“My parents used to stroll with a calash on the beach of Punta Grande. Every time they were there my mother would point at that house and say that if she’d had a villa like that she would have felt like a queen. Coincidentally enough, the owners went bankrupt and the house was put up for auction, so my father secretly made an offer and he won it. During the following walk, though, my mother didn’t say a word as they were passing by. So it was my father’s turn to ask her to look at the house because from that moment on that was going to be their home.”
This is the sweet memory of Signora Maria, born in 1935, revealing how Villa Deleo became her family’s summer house. “I remember when us children would play in all these rooms with family and friends – she continues – then we grew up and our children and grand children took our place”. Maria, now on her own, the last of the children and now a widow, really didn’t want to sell this house, so rich with precious memories. “I knew I couldn’t afford keeping the house, so I rolled up my sleeves and a new adventure took off”. This is how, 14 years ago, she decided to give a new life to her old family house by turning it into a Bed and Breakfast that hosts tourists from all over the world.
Today, as an 83 years old retired teacher, Maria has a full time job welcoming travellers who fall in love with her stunning place as soon as they set foot here. How could they not? Her villa, built in 1912, is an exact reproduction of a liberty house from Mondello Gulf, near Palermo, and it’s surrounded by vegetation. It also features a beautiful terrace with a stunning sea view, perfect for an inspiring breakfast during the summer, and it has its own private access to Punta Grande beach. One of the notes you can find on her guest book reads: “staying in
this house was a time of pure ‘poetry’, having to go it’s truly painful”
But the true gem of this villa is Signora Maria herself, so elegant in her gestures and charming with words. You can tell from the way she moves through the old rooms or from the way she gently touches every objects that she is part of the history of the house, the history of a long gone Sicily.
Following her you’ll find old handmade wrought-iron bed, a gramophone with its collection of classical music vinyl records, an old ‘ghiaccera’ (the ancestor of our modern freezer) and valuable paintings. We can easily say that Villa Deleo is nothing less than a treasure chest whose only key lies in the wise hands of Signora Maria. She finally tell us her secret: “this job is extraordinary: in order to do it you need good nose, good eyes but most of all a great heart”.