We visited Palazzo Giovanni because of the many positive reviews on Tripadvisor and it is indeed a special place.
Silvio is a very friendly host who will try everything he can to make your stay a pleasant one. We were welcomed with some limoncello made from the lemons from the trees behind the house. Silvio then explained us the neighborhood and we quickly organized a private tour of the Etna for me, my wife and our 1y3m old baby (in our back carrier). The trip was with a guide called Fabio, who was excellent. He spoke English and was very informed about Etna, her flora, fauna, history and geological details, he was enthusiastic and attentive. The trip was €40 p.p. which was better than similar offers we got. I suspect Silvio is full of more of this excellent advice.
Silvio doesn't speak any English whatsoever. What he lacks in English he tries to make up with hand gestures - and he's a very clear animated speaker :-) I did feel I missed a sort of connection with our host because of the language barrier, which is one of the things I normally like about B&B's. All the hand-wavy discussion is charming, but it doesn't make up for having a proper conversation..
The rooms are very beautiful, large and clean. Ours was situated next to a shared garden which was an excellent place to relax. The breakfast is served at the roof terrace which you can reach by using a rather rickety, small winding staircase which I wouldn't recommend for older people. From the roof terrace you've got a beautiful view over surrounding landscape and Etna. There are also sunbeds there.
Breakfast itself was so-so for us, the bread was good and there was cheese, pepperoni, eggs, olives, dried tomatoes and jam (all of it quite tasty), but I missed having any sort of fresh fruit and the coffee was really ghastly, from an instant machine which made some of the worst cappucino I've had in a while. Other B&B's we've visited in Italy all had fresh coffee and I missed that.
Location-wise it's quite well-situated, we found the place easily using a TomTom and made daytrips to many of the surrounding towns, which were all beautiful and in driving distance. We had a young child with us who needed to sleep early so we were hoping for some passable restaurants in town, but the two Silvio mentioned to us (and warned us about the lackluster quality of the seafood) were both horrible so I can advice anybody with a good taste to make dinner plans elsewhere.
All-in-all we had a pleasant stay at Palazzo Giovanni, although the breakfast wasn't our beef and local restaurants not great, Silvio made us feel welcome, gave us good advise and helped us with what we needed. He even did some laundry for us (and didn't see any mention of it on the bill!) and when leaving he gave us a delicious local wine to boot.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Immersed in the perfumed lemon gardens which are typical of Acireale coast, Giovanni Palace B&B has been recently renovated in full obedience of the original style of early twentieth-century building, with all the amenities and comforts of a prestigious hotel. Art-Nouveau-decorated floors, fresco ceilings, original period furniture and paintings made by grandma represent the manners of a noble Etnean family, "Leotta Dilettoso Vagliasindi del Castello", whose Silvio, the manager of the B&B, is the youngest descendant. You can admire the wonderful view of Etna Volcano and lose your gaze above the horizon on Ionian Sea. ... more less
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