Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Villa Politi ~ Syracuse, Sicily

We have traveled with Go Ahead Tours several times and, with the exception of one hotel, we have been treated to some really wonderful places to lay our heads at night. None so wonderful as the Villa Politi in Syracuse, Sicily. 
Built in 1862 by Austrian noblewoman Maria Teresa Laudien after she met the love of her life, painter Salvatore Politi, this is an amazing place to call home for even a few days. We came in by bus, which has a totally different parking lot, but if you were visiting by auto you would pull into these grand gates and drive up the shaded driveway to the grand entrance.
Once you drove in you would be greeted by this grand double staircase entrance to the Villa.  The Grand Hotel Villa Politi lives up to it's name with it's grandeur.
Lush gardens with lovely statuary are found at every turn. 
The lovely front entry included this peaceful fountain that is in the recess of the dual staircases. In the morning the birds loved to flock to this water source and they didn't seem to mind if the people were there too. (Take a look at that lamp post on the left! SO grand!)
Of course they had had their own stone lions to guard the gates! This one was carved from marble and I loved all of the different tones in his "coat".
The staircases were so beautiful. Carved marble with elegant details and a grand sweep just took my breath away. The "Hidden Mickey's" made me smile. Yup, I'm a Disney fan and take joy in finding these wherever I travel!
Walking into the lobby you find grand chandeliers, a lovely carved wooden reception desk and beautiful marble floors. Just a hint of what this place was like in it's heyday when the Lady of the home was entertaining.
Many notable people came to visit here including Winston Churchill! They named the bar after him. Each night, for just a few euros, you could grab a drink and enjoy the little appetizer buffet they set out. It was quite lovely.
Walk a bit further and you will find this amazing reception room. It was a favorite place for some of our favorite travelers to hang out with a good book or a drink. To the right were the elevators but you could easily reach your rooms from the staircase.
Our room was simply elegant. The fabrics are expensive and you can tell that they would last many years with little wear. Modern conveniences were available too. Although the wifi didn't really work well from the room, I was able to access it from the front balcony easily. Perfect for those who wanted to use Instagram or just play on their tablets while relaxing.
We were overjoyed to find that our "window" was actually a door...to our own balcony! A few of the rooms share this balcony and it's beautiful view.
Our first night we splurges on champagne and took full advantage of our patio with it's balcony!
The "diningroom" was located in what was once the ballroom. 
The archways were lit up for dinner, casting a golden or blue hue on the intricate ceilings.
We loved the chandeliers in the Ballroom/Diningroom. They completely matched the grandeur of the room.
Breakfast was a wonderful combination of sweet and savory. Several juices and coffee/teas were provided as well. A good tip is to grab one of the fruits to take with you for your day. If you are exploring you never know when you might need a snack to carry you through and that orange will come in handy! The one downside of this location is that, other than a small snack/ice cream shop on the corner, there really isn't anywhere you can just take a walk to and enjoy a meal. The meals at the Villa are incredible but if you want to eat off-site then you will need to take a taxi or drive there.
We both loved the little intimate nooks where you could take your breakfast and enjoy the soft morning light while you enjoyed your food.
But, for me, well, I'm a coffee girl. I would end breakfast by grabbing a fresh cup and heading out to the balcony. This breezeway was a very comfortable place to relax with our fellow travelers.
The details, from the flooring to the trim to the lighting, is what makes this place so special!
The view of the sea isn't all so terrible either! Part of the property is this quarry. So you were able to get a bit of the ancient with the villa as well. 
Since part of our journey to Syracuse was going to involve exploring a very ancient archaeological area we were happy to find a taste of it right here at the Villa. Unfortunately we were told that it was too unstable for us to get a better look.
So I decided to take my coffee and my book and explore a bit more. There are various patios and balconies where you can wander and be totally alone and in peace. 
But there are also areas set up for entertaining so if you have a large group you can meet up on the patios and enjoy the day or evening together.
I was all by myself, enjoying this view and the peace and quiet of the morning. In May the mornings are quite mild with a bit of chill in the air but with my light jacket and my cup of coffee I was very comfortable and had a very nice time there.
However I got restless when the coffee was gone so it was time to go explore! Always take the time to tour whatever hotel you are in. Check out all of the areas from the pool to the conference rooms. You can find a lot of hidden beauty there.
That is how I found this room. It is easy to see why this room is popular for small weddings. It is so romantic.
The ceiling glass was my greatest find. I could see from our own balcony off of our room that there was another room below that had a stained glass ceiling so I made it a point to figure out where this room was...just so I could see the ceiling!
As you can see, I wasn't disappointed! This is one of the most ornate ceilings I have ever encountered anywhere in my travels. The colors and details are just spectacular!
After my wandering around we decided to head down to the ocean overlook, just a block or so away. The bougainvillea is in full bloom in May and are a lovely addition to these gardens.
Wherever I travel I seem to find cats and lizards. I don't know why, I just do! I was thrilled to find this little guy on the railing of the staircase. He posed for me for a few minutes and then disappeared into the Lantana flowers. Still one of my favorite images from this trip.
The ocean front is only about a block from the entrance to the Villa. At the corner is a beautiful Monastery of the Cappuccini monks and the rays of the late day sun seemed to be reinforcing the religious feel of the building.
The little details, on what are otherwise very plain buildings, is what I love about Italy and Europe in general. Make sure to take the time to enjoy the view when you are on your way to a destination. 
You have to cross a VERY busy street to get to the ocean walk. I can not stress enough that the drivers will NOT just decide to slow down and let you cross. You have to be bold and just step out there and DO it. I know this goes totally against the grain of everything American but it really works. I felt like I was taking my life in my hands but step out I did and yes, they stopped and let us cross. You just have to be brave...and look at this gorgeous reward!
Take the steps down to the War Memorial and enjoy the statuary and reliefs carved into the marble. As with all of the graffiti that you will find in Europe, the painting marring the memorial makes no sense here either. To deface something that commemorates the ultimate sacrifice of those who have protected the people feels even more disrespectful than normal graffiti. It made me sad to see it even as I enjoyed the beautiful artwork.
Many different eras of war veterans are depicted on the memorial as well as battle scenes in the reliefs. This is a popular picnic spot and we found many people sitting around it and enjoying the views. 
And the views from here are of the gorgeous Ortigia Island. We will head out to this amazing place next week on the blog!

Our time at the Villa Politi was pure luxury. It was definitely the most elegant hotel we visited and a favorite of everyone on our tour. Whenever we speak of Sicily the Villa is at the top of the list of our favorite things so if you get a chance, stop in, stay awhile and enjoy this beautiful hotel.

Remember to click on the small photos so you can enjoy the larger versions (especially that glass ceiling!) and drop on by my Facebook or Instagram to see what new images I post every day!

See you next week!

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