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“warm vibe” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Borgo San Francesco

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Borgo San Francesco
4.0 of 5 Bed and Breakfast   |   Contrada San Francesco 102, 98063 Gioiosa Marea, Sicily, Italy   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 10 Gioiosa Marea B&B and Inns
Langenthal, Schweiz
Top Contributor
106 reviews 106 reviews
42 hotel reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
130 helpful votes 130 helpful votes
“warm vibe”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2011

I liked the labyrinthine layout of the grounds. Most of all, I liked the warm vibe of the place. I felt welcome. The Borgo is run by the Coletta family: all of whom are excellent hosts and are extremely helpful. They are from the area so nobody knows the lay of the land better than they do. When language becomes a bottleneck, Tonino's wife, Sandra, comes to the rescue and saves the day. She speaks English, French, and Italian.

If you need space and light, then ask them not to put you up in The Melograno ‘bungalow’. It was clean, but it was just too small, dark, and cramped for me. I asked to move to another apartment, but they were apparently booked full. Thus, I did not stay as long as I would have liked. Also, if you are looking forward to a vacation without a car, then the Borgo San Francesco is not for you. You absolutely need a car, scooter, or motorcycle here. It would not be impossible to get around via bicycle here, but even if you are in great shape, you will be drenched with sweat after the ride up the hill from Gioiosa Marea.

The restaurant is a winner. Unfortunately, it was open only Saturday and Sunday during my stay there. I know that if the restaurant had been open every day, I would have eaten there every day. I would not have used the kitchen in the room even once. The space is very comfortable and homey. The food is excellent; the menu consisting mainly of local specialties. It is well-prepared, well-presented, and the service is friendly and competent (even in English).

Their wines are pretty good in terms of price / performance. However, they could enhance the Sicilian experience offering some higher-end Sicilian wines, of which there are plenty.

Altogether, the price/performance is very good. I have already recommended the Borgo to my friends and family.

Room Tip: do not ask for a 'single room'
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled solo
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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81 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    57
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    2
    0
    1
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28
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (6)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
London, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2011

Only stayed for one night. Drove from Palermo on smaller roads so were very tried upon arrival, but the English speaking staff were very helpful and even gave us free bottled water. Parking was a bit tricky, but not bad for Sicily. We had trouble finding it but we hadn't used the directions from their website or been through Gioiosa Marea (where it is signposted from). Room was very nice and larger than expected. Place has a very friendly atmosphere and feels quite remote.

  • Stayed April 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Oxford, United Kingdom
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2011

We stayed at Borgo San Francesco with our two young children (5 years old and 20 months) in April; 2011. The owners Sandra and Toninio helped make both our booking and stay exceptionally stress free. Sandra, who has English as a first language and who is also fluent in Italian and French, made sure that we had a cot and a high chair in the apartment before we arrived. She met us on arrival and spent some time making suggestions for places where we might eat out that would be child friendly and where we might take day trips. Nothing was too much trouble and her recommendations were first rate.
The apartment we stayed in was clean and well appointed. The beds were comfortable; we booked one of the larger apartments which had a large double bed, a single for our son, and a cot for our daughter all in the main bedroom. For adults not wanting to sleep in the same room as their children then the sofa downstairs also converts to a double bed. The apartment also had air conditioning but in April we did not need to use it, however it would be essential in Summer.
The Borgo San Francesco complex is quiet and in a rural location on the hillside up above the coast. Gioiosa Maria is the nearest town - just 5 mins by car down a steep decent - and has a pebbly beach with fantastic rock pools. Perfect for our 5 years old son to catch crabs and mud skippers. The town has a number of restaurants and good take aways. There are also two supermarkets, we preferred Conad which had lots of high quality fresh produce.
The personal touch afforded by Sandra and Toninio was also extended from the other staff and family. Salvatore (Toninio's father) took my son and I on a spontaneous sightseeing walk around the grounds through an olive grove and along a small local stream in search of lizards, before talking us on a small drive in his car to see some of the local highlights. We stopped at a local wine merchant where Salvatore bought some wine that was decanted from a large stainless steel vat into a plastic bottle. It was the type of place that you would not find by yourself but is typically Sicilian.
For days out the best were Etna - simply stunning, the boat trip by Catamaran and then hydrofoil from Millazo to Lipari and then to il Volcano and then back. Cefalu is the most beautiful town we visited and has a wonderful sandy beach.
All in all I would wholeheartedly recommend Borgo San Francesco for the simple reason that the owners and staff clearly take pride in looking after their guests. Sicily is a delight and this is a great place to explore from.

Room Tip: simply great people
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  • Stayed April 2011, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Port Douglas, Australia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 22, 2010

Shared an apartment with friends, What a relaxing and beautiful property.
We cooked yummy meals, tryed local wine, went swimming and played cards, A true Chill out!!!! We were looked after so well by all the staff, especialy Sandra.
Thank you all for making our time in Sicily sooo wonderful. x

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Palermo, Italy
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 18, 2010

