An Interview with the Sciglio Family who runs my Small Hotel
I really enjoyed my location at Hotel Villa Nettuno, this 13-room family run hotel on the north side of Taormina. Since it was a rainy day today anyway, I decided to find out a bit more about this hardworking family who have dedicated their lives towards making foreign travelers feel welcome in Taormina. So I sat down with Vincenzo and Salvatore, the father and son team that together with Maria, Salvatore’s mother, runs Hotel Villa Nettuno. Naturally the interview was conducted in Italian, and I sometimes had to use my dictionary plus my hands and feet to get my point across.
Hotel Villa Nettuno: my conveniently located hotel in Taormina
Vincenzo took me over to some family photos in the living room and started to explain the family’s long-standing history to me. Vincenzo, himself in his eighties, explained that his great grandfather born in 1833 while his grandfather was born in 1867. The villa came into being circa 1850 and originally consisted of only 4 rooms. In 1887 Vincenzo’s grandfather initiated an expansion and added a 4-room addition above the original rooms.
The Sciglio family: Vincenzo, Maria and Salvatore
The white stone surrounding the windows and doors was imported from Siracusa and Vincenzo’s grandfather was an expert stone carver. Incidentally, he also carved the door surrounds for Taormina’s famous Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina’s only five-star hotel. A coat of arms above the entrance says “Principe del giglio”, which effectively means Prince of the fleyr-de-lys. So there is obviously some noble ancestry in the Sciglio famly.
Villa Sciglio: a historic building
Then in the early 1900s the villa was rented for 25 years to an American artist by the name of Clifford Putnam who created a series of walkways and steps in the steeply sloping garden of the villa. Vincenzo himself was born in 1924 and even at 83 years of age, he is still going strong, with not even a thought of retiring.
Faimly heirlooms: like father like son
When I asked him about slowing down he shrugs and says “What would I do?”. Obviously his life is so intricately interwoven with this hotel that he cannot even fathom an existence without it. He certainly doesn’t mind the hard work. The same goes for Maria, who is up every morning at 6 am to start preparing the breakfast. In addition she also looks after the garden, which is a veritable multi-coloured paradise of subtropical shrubs and flowers.
The garden is amazing
In 1952 finally Vincenzo and Maria decided to create a terrace outside the house and to add on a third level, providing a total of 13 guest rooms for Hotel Villa Nettuno. Ten of these rooms are double rooms while three are single. Vincenzo goes on to explain that Maria always used to handle the cooking since the hotel used to offer three meals a day. Today Hotel Villa Nettuno offers breakfast only.
What a view for breakfast…