year. Here, alas, is where things get tricky.
In 2008 Palermo's tourism regulating agency conducted an extensive "spot check" of dozens of bed and breakfasts throughout that city of almost a million. What did they find? Not the owners but low-paid help who had been instructed to explain (to guests as well as inspectors) that the homes' owners were "away" on holiday or even on extended, month-long vacations.
Hence the first warning about Sicilian bed and breakfasts. Unfortunately, it's not the last.
One of the problems with Sicily's bed and breakfasts is that so many are located in dreary, anonymous, high-rise apartment buildings built during the last seventy years or so. In principle, this need not dissuade you, but these places certainly lack character compared to what your expectations of a cozy family home may be.
That's really the whole idea of bed and breakfasts --charm and the human element. If these are not present then you may as well stay in a small hotel. Here I must frankly admit to a strong preference toward the more historically and architecturally appealing properties operated by owners who truly understand this uniqueness and can convey the feeling to you, their guest. My wife and I have been to Sicily three times and, personally, I find the history and culture endlessly interesting. The last two visits we stayed exclusively at bed and breakfasts.
What is appealing about some of Sicily's bed and breakfasts is that they're located in historically interesting areas where you can see the sights while getting to know the "real" Sicily, or just make your way to a beach. That said, there is a certain "bed-and-breakfast lifestyle" that appeals to some more than others. It's an approach that's compatible with a leisurely pace which permits genuine exploring rather than superficial sightseeing or vacationing. If you're accustomed to four-star hotels with 'round-the-clock service, and reluctant to renounce that kind of accommodation, staying in a bed and breakfast may not be for you. That's not to say that bed and breakfast accommodations are at all spartan --far from it.
When the owners are present (as they should be), bed and breakfasts offer the advantage of allowing you direct contact with "locals" whose knowledge of their city is probably better than what you can presume from hotel employees. Call it "local perspective" that makes you feel as though you've really found a piece of Sicily, almost like your own niche. This contrasts sharply to most hotels. Very few Sicily-based hotels have real concierges, and many hotel staff spend little free time in the areas of the hotels where they work, so they're not always very helpful.
While the relatively low price is a traditional appeal of bed and breakfasts, today there is no firm rule that every bed and breakfast must be cheaper than every hotel. Better bed and breakfasts, such as the ones in historical homes or those offering extra services (things like little kitchens or laundry service) may cost just as much as some hotels. Some bed and breakfasts are actually small but comfortable apartments.
Let's say that you usually get what you pay for. Most of the time, a B and B that charges just 40 euros per night per person won't be nearly as good as one that charges more than double that price. While keeping this generality in mind, remember that the establishment must stand on its own two feet in terms of quality. If the rates are at the higher end of the scale, ask if there's a discount if you'll be staying more than two nights, but work this out in advance (when you reseve), either by email or by phone.
Remember that a "continental" breakfast is the norm in Italian establishments. Usually, this is a crescent roll and a cup of coffee or juice. Also, the better bed and breakfasts work exclusively based on reservations but do not accept credit cards.
In selecting a bed and breakfast, location (near interesting sights or an inviting beach) and convenience (being easy to get to) are both important, but try to get a feeling for the atmosphere and also the owners --even if your research is being done on-line. This is a situation where personality is an important consideration. Quality among bed and breakfasts varies greatly no matter where you are, and in Sicily this seems to be doubly true.
In Italy, bed and breakfasts are essentially a city phenomenon, though some are located in small towns. In Sicily the rural counterpart is the "guest farm," known in Italy as agriturismo.
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