Arrived by train, and walked, it is a 3.5 km walk from the station, so i would recommend hiring a car, however, if i had researched better, i would have seen on the website they offer a free pickup from the station. The appartment we stayed in was lovely, modern, clean, comfortable and quiet...with a propper queen sized bed and a very decent kitchen. we booked for 6 days, and ended up staying 2 weeks. the views are amazing, it is up very high and there are panoramic views from the property. the swimming pool is very clean, and inviting...a bit chilly in october, but went for a swim everyday all the same.
the restaurant is open fridays, saturdays and sundays when not in peak season. the food is out of this world, the chef makes a selection of dishes and you can opt for one, two or three courses, the price was very reasonable. the antipasti was huge! and i would highly recommend the local pasta dish with pistachio pesto. There is a supermarket in gioiosa marea where you can buy everything you need. because we didnt have a car, the owners of the business were very helpful and drove us into town 3 times to do our shopping. Hitch hiking is common there, and most people will stop and pick you up if you stick your hand out. there is also a winery just down the road (walking distance) where you can buy local wine. the lady there is very sweet and you can taste all of the wines before you buy. There is also a very nice beach in Gioiosa Marea, and a great bakery where you can buy the best Canoli with ricotta! Borgo San Franchesco was the highlight of our trip, after travelling through busy cities is was really nice to just relax, we would recommend it to anyone.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Denver, Colorado
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 16, 2009

I am an artist who loves the experience of painting in interesting locations where the country is especially known for their food. Italy is one of my favorites. This year I spent three weeks painting in Sicily. I rely on the New York Times for places to eat after I've select a painting location. I was in Sicily with my painting gear and a friend for one week being a tourist and taking lots of photos until he departed from Trapani. The following day I departed for Borgo San Francesco, a Turismo Rurale, mentioned only as newly opened in a travel article in the NYTimes. It was located in an area of Sicily where I wanted to paint for the next week.

I arrived in the afternoon after a drive across the northern coast of Sicily from Trapini almost to Messina. I never mind asking for directions in my "baby" Italian. I ask someone stopped near me on a street in Gioiosa Marea. Fortunate for me, he knew the owners. I followed him to Borgo San Francesco in my car where we were welcomed with a coffee and drink by Tonino, one of the family owners. There was a beautiful afternoon sky warming the walls of Borgo San Francesco and cool shadows for contrast and comfort.

Borgo San Francesco is designed for everyone's needs. I chose a bed and breakfast plan in a perfectly designed apartment. The apartment had a great small kitchen where I made some lunches. I'm a foodie and wanted to try the restaurant and look forward to fresh breads in the morning. I was not disappointed. It was a brilliant choice as I was eating the regional and personal specialities of the two women chefs. Do not leave without tasting the ratatouille, a vegetable ambrosia. I tried many things from the menu and was thrilled with the experience. The antipasti course was my favorite.

There are prepared frozen desserts which is a convenience for small restaurants and I know to get my desserts in a pasticceria or a 4 star restaurant. Surprise. One evening the waiter insisted I have a desert and brought me a frozen halved lemon filled with lemon gelato and a dark chocolate wafer for decoration. It was deliciously lemon flavor to my surprise and an imaginative presentation.

Borgo San Francesco is located next to and surrounded by working farms, and friendly people, their churches, olive orchards, walnut, lemon, orange, pomegranate and fig trees, prickly pears, passion fruit and grape vines, goats, sheep, chickens, ancient walls, windows, and doors with and without sun and shadows patterns. None escaped being subjects for my paintings. Neighbors were so accommodation. They willingly staked the goats in an olive grove where I could paint them for a day! The view to the west and across the valley is more of the beautifully visual same. There are narrow street, hilltop villages to drive or hike to for more of this rustic beauty and I did drive to one. There are islands to ferry to. I was never tempted to leave for them. After the first day I commited to a weeks stay.

Sandra (Boston University graduate) Tonino (Sicilian)and their son Davida (bilingual charmer at 5+ years old) live their home at Borgo San Francesco. They are part of the family that owns and works daily to make this a hillside oasis for anyone wanting the convenience of living in newly built accommodations in the country, with a restaurant promising to be steeped in gastronomical traditions and Sicilian charm. They are worthy of their NYTimes nod and should receive an additional update.

I think of them daily and plan to return. At home in Denver I attempt to replicate the ratatouille from Sandra's recipe. I think of the night the chef brought wine pudding and hot roasted chestnuts to my apartment. I had eaten Sunday lunch, thinking the restaurant would be closed Sunday evening. I apologized to the chefs when they returned to prepare dinner for not being hungry for dinner. Oh to be there for tonight's dinner.

www.carolynmillerart.com

  • Stayed September 2009, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Weymouth
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 5, 2009

My husband and I went with ten people. My daughter her boyfriend. My best friend and her husband and two friends and their daughter and her boyfriend. The Villa is absolutely gorgeous!!! Very friendly. Very clean. The restaurant is awesome. The food is delicous. The scenery is outstanding! The ocean is beautiful!!! We would go again in a heartbeat. Can't wait.

  • Stayed August 2009
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Borgo San Francesco

Address: Contrada San Francesco 102, 98063 Gioiosa Marea, Sicily, Italy
Location: Italy > Sicily > Province of Messina > Gioiosa Marea
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 10 B&Bs / Inns in Gioiosa Marea
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:4 star — Borgo San Francesco 4*
Number of rooms: 10
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The 4-star Borgo San Francesco is a newly restored charming residence with a cluster of little villas (once farm houses) and private patios and gardens that have an exclusive feel to them. There is also a pool conveniently situated where the sun always shines and a charming restaurant with floor to ceiling windows that greatly enhance the eating experience during the summer. Our restaurant is committed to making sure you experience the full plethora of Sicