This is not a comfortable hotel. There are no TVs in the rooms, no fridges, no coffee making facilities, sometimes nowhere to hang your clothes. Not a trouser press in sight. And beware, the quoted prices are per person, not per room. That said, go with a sense of adventure, book the right room and you may well fall in love with it. The Atelier Sul Mare is in the tiny fishing town of Castel di Tusa in Sicily. Its a good hours drive from Palermo, the beautiful, but in parts neglected and decaying city, where driving is a blood sport and eating a passion. The town itself contains little more than a very good restaurant serving very fresh fish, a stony beach and a church.
The hotel’s owners commissioned artists to design and make the rooms. They haven’t held back. You can watch videos and see photos of all twenty, along with achingly pretentious descriptions that we are hoping suffered in the translation, pm the hotel website. But these are three of our favorites.
This is the Prophet Room designed and built by Darion Bellezza, Adele Cambria and Antonio Presti in honour of Pier Paolo Pasolini.
To enter the room you push the heavy metal door, inscribed with a poem by Pasolini, which falls like a drawbridge. You walk through a Labyrinth to reach the room. Not sure if fire regs apply on Sicily! The room itself is lined with mud and clay. The bed is part of the concrete floor.
At one end is a glass wall resembling a cinema screen. Under the glass stage in front is sand, allegedly from the scene of Pasolini’s murder. The girl with long hair wasn’t in the room when I was there. Oh well…
The bathroom is also intended to be a memory of his demise, crushed in a car. The walls are covered with pipes which issue water to be blown by the giant wind tunnel style fan on the ceiling into a maelstrom. The effect is intended to be like walking through a car wash. If you are brave enough to try this, one tip – remember to take the loo roll out of the bathroom first!
The Nest, designed by Paolo Lcaro, is a more peaceful room, with a cocoon like concrete bed adorned with a cover which resembles a giant birds wing.
The window allows the sounds and air from the coast into your room. In fact, as we couldn’t work out how to close it also let in a noisy wind and more than a little rain.
Finally, a room which I wasn’t able to use, because it was drying out. Designed by Raul Ruiz, the Tower of Sigismondo is a gloomy black tower with a giant white revolving bed in the middle.
The roof of the tower can be opened so that the occupants of the bed are exposed to the sky and the stars above.
All of which is very romantic unless there is a rain storm, in which case…
Definitely worth experiencing, inspiring even, and like the rest of Sicily, passionate but unpredictable.