Palermo, SICILY

Palermo, SICILY

Well, here we are … lying on sun loungers overlooking the Tyrrhenian sea on the North coast of Sicily. This is our first holiday of 2018 and it is a break away doing a hotel review before we head off on our road trip of Europe.
I kinda like this lifestyle and hope we can get it going full time soon. Lots to learn still, but we will keep on keeping on until we get there ….

We are staying in the Domina Zagarella Hotel, which is a 4*resort in Solanto in the Province of Palermo, previously owned by the infamous Salvo cousins of Mafia connections.
The view is spectacular … there is something about waking up to a view over the sea, watching all the fishing boats going about their business, in and out of the harbour, that just makes you feel good. Of course, all this gorgeous warm sunshine topping up the vitamin D levels helps too.
We took a walk yesterday along the rocks (well a bit of a clamber over rocks,broken walls,sand and unfortunately plastic rubbish)  to the side and front of the hotel to have a look at the derelict home of the Salvo cousins that is next door to the hotel.

The story goes that they were tax collectors for the Government of the time but had all the “right connections” in the Government to make them very valuable to mafia bosses. One of the cousins died from cancer and the remaining cousin, Ignazio was murdered at his home by the Mafia! Apparently the home, which has become this derelict building which fascinates Richard, was “taken into custody” in the investigation and could not be sold or used and so has fallen into this unkempt state and nothing can be done about it!
What a waste of what was obviously an amazing home … 2 stories of innumerable rooms, the floor partially covered now, in what was once beautiful Italian tiles, very upmarket wallpaper, a wonderful patio with steps leading down to the calm, clear sea for your daily swim and what must have been an amazing Mediterranean garden set on terraces going up the hill behind the house. Now stripped of most of its glory and been used as a party venue for the locals we guess by all the broken beer bottles and distasteful graffiti on the walls.
The feeling of this area of Sicily on the whole is a little rundown and unkempt, and feels poor but the people seem happy enough. Not that our Italian is any good mind, to be able to have that kind of discussion. Thank goodness for that wonderful translation app.
The hotel building is obviously pretty old but has been refurbished recently into this resort on a beautiful part of the coast of Sicily. The new owner has colour themed each floor with each colour being specific to its own theme e.g., blue for music, red for automotive etc. Very bright and dramatic!
The road leading up to and away from the resort in both directions is untidy and unkempt and not really suitable for walking comfortably and it certainly doesn’t forecast what you will step into when you walk through the doors. It is like entering a different world and obviously the intention of the owners is to get you there and keep you there for the duration of your stay. The outside areas are fantastic with 3 swimming pools, albeit only 2 operational while we were here, surrounded by beautiful, wonderfully scented gardens. There are relaxing areas of solitude with classic music playing in the gardens if you are into that. The sea is literally one level down from the lower pool deck with calm and clear water .. that was a tad chilly still in April but wonderfully refreshing after a walk.
To my mind, the location and view from the hotel and it’s fantastic outside areas are what this resort is all about and if spending time relaxing in the sunshine on great sun lounger and enjoying the pool bar is all you want, then this is a wonderful place to do it. As a 4* establishment it does however lack some of the finer things e.g. coffee/tea facilities the room are non existant, cocktails are expensive and don’t use the room service as the service charge is €10 a pop …no matter what you order. The other thing that is very off putting is the lack of pricing before you spend. There is a mini bar in each room but no prices on what each item costs. You would be forgiven for thinking this was a perk and free, but it is NOT! Again over priced, I think. There are surcharges on almost everything including being seated at the restaurant alongside the pool even before you order.
The staff are fantastic…extremely helpful, friendly and working around the hiccups of a new establishment still finding its feet.
So … essentially, a beautiful spot to unwind and relax, enjoying the weather and amazing views! Not sure if it is worth the inflated prices at this stage but hopefully some of the points made in the reviews will swing things and there will soon be some of the finer, extra items in place to improve the customer enjoyment. It is also a time share resort and I have to say that those prices are not bad at all and there are a number of Domina resorts around the world you can swap your weeks to, which can turn your 1 week into 3 or 4 holidays a year.
Most people staying here hired cars because of the “unfriendly” roads for walking but we are more adventurous and besides our seaside rock climbing visit to Portobello harbour on the first day, we also wandered up to the archeological site high up on the hills behind the town of Porticello. It is still actively being excavated. The views over the towns below from all sides at the top was magnificent. Well worth the climb of 1.8kms up that hill.
We are going off in the other direction this morning to visit Casteldaccia and an apparently great little Mediterranean restaurant on the sea front for lunch. More on this later ….

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