Hello, my name is Arlene Antoinette Gibbs and I have a Sicily problem.
It’s bad. Every time I go, i wish I could stay longer. There’s so much of the island I haven’t seen yet, for example the entire West Coast, the interior, and other islands like Stromboli, Lampedusa, etc. etc.
This time I was on the island for a week, Mt. Etna then Ortigia, for vacation (and to celebrate my birthday).
“It’s good to back,” I said to Rosa, the newish manager, when I walked into the reception room at Monaci delle Terre Nere. Last year I wrote about Monaci and my first trip to the Sicilian mainland for FATHOM.
This time I stayed in the Floreale room.
The view from my balcony.
Lunch was served by the pool.
The first time I went to Monaci, it was raining and winter so I had no idea how spectacular the views were. The grounds are gorgeous.
The main villa at sunset. I would like to decorate a Sicilian villa one day.
One morning I jogged around the forty acre property. Most of the food served at Monaci comes from their organic gardens. There is a huge chicken coop. I hesitate to call it a coop. It’s more like a palace as it’s bigger than my apartment. Lucky chickens.
The breakfast spread was serious. On the other side were eggs, cheeses, salumi, cakes, breads, cereals, and many other things I didn’t have a chance to try.
I had to buy a jar of their honey. Fifteen percent of the honey made in Italy comes from this small town.
I had some great Sicilian wines. I love their aperitivi. Although there were more guests during this trip (the hotel was at full occupancy) fewer people went to the aperitivi. Perhaps they thought it wasn’t child appropriate?
Several rooms, located a few meters from the main house, have been renovated now. The atmosphere during high season was completely different from off-season. There were lots of families and half the tourists were American.
I had a moment with a fellow American guest who was so rude, it took my breath away. I believe I had a strong reaction to her snub because it was completely out of context. The vibe at Monaci is very friendly and chill. The owners, Guido and Ada, are lovely and as are the other people who work there. For this basic lady to not understand that said a lot about her.
As soon as I sat down with my book by the pool, I got over it. I was in a beautiful place and no one was going to put a damper on that.
A slight scent of Sicilian jasmine, and lavender filled the air. There were roosters in the background and sometimes the volcano “groaned”, loudly. It was very relaxing despite the sounds coming from Mt. Etna.
A grazie mille to Rosa, Sara, Federico, Nujuan, Salvatore, and of course Guido and Ada for helping make this the best birthday ever.
Note: My room was in the main villa and on the same floor as the kitchen. I’m an early riser, so I never heard a peep from the kitchen or from the downstairs reception area.
From Monaci, I went to Oritigia. This time I rented an apartment on the other side of the village. I couldn’t understand why it was cheaper than my place from last year. It had a terrace with a partial sea view.
It’s because that side of the town wasn’t completely regentrified, yet.
As you can see in the photos below, some of the buildings are derelict and the empty former prison is on the left. I liked being only two blocks away from the farmers market but can see how that might not be appealing.
I had to work a bit during my vacation but at least I had a view.
Love the old faded tiles on the right.
Before unpacking, I ran out to get pick up some yogurt, wine, and other important things. All of a sudden I heard my name and it was X, Erica’s daughter. Once again, without planning it, our apartments were only blocks away from each other.
The tiny piazza in front of my building at night.
The architecture here is incredible. Remember to look up.
My friends at Casa Mia wrote about Tabaré (Sicilian dialect for tray) and I had to check it out. It’s a must.
On my birthday we went to Arenella beach. We got there early and scored great beach chairs, second row. It was my first trip to a Sicilian beach and I had a great time. I love how people of all shapes and sizes rock bikinis and Speedos.
Later that night we went to dinner. In Italy when it’s your birthday and you invite people to celebrate with you, you pay. It makes sense to me. You’re the host. I have some American friends who really have an issue with this custom but it’s not just an Italian thing. In the Caribbean if you invite people out for your birthday, you pay. I get it if you’re in your early 20s and you meet at a bar or something. However, by your 40s/50s and up, the whole invite people to celebrate you and then expect them to pay is a little odd to me.
After dinner Erica insisted on treating me to a post dinner drink in the main piazza. This is probably one of my favorite churches and piazzas in Italy. It is ridiculously beautiful.
I was worked up about this birthday but in the end, it turned out to be a perfect day. Thank you, Ms. Firpo and Ms. Arya.
I’ve been back for less than two weeks and I’m already trying to figure out when I can return. I’m tempted to join one of my friends in Rome who has to go to there for work in October. Seriously.
Photos (except for the first two): me and my iPhone