Antichi Catoi B&B, Agrigento, Sicily
Agrigento, because of its world heritage site with the ancient city of Akraga at its base, and its extensive ancient Greek temples, all eighty-five hotels quickly fill. However, there are a few B&B’s which can make your stay more personally rewarding. We chose the Antichi Catoi B&B, and were exceptionally surprised by the fantastic room and the great service. We booked ahead online for a one-bedroom suite with breakfast included. Ninety Euros secured our room with a credit card, but for final payment they want it paid in cash. Our hostess, lovely Giuliana Camilleri, requested that we let her know when we would be arriving, so she could meet us and make sure we had a parking spot. Even though we were there before the high season, this hilltop town is already at capacity for parking just with its residents. Traffic is one way on many of its streets and there are some dead-ends. The B&B entry is located in the middle of a set of stairs between two streets, off of Via Vullo.
Once our parking was completed and Giuliana helped us with our suitcases into the B&B, we were astonished to find our room, called carretto, huge and very well appointed. A carretto is like a small handcart, but there is nothing small or simple about the room. Just up the stairs from the entry and breakfast room, is a formal living room and dining room that were available to us outside our suite. Inside our suite were a sitting room, a second lounge and living room, a private bathroom with tiled shower, and a very large bedroom. There were also multiple couches, a desk, an armoire for clothes with drawers, a flat screen TV, tables and chairs, and free Wi-Fi.
These multiple rooms are also furnished with oriental hanging lamps, long draping swag curtains to soften the golden washed plaster walls, large potted plants and hanging plants, and antique furnishings. A large dresser in the bedroom had a beautiful silver finish, and there were large and ornate gilded framed mirrors. As well, one room had a rock pediment embedded in one wall, a frescoed strip down another wall, and rustic Mediterranean art throughout the entire B&B. Giuliana’s uncle was the architect that designed the layout. He did a fantastic job with both updating the rooms with modern conveniences and with keeping an old-world look. Aside from thematic rooms in Las Vegas, which have no charm, this was the most elaborate room we had ever seen.
The bed is king-size with a thick cushion of softness on top of the mattress, and large soft pillows. Over the bed is mosquito netting, but must be just ornamental, as we did not see any mosquitoes. Not sure how there could be, as there are no windows to open, but a large central skylight that lets in plenty of natural light and has a vent which can be opened electronically to let in fresh air, and there were controls for air-conditioning in two different rooms. As the evening settles and again in the morning, there are cooing doves and pigeons somewhere above the skylight, that can be heard. Now and then tiny bits of fluff would make their way down between the fine screen holes of the skylight vent when open, but it was quite minimal. At night the bedroom with its cloud soft bed was a haven of comfort and the rooms are very quiet with no street noise. We slept long and well through the night; so important when traveling and active throughout each day.
Within the bedroom and well worth the wait to fill, was a huge blue-tiled Roman bath with a lion’s mouth spurting a second spout high up on the wall. It takes a good amount of time before the tub fills, as it is the biggest tub we had ever seen with its wide half circle partially sunken into the floor. For those who want to use the tub, use only the faucet located in the tub to fill it, and do not use the spigot that comes from the lion, at least not at first. The suite has a hot water heater that heats on demand, but if you turn on both spigots at the same time, the water heater won’t be able to heat the water as fast as it comes out. Also, if you only use the lion head to fill, it will splash too much and get the floor area outside the tub wet. Instead, fill the tub fairly full with the in-tub spigot, then turn it off, and then open up the lion spigot to finish filling. That way, you will never run out of hot water. There is also colored bath salts, offered from a large bowl. We enjoyed the huge tub for a good long time, with plenty of room for two to stretch out in.
Giuliana was good about making reservations for us at a local restaurant for dinner and giving information about the town. Breakfast offered an assortment of meats and sliced cheese, yogurts, fresh fruit, and local fresh pastries and cookies. In particular, she offered a local specialty, fresh-made cannoli made with a chocolate shell and covered with crushed pistachios. She even packed two of them up to take with us. We won’t soon forget this amazing place. The Antichi Catoi kept serving up its charm and we kept enjoying it. Unfortunately, this accommodation is no longer available, but that doesn’t mean that others won’t be measured up against it in the future. It was that good.