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On my own again: Acireale

The reason I decided to visit Acireale is because 25 years ago, a kind woman on the train I was taking to Taormina helped me with directions for getting to the area where my hotel was located. She got off in Acireale, saying that it was a small, nice town.

It must be something in the water. I called my B&B host from the train station and asked how to get to the B&B. "I'll come and get you!" She was so friendly on the phone, and even more so in person. As we approached the B&B, she apologized for the exterior, which had the same faded-glory look as the other buildings on the street. She owns the building, and installed an elevator. It was very slow, and exterior to the building courtyard. As we got off, she pointed to a door next to the B&B entrance and said, "I live here, so if you need anything, I am always around." The room was huge, with a modern bathroom and a jet-shower. The cost, with breakfast, was €31 per night, single. Breakfast was abundant, and served to the guests. I asked her, after the first breakfast, to limit mine to coffee, one egg (she served two), a roll (three were in the basket), a yogurt and a slice of cheese (three on the plate, plus ham and salami). She thought this was too little, I thought it was still a lot! At checkout, I expected to,pay €105 (as agreed in the reservation), but she discounted the total down to €93.

I accepted her offer of coffee, she showed me the breakfast room, and gave me a map and enough restaurant suggestions for a week! I went out to look around. The street looked a little sketchy at first, but then I realized that the daily neighborhood market had just closed for the day, which explained the water and bits of debris. On my way back later, the street had been swept and hosed with water. I found my way to the Main Street and a small Piazza, and was immediately confronted by a larger than life-size caricature sculpture of the globe surrounded by the G7 leaders, each with minute detail and easily recognizable. The Trump figure had rather small hands.

I went across the street to a caffe to contemplate this tribute to the conference, held a couple of weeks before in Taormina, just up the road.

Then I noticed a lot of people standing in front of the open door of the cathedral. I thought it was a lot of people to be waiting for a bus. Maybe a wedding? But this wasn't Saturday, the traditional day for weddings, and there was no sign of a wedding party. Then I noticed their business-type clothing, women wearing hats - and the hearse. A funeral. I saw the expressions on the faces of the generations of people gathered. I thought of what a privilege it is to travel, to see customs observed in a different country and still understand the common thread of love, loss, and grief. I thought about the loved one who had died, and who was being celebrated, loved, and mourned by family, neighbors and friends. Yes, a privilege to be part of this experience, even from a distance.

The group followed the slow-moving hearse, many people walking, to say goodbye and Godspeed at the cemetery.

Posted by
929 posts

Beautiful story, Zoe. So glad you are enjoying Acireale. What a great price for your room and breakfast.

Posted by
1854 posts

What a lovely, touching story. I love everything about travel (practically-do not like to fly....) but most of all those small, meaningful moments in time. Your stay in Acireale sounds like another wonderful opportunity to meet special people and I admire you for your being so open to those opportunities. The "common thread" comment, so true. I heard/read this somewhere again recently: "We have more in common than that which divides us." and it has really stuck with me. Oh, and by the way....not to get political, but I also love the "small hands" comment-made me laugh out loud :)

Posted by
16996 posts

Thanks for your report. I haven't been to Acireale, but it was recommended to me by a local I met in Palermo. I hope to get there on my next visit to Sicily, whenever that may be. I don't think many tourists go there; it sounds like my sort of place.

Posted by
9447 posts

And I have another stop to add to my eventual return to Sicilia!

Posted by
4522 posts

Hi Zoe,
Thanks for sharing such a touching story.

My bucket list keeps growing...

Posted by
679 posts

Thanks Zoe
I have never thought about Sicily but it may be going into my growing European list.

Posted by
1804 posts

Hi Zoe -- We were thinking of stopping in Acireale for two nights next spring between arriving in Catania and going to Milazza. Would you be willing to share the name of your B&B? I'm having trouble finding something in the center, near the market, as you described. We won't have a car so parking is not an issue. Thanks!

Posted by
11613 posts

Charlene, the B&B is San Sebastiano Holidays, Deborah is the owner. She will meet you at the station. The market nearby is food only, but there are probably others elsewhere. There's a nice shopping street that begins near the Duomo.

If you need a budget hotel in Milazzo, Hotel Petit is very near the port.

Posted by
1804 posts

Ah ... it's sold out on Booking.com for our two nights. I did find a great-looking apartment right in front of the duomo, on the square --
Appartamenti Piazza Duomo Acireale - which I have booked. No breakfast but a wonderful location. I will try contacting San Sebastiano directly to see if she has vacancies that don't appear on booking.com. I'm surprised at the number of places that are booked up for April 2018!!

We had already found Hotel Petit in Milazzo. Thanks for that. I've enjoyed following your trip through Sicily and we're looking forward to ours next spring!

Posted by
11613 posts

Charlene, I am sure your apartment will be very nice if San Sebastián is full. Enjoy your stay!