I usually love Italy’s Bed and Breakfasts. They are beautiful, well organized and come with a great personal touch. But one time it got too personal. Weird even. And at a certain point, I wished I had just booked a hotel instead.
Our private luxury villa
During a holiday last year, once again, my husband and I booked a B&B in Sicily. The house looked beautiful on the pictures – and even better in reality.
Upon our arrival the owner greeted us at the gate and led us into the house. Everything was neat and clean with colourful flowers on the balconies and an awesome ocean view. As there were only four other rooms in the house and not all of them were occupied, it almost felt like our very personal luxury villa.
So many rules!
We were really enthusiastic to start our holiday in such a beautiful house!
During check-in, our host gave us a folder with information about our accommodation and its surroundings. As soon as we had made ourselves comfortable in our room, I started researching our sightseeing activities for the following days and opened said folder.
Unfortunately it didn’t contain the kind of helpful tips I had expected. Instead, there were a lot of rules about the house:
“Don’t eat in your room.” Well… makes sense!
“Don’t eat on the balcony.” Oh, that’s a pity with a view like this!
“Please contact me before leaving – I know the best sightseeing spots.” Thanks … we’ll think about it.
“Don’t throw your towels over the balcony railing – this alters the appearance of our building.” Wow – so many rules!”
At that point I closed the folder and turned to my husband:
“Are we sure this guy is Italian?”
My husband just shrugged: “Maybe he has a German grandma or something.”
Planned to perfection
The next morning when we entered the breakfast room, our host – let’s call him Antonio – was already waiting for us.
Obviously we were the first, or maybe the only guests to arrive for breakfast. Antonio asked us to remain standing for a moment so that he could show us the breakfast buffet. The food really looked delicious, and he made an effort to explain every single ingredient in detail:
“The cream cheese is produced in a local town nearby and I’ve added some spices from my own garden.”
“This croissant is filled with chocolate, the next one is with caramel and that one over there is with pistachio cream.”
“Over there you have salty butter as well as butter without salt. I recommend eating butter without salt though…”
Additionally, the food was also labelled with small explanations about the ingredients and their origin. Antonio definitely was a real perfectionist!
When we (finally) sat down and started eating, Antonio sat down at the table next to us, watching our every move. Every once in a while, he asked how we liked it and if everything was ok. When I got up to take a chocolate croissant from the buffet, he called over: “I would recommend you choose the pistachio-croissant over chocolate!”
He definitely meant well. A bit too well for my taste.
I don’t want to be nosy but…
I was glad when we were ready to leave for our first sightseeing tour to Mount Etna.
We didn’t get far though. As we pulled out of the parking space Antonio appeared in the rear mirror, gesticulating wildly with his arms. My husband stepped on the break and I got out of the car.
“Is anything wrong?” I asked.
“No, no, you shouldn’t leave yet.” Antonio exclaimed.
“Come over here, I’ll show you.”
And so we did. He motioned us to sit down at one of the breakfast tables and laid out another folder out in front of us.
“You know, I really don’t want to be nosy – but I know the best activities around here and I want to show you. So please, inform me every time you leave the house so I can tell you where to go. In case you haven’t read it yet, that’s also mentioned in the folder I gave you.”
So he really did mean it. Of course we listened to his tips – and some of them were actually really good. But still, his behaviour was definitely too nosy for our taste!
I know now that you are decent persons
That evening, we bought some food at the local market and planned to have dinner at our accommodation. Having read the part about not eating on the balcony, we had told Antonio about our plans for dinner in the morning. He confirmed that no guests are ever allowed to eat on the balcony and offered to arrange a table for us in the breakfast room instead. Still a pity, but hey – rules are rules.
When we returned from the market, Antonio greeted us at the courtyard:
“I have some good news for you! My wife and I have found now out that you are decent persons and decided that you can eat dinner on the balcony. My wife has already set up a table for you.”
What a nice surprise! We were really happy about the opportunity to enjoy dinner with a view. At the same time, we refused to question how on earth they came to this conclusion…
While we enjoyed our Mediterranean dinner on the balcony, we were still laughing about our weird host. This guy was really a strange person and so unlike all our other Italian hosts before.
At night, the whole thing stopped being funny though.
Lying in bed, we noticed blinking lights in every corner of our sleeping room. The scary thing about them was that, as long as we stayed perfectly still, everything remained dark. The lights only started to blink as soon as one of us moved.
Now this was scary. Was this guy actually observing our every movement? I didn’t sleep well that night and decided to buy tape first thing in the morning in order to cover the motion detectors the next time I set foot in this room.
When Antonio greeted us the next morning for breakfast and started to explain all the breakfast ingredients yet again, I had a hard time smiling back at him. The beautiful house felt more and more claustrophobic.
Our host’s stiff smile felt scary instead of friendly. Not to mention that all the walls in the public areas of the house were plastered with pictures of him – which normal person does that?! Then all these rules. Plus the surveillance equipment in our room!
It all reminded me of an Edgar Allan Poe short story I had to read in school. The one about a landlady who served her guests poisoned tea in order to stuff them like house-pets. Should we leave this house on the spot or was I just being paranoid…?
Of course we stayed as planned. After three nights we finally left the B&B behind and continued our journey. By the time Antonio waved us goodbye at the gate, I let out a deep breath: “We survived it.” I said to my husband and we both laughed.
What a strange experience! What are your experiences with Bed and Breakfasts? I’d love to read some of your stories in the comments 😉