For the last week of our family trip to Sicily in August we booked a place by the sea with HouseTrip and it worked really well for us.
The property we booked is in the far south of the island in a small coastal village called Sampieri. Nothing much happens in Sampieri and that suited us just fine. We’d stayed in three different places in the previous 10 days (including a luxury hotel and a working farm) and just wanted to relax and draw breath. Sampieri has an excellent bakery, a yummy ice cream shop, a small supermarket, a lovely sandy beach and is close to the Baroque town of Scicli, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The next town along the coast is the port town of Pozzallo and we drove there for fresh fish and other food supplies when we needed them.
HouseTrip is an online holiday property rental service putting guests in touch with property owners. It’s one of the largest holiday rental websites in the world. The website guarantees that every property listed has been checked by them. Guests pay at the time of booking but owners don’t receive any money until 24 hours after guests arrive. This gives time for you to contact HouseTrip to resolve any issues if there’s a problem with anything.
There were certainly no problems for us at ‘La Truvatura’, the complex where we stayed. The property is owned by a charming and helpful Italian couple from Milan called Ornella and Radames. The couple speak a little English. They moved to the area 10 years ago and loved it so much that they decided to buy some holiday property to rent to guests there. They have five properties in a peaceful private complex behind their house – another owner has five more so there are 10 properties altogether on the site. The complex is in the countryside about 800 metres away from the beach and has beautifully landscaped gardens and an infinity pool with views out to sea. The pool is surrounded by trees and flowers and there was a gorgeous hibiscus growing just outside our door.
The owners are very available if you need any help: on our first morning there they drove into Sampieri with my husband to show him the best beaches and where to buy bread and groceries.
We stayed in property number three in a terrace of four. It has a twin bedroom, a bathroom and an open plan kitchen and living room on the ground floor and an open loft-style double bedroom above. It’s decorated and furnished to a good standard in a simple, contemporary style. We made full use of the free Wi-Fi, washing machine, dishwasher, cooker, fridge, freezer and air con. The only thing we couldn’t use was the oven as apparently there’s not enough electricity in the summer to cope with the demands of the influx of visitors to the area. We used the excellent gas barbecue outside instead to cook the fish we’d bought. We watched the BBC news on TV occasionally to catch up with the outside world. My favourite place was our shaded terrace overlooking the pool. We ate all of our meals there with the help of a citronella candle to discourage the bugs. Ornella showed me the other two-bedroom apartment and that looked lovely too.
My son spent a lot of time swimming and playing in the pool, apart from between 1.30 pm and 3.30 pm when nobody was allowed to use it. This rule seemed odd to us at first but it was actually fine because it’s too hot to be in the sun at that time anyway – the temperature was in the mid thirties at that time of day. Although there are 10 properties sharing the pool it never felt crowded during our stay and there were always enough sun loungers for everyone who wanted one.
Most of the other guests at the property were Italian and French families with kids. Ornella told me that they have cots and high chairs available for babies. The swimming pool isn’t enclosed at all so it could be stressful to stay here with non-swimming children.
In the area
My husband and I wanted to do some sightseeing in the area but the kids weren’t keen to move much in the heat. We alternated pool and beach days with days out to try and keep everyone happy and this worked well most of the time. We all enjoyed our day in Syracuse, about an hour’s drive away, especially our visit to the amazing food market there and to the interactive Archimedes Museum. The kids were less keen on our trip to beautiful Noto taking in the Planeta winery on the way home. When we popped out to look at lovely Scicli we left the kids relaxing at the house for a couple of hours – an advantage of the eldest being 16 now.
We really enjoyed our stay at ‘La Truvatura’ and would definitely recommend it.
Family travel lowdown
The two bedroom property we stayed in at ‘La Truvatura’ cost £950 for seven nights in August booked through HouseTrip. There are also another two-bedroom apartment and three one-bedroom apartments available to rent from the same owners.