Be warned : if you expect a house furnished by IKEA, you will be disappointed ! This house-museum with its 65 square metres divided between three floors plus a terrace, is carved in the mountain rock. It tells the history of a peasant family, the Spinusos, who, at the beginning of the last century, lived among these mountains. They followed the rhythms of times past, working in the woods, weaving wicker baskets in winter, in harmony with nature, baking their own bread. It is a small simple house, but I hope its charm will win you over. Here you will live in unique surroundings projected back in time to one-hundred years’ ago, as did the local farmers.
On the ground floor, the flooring is of antique tiles; the stable has been conserved together with the manger where the donkey was housed. The male members of the family worked in the fields with the donkey, while the women stayed to work at home. The roof has been covered in the same way as it was then, with wood and canes.
There are work tools, rabbit traps, wine and oil flasks and baskets handmade many years ago from local materials by members of the household. Mr. Joseph Spinuso, head of the family, impressed me by his homely ways, humility and inventiveness with which I can identify.
On the first floor a small salon in stone and quicklime has been maintained, according to the Sicilian tradition, with a comfortable wood stove, where you can sit and read a good book if it is snowing outside, and there is a bedroom with a queen-sized bed. According to tradition, the bedroom must be small so that it is easier to keep it warm during the cold mountain winters.
Here you will find the original furniture in a modest baroque style, an old trunk, originally used by the family to put away the wife’s trousseau, some religious pictures in front of which they would recite the rosary in the evening, but there is also a modern electric fire, satellite TV, a small wardrobe, a chest of drawers and a Sicilian writing desk.
The modern window frames have thermal sealing and do not hide the pleasant view over the San Salvatore mountain. The lights around the Madonna dell’Alto sanctuary will show the way of the procession held in August.
Under the stairs there is a small storeroom where you will find stored, for your use in the case of an excursion, ski-suits, snow boots, 2 sleeping bags and a tent for 3 persons.
Beyond the stairs, on the right in the niches carved from the rock, I have arranged a small collection of crib scenes in Sicilian ceramic – their warmth is transmitted to the house !
And here we are on the second floor. In front of us there is the oven, four metres high, once used for baking bread and to warm the family at the same time. The signs of smoke are visible – I was careful not to eliminate them. Just imagine the aroma and the warmth of this familiar scene that takes us back centuries !
This rock, which emerged from the sea millions of years ago, caused by the impact between the Eurasian and African continents, tells the history of Petralia Sottana. It is bound to the history of the water that flows from the melted snow on the nearby mountains. The water flows into hidden caves and carries on to the village where it gushes straight out of the rocks. In this house too, there is sometimes a small rock spring, because this house lives according to nature. So don’t be worried if you see a few drops run down the rock walls occasionally: it is Nature coming to salute you !
On this floor there is also a small, equipped kitchen with a sofa-bed that sleeps 2 people. There is international satellite TV, radio, a wooden table with 4 chairs, a fridge, water-heater, coffee maker and everything you will need to prepare a quiet supper after a day out, or just to prepare sandwiches for your excursions. Here you will find glasses, plates, forks, knives and the necessary kitchen utensils.
A delightful balcony opens onto a view of the valley. From here I enjoy greeting the mountains or my neighbours in the morning while I wait for the coffee to brew !
If you prefer a holiday without the worry of cooking, then there are several restaurants and pizza parlours of good quality in the village with reasonable prices.
Near to the kitchen, I have kept a space for the holy images dear to the inhabitants of Petralia, such as Our Lady of the Heights, who protects the village and its inhabitants.
From the second floor, there is a staircase leading up to the terrace, which opens out onto the natural setting of the village with its stone houses. I spend a lot of time here in the summer, under a parasol, glancing through a magazine. Or in the evening, when the sky turns red at sunset, it is good to sip a glass of good local wine and chat with friends about the meaning of life.
Just above the terrace, there is a little garden, once home to chickens and the family goat. In the summer, it is lovely to find shade and coolness under the big tree, or enjoy the last of the sun’s rays at sunset and forget the stress of the city and the working day. I was forgetting: it is precisely for this reason that the house has no internet connection. But there is an internet point just a few steps away, along the main street.