Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Among friends in a big Sicilian family

Compared to neighbouring Siracusa and Noto, Avola is a bit overlooked, but the town has nonetheless given name to a grape, there are fine beaches in Avola Marina and all the main sights in the region are within reach. In addition Avola tourism is of the subdued non-offensive kind, where too much will turn the place into an open-air museum, and too little makes all the cafés and restaurants close down.

We arrived in Avola Marina on a Saturday just over dinner, and found a nice b&b called Villa Eben Ezer, a little way from the beach. The gate was locked, and no one answered the bell, but fortunately, there was a phone number and the voice at the other end of the line promised to arrive 'subito' after numerous excuses and a lot of talk. Fifteen minutes later a young couple with a small child drove up in front of the house, and the wife could not suppress a small jump and a bent-arm-closed-fisted "Yes", when we accepted the room and the price.

- We have had this bed & breakfast for three years, and all the rooms are newly renovated, the owner, Salvatore, said, while showing us a spacious room with a beautiful terrace and a view to the sea and the mountains. For a newly established enterprise the present economic crisis is critical, and Salvino had been obliged to lower prices by 25%. Nevertheless, there were unusually few bookings for the high season.

Villa Eben Ezer is named after a Hebrew King, and according to Salvatore it should mean 'Qui si trova soccorso'. 'È una bella storia', as he said.

The shelter and hospitality is also made to accommodate his wife’s many siblings. She is out of a genuine Sicilian family with a 45-year-old mother, who has had eight children aged from 14 to 30 years. The five sisters meet in Villa Eben Ezer every Sunday with their boyfriends, husbands and children to go to the beach together, so that there is a crowd of people around the gate.

But as stated on the website 'ti sentirai tra amici´.

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