Turning into the pine-tree lined road leading to the gates of Piana dei Colli and arriving at the gates where a giant Moreton Bay fig towers over the courtyard that fronts the villa, we knew we'd arrived at a pretty special place, an impression that was well and truly confirmed by both the beautiful garden and a house full of books, magazines (mostly gardening ones), pictures and prints, antiques and antiquities. Our large, comfortably furnished room complete with sofa, coffee table, desk and bookshelves as well as the usual bedroom bits was one of two guest rooms on a seperate landing. Our bathroom was not en suite but was for our sole use.
The other room on that floor was smaller and had an en suite bathroom. A third room is also availlable.
Breakfast was served on the terrace, a fine spread of the usual Italian morning fare - breads and pastries, home made preserves, fruit (delicious melon and peaches), juices, coffee and tea. Eggs were also available but we passed on those as the rest was more than enough.
The villa is actually in Mondello, a beachside town a few kilometres north of Palermo. It was such a lovely place to come back to after a day's sightseeing, to relax for a while in the garden before heading out for dinner in Mondello, itself an attractive mix of rather grand seaside villas, a long sandy beach lined with beach huts and umbrellas and brightly painted small fishing boats.
There is a minimum requirement of 3 night's stay in July and August and 2 nights the rest of the year. Children under 6 are not accepted as guests - with an open staircase and the house so full of family treasures you can understand why.
Cash is the preferred method of payment.
Would I stay here again? Most definitely
Unique Quality: Built in the 17th century by the Bourbon king, Ferdinando IV, for his mistress, the Villa Castelforte is now divided into several apartments, one of which is the Il Glicine B&B. Our upstairs bedroom looked over the courtyard but the entrance to the B&B is at the back, through the garden Gabriella Pucci has created in what was once the estate's lemon grove. It really is a little slice of paradise, full of wonderful plants, winding paths, two very well-behaved dogs, and a friendly tortoise.
Gabriella was a delightful hostess, a fund of information and conversation about places to see, parking in Palermo, Sicilian history, archaeology, gardening - her restaurant recommendations were excellent too.
Directions: Although only 15 minutes from the centre of Palermo, the property is well off the beaten track and you really do need your own transport. Gabriella sent us a very clear (and cutely illustrated) map which made finding the place very straightforward.
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