Baglio di Piazza Armerina
Authentic Italy - Best-Value Lodgings - For Wine Lovers - Green Vacations
To visit Sicily and not to rent a car and drive across the island is to miss one of Italy's most interesting experiences. Thanks to excellent superhighways (which, unlike those north of Naples, are free of charge), you can zip from Palermo to Catania in a little over two hours. But that, too, is a shame, because the fun part is rambling along on the back roads, past the occasional farm village, which may not be as picture perfect as those you'll see in Tuscany, but which always has an ancient core and is inhabited by some of the sweetest people on earth. Stop anywhere in Sicily and ask for assistance and you will be met with kindness, patience and a sincere desire to help. Even though it has been invaded and mistreated by almost every civilization in the Western World for two thousand years, this island has elevated hospitality and courtesy to the status of a veritable cult.
As you meander along the deserted roads of central Sicily, you'll be treated to a succession of dramatic sights: rugged mountains, vast wheat fields (as emerald green as Ireland if you come in March - when temperatures may be in the high 70s), miles and miles of vegetable gardens that feed the entire nation. Less expected, perhaps, are the endless vineyards between Palermo and Agrigento, or lining the slopes of Mt. Etna, or the olive groves and cypress stands that indeed do look just like those in Tuscany. As you make your way eastward, between Enna and Piazza Armerina you will drive through a eucalyptus forest as dense and towering as any in Australia, and then you'll encounter what may be the most astounding sight of all: a veritable ocean of prickly pears - about 500 acres of them, to be exact - perhaps the largest prickly pear plantation in the world. This unique treasure belongs to your hosts Laura and Elio, owners of a beautifully restored 13th-century farmstead centered around a baglio, the typical Sicilian stone courtyard.
Do not come here if you are looking for white-gloved butlers or deferential uniformed concierges! This is a real place inhabited by real people with real day-to-day lives. You will certainly come to know your hosts' outgoing children Cristina and Giovanni. You will make the acquaintance of the friendly chef and waiters at the beautiful restaurant which now occupies the storerooms where grain and the fruit of all those prickly pears were once stored. You will meet Elio's father the patriarch, perhaps as he sits in the courtyard and oversees the restorations, his cane resting on the back of his chair. You will see the farmhands, or perhaps a group of local politicians having a working lunch, or a shy local beauty on her wedding day. Life goes on here pretty much as it has for centuries, and Laura's clean laundry is merely the most recent generation hanging from the upper-story windows on the rear of the house.
There are a few guestrooms in the baglio, but because of its lively nature we consider it less suitable for sleeping than the separate 17th-century farmhouse that sits about 100 yards away. The house faces east, so that on most days you can see Mt. Etna's snowy summit from many windows. There are six double rooms on two floors, each furnished with sturdy farm pieces, pretty double or twin wrought-iron beds, and local ceramic lamps, and each featuring its own brand-new bathroom with tile shower and hair dryer. Two of the rooms have one double bed and one single bed; one room has a double bed and two bunk beds; two rooms have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms; one room has a fireplace for cool winter evenings.This property makes a perfect place to stop on the way between eastern and western Sicily. You can easily spend a day at the Roman Villa of Piazza Armerina, whose mosaics are as fine as any you'll see in Pompeii. Drive into town for lunch and a post-prandial stroll through its interesting historic quarter. Also nearby are Caltagirone, a mecca for anyone wishing to bring home colorful ceramics; and Noto, the most perfect Baroque town in Italy. Or you can rent horses and take a ride through the plantation and adjacent rolling hills. Wherever you spend the day, you'll want to relax by the pool before you enjoy dinner at the restaurant, where all the food, even the wine and olive oil, is home-grown and organic, not to mention delicious. We wager you'll hate to leave, because a stay at the baglio is much more than a hotel booking: it is truly an introduction to a very special, ageold way of life.
For this property:
The pool is open June 1-October 1.
There is ample free parking on the property.
Dinner at the Baglio costs 25 to 80 Euro/person including beverages. If you are planning to dine there the first evening, we recommend you make reservations through In Italy Online in the unlikely event the restaurant has been booked by a private party.
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Please note that you need a car to stay here.It is not possible to guarantee Internet access at any property, because the property does not generate the service, it merely provides access from a server. If the server experiences any kind of problem at all, the property regrets it cannot be responsible for any inconvenience caused by subsequent lack of service.