Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 2164: Owner, Holiday Home in Ortigia (Ref. #IT169)
1bed/1bath apartment in Siracusa, Sicily
May 3 - May 8, 2006, 5 nights
The apartment was a "townhouse" in the heart of historical Ortigia in a good location, close to everything on Ortigia, halfway between the bus station and the duomo. The bus station was only three blocks away (they were all short blocks), lots of really good restaurants within a five minute walk. It was down a narrow alley in the medieval city, so other buildings were very close but the area was fairly quiet considering the density. The area was convenient to everything.
You can walk everywhere on Ortigia, but this location was particularly convenient as the supermercato was only about two short blocks, the bus station three blocks, and the morning fish and vegetable market was about three blocks. The most exclusive "shopping area" for clothes, etc was one block. This area of Ortygia was loaded with restaurants and cafes, most of them quite reasonable.
The building was quite old, I believe 14th century but in good condition. It consisted of a bathroom, kitchen/living/dining area on the ground floor, a bedroom with king bed on the next floor, and a "laundry room" and outdoor terrace on the rooftop. There was no one above or below you to make noise and we never heard anyone to either side.
The outside sitting area was rather spartan and consisted of a table, four chairs, I believe an umbrella for shade and a charcoal grill. There was also a clothes line. It was rather cool, so we did not use the grill, but I did not see charcoal or lighter fluid. It would also have been two steep flights of steps to eat out there, but it was a nice place to sit to have a bottle of wine. The view was just the neighboring roof tops, nothing to write home about.
The furniture was decent and adequate, about what you usually get in a rental. The furniture was old and very "Sicilian" looking. Looked just like the pictures on the Internet. The apartment was clean.
The bed was very comfortable and firm. Neither of us complained about back aches after sleeping on it for five nights. The bedroom was a very nice size. One major drawback to the apartment was the bedroom was upstairs and the bathroom was on the ground floor, which was quite inconvenient in the middle of the night. The bathroom was adequate - typical small European shower, toilet, bidet and small sink.
The kitchen was more than adequate for cooking. There were plenty of pots and pans, dishes, etc. We only cooked breakfast here, but I believe it had a four burner stove although no oven. By the standards of other places I have rented, the refrigerator was quite large with a freezer compartment.
Problems or Bonuses
Everything looked pretty much the same as the pictures on the internet except there were no windows so the apartment was quite dark. What looks like a window on the pictures is really a square cut in the wall with a sea scene inserted and a florescent bulb over it to give the "illusion" of natural light. We spoke with some British ladies and their rental was the same so maybe this is a problem with a medieval building.
My only real problem with the apartment was the bathroom on the ground floor. To get downstairs from the bedroom, you had to step out onto a step, not a landing, in the pitch dark (remember no windows), with a handrail that did not go all the way up to the step you were stepping onto. We ended up leaving the bathroom light on all night to avoid any falls.
The townhouse was advertised as in a "quiet mews" and we found the bedroom to be very quiet (we are light sleepers). We never experienced a problem getting a good night's sleep from noise. That said, I don't believe the sofabed in the living room would be quiet enough. A couple times when I went to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I could hear people talking and shouting out on the main street (sound seems to carry and echo a lot when everything is stone). But, as I said, we did not have this problem at all in the bedroom upstairs.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked with the owners who are British, so no language problems. They were very prompt replying to all my emails and answered all my questions. We were charged $70/night for 5 nights in May, which I thought was much cheaper than the price listed in British pound sterling on the internet. They also accepted US dollars in a personal check. I sent them $100 to book in November, and the balance in March.
They have a Sicilian couple as the onsite managers who met us at the bus station on our arrival. They spoke adequate English, showed us the quirks in the apartment and answered any questions we had. They also connected us with a taxi driver to go to Pantalica, but even though they had negotiated the price for us beforehand (he spoke no English except he knew his numbers in English - 70, 80, etc.), he still demanded 10 euros more on completion of the trip, which we felt was a rip off. Upon our complaining to her, the manager did not seem to think this was a big deal. So beware.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would definitely recommend this apartment. As noted above, it was quiet to sleep, in an excellent location, and definitely good value for the money. My only qualification would be the steps down from the bedroom - if you have trouble with stairs, find something else.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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