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Sicily hotels..brief report of a great trip and one bad experience

Sicily hotels..brief report of a great trip and one bad experience

Old May 10th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Sicily hotels..brief report of a great trip and one bad experience

We just returned from one week in Sicily and I thought I would post my opinions of the hotels we stayed in. We arrived on Sunday, took the airport bus to Teatro Politeama and walked to the Hotel Joli on Piazza Florio. This was a friendly, small hotel in an excellent location. Rooms are small and fairly basic, though; ours had a terrace overlooking the park outside. HOWEVER: Five minutes after we checked in, I went down to reception to ask for a map of the city. I was alone in the lobby with the female receptionist. A man with a knife walked and proceeded to rob the hotel money drawer, along with my wallet with all my money and credit cards!!!! Not a good beginning. Police were called and were very accommodating at the staion but nothing they could do after the fact!!!!! I am reporting this not to bad-mouth the hotel or the city but to warn travelers that they should be alert at ALL times to possible trouble and perhaps choose a hotel with security at the front door! This happened at 3pm on a Sunday which was a national holiday so few people were around. The city of Palermo does not seem threatening and in no way should travelers be put off the city due to my experience. I was quite taken aback, however, when upon checking out, the guy at the desk asked for my address so he could send me a bill for the two nights I stayed there!!

We then picked up our Avis VW and drove two hours or so to Agrigento, where we spent one night at the Colleverde Park Hotel in a decent sized but not visually appealing room with a view of the temples. I believe the price was $170 euro with a spartan breakfast. The hotel staff are most friendly and, in contrast to the Joli in Palermo, English was spoken by some of the staff. Having read some dismal reports of hotels in Agrigento, we were pleased if not thrilled by the Colleverde Park. The site is a marvel and was not overrun by tourists after mid-day. There is parking for a small fee at the site, which is a few minutes drive from the Colleverde Park. There is an excellent restaurant across the street from the hotel, Trattoria dei Templi.

At Siracusa we spent two nights in a wonderful hotel, the Domus Mariae. Our room with a terrace overlooking the water, cost $150 euro and was by far the nicest of the trip..the hotel is impeccably clean; rooms are modern with sparkling bathrooms and comfy beds. This is truly a lovely hotel and Cinzia, the lay person at the front desk (the hotel is owned by an order of Ursaline nuns) is an Italian-American wonder, exceedingly helpful with an excellent sense of humor. Try to get one of the waterfront rooms if possible; they are worth the extra charge. Parking is free in an open lot outside the hotel.
At our last stop, Taormina (a pretty town overrun by tourists) we stopped at Villa Belvedere in a double room with a tiny terrace and view of the sea and Mt. Etna. This is an older hotel with a handsome exterior and lots of charm with an attentive and helpful English-speaking staff. The room was not attractive, but it was functional, as was the bathroom; the view is the thing here. The hotel has a parking lot outside and charges 6.50 Euro per day. Price of the double room with sea view was, I believe, $175 euro with a fairly good breakfast. There is a beautiful pool area dripping with flowers, overlooking the sea. The hotel is a ten minute walk (with hills) to the main street, Corse Umberto. There are two nearby restaurants and a small market within two level blocks. The hotel will arrange a taxi to Catania airport for 80 euro; alternatively there is an airport bus for about 10 Euro per person but the timing of the bus is not always adequate for flight connections.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 02:41 PM
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What a frightening experience in Palermo, I am so sorry to hear of that!

Did you actually have the impression the man would have done you harm if you had not complied? I only ask because true violent crime is so rare in Europe... though that may not be the case in Sicily.
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Old May 10th, 2005, 04:55 PM
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It happened so fast, the wallet was in my hand and he grabbed it. No, I do not think he would have hurt me if he had not been able to pry it out of my hands. But who knows??? The receptionist seemed terrified; I kept screaming and she kept telling me to be quiet!!!!!! But you are right, violent crime is indeed rare in Europe, including Sicily, at least against tourists!!!
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Old May 12th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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ttt
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Old May 16th, 2005, 03:45 AM
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Thank you for an interesting trip report. So glad your terrifying experience right after arriving didn't put you off Sicily. I've noted your Siracusa hotel which sounds very good : last time there we stayed at the Grand which was very nice but I missed being able to sit outside.
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Old May 24th, 2005, 04:53 PM
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Good gracious! What a way to start a trip. I'm glad you are okay. I'm very impressed that you did not let the bad experience ruin the rest of the trip for you.
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