Seasoned travelers often are reluctant to return to an inn or b&b in which they have had a stellar experience. While this may seem counterintuitive, its rationale lay in the old expression ‘you can never go back.’ Travelers treasure their best travel experiences, and don’t want anything to spoil those memories, even if it means frequenting a lesser place the second time around.
A couple of years ago, I took a 5-week trip to southern Italy and Sicily. My wife was unable to come. Though I could not put off the trip, I told her upon leaving that we’d repeat the exact trip one year later. I made good on that promise but, by its very nature, I was compelled to return to the same places I had stayed the first time, even though it violated the ‘you-can-never-go-back’ rule.
And, of course, while I never let on to my wife, I was indeed generally disappointed on my return to places that previously seemed top-notch (though my wife thought they were great!). I think the reason for the general rule is that the people who run most small hotels/inns/b&b’s invariable get good at entertaining new customers for a few days, often telling the same stories to each new guest. On second visits, they don’t have a good script prepared, and so the experience often falls flat.
There was one glowing exception on the trip, notably the Azienda Agricola Silvia Sillitti near Serradifalco, Sicily, otherwise known to as ‘Silvia’s and Bruno’s house.’ This is a stellar accommodation and a top notch experience. There are no scripts here. Instead, there is a woman (Silvia) who has a genuine interest in learning about people and places, and so second visits afford an opportunity to dig a little deeper into each other’s lives and experiences. Silvia’s husband, Bruno, is part of the experience. He is a delightful guy from whom I learn lots about Sicily, including how to interpret Sicilian speed limit signs, double solid-line markings, ‘road closed’ signs, and the like. (None of these mean what you learned elsewhere – everything is Sicily seemingly means something else than you think.)
Unless you are traveling with small kids, dinner is an essential part of the experience. At 7:30 each evening, guests convene in the dining room/living room to chat over a glass of white wine, followed by a dinner that Silvia invented that day (besides running a large farm, and being the quintessential hostess, she knows her way around the kitchen). Over the next three or so hours, guests enjoy what is invariably an invigorating discussion about life experiences, travel ideas, happenings in Sicily, and so on. I have enjoyed every one of the nine dinners that I have attended, and can resurrect the faces of all the guests I have met there over two visits.
I have not been to every accommodation in Sicily, but I have been to many of the best-rated places. All have their strong points, to be sure, but none can quite match up to the Azienda Agricola. I suspect that “Silvia’s and Bruno’s house” is the best little inn in Sicily.
Will I return a third time? I already have my reservations.
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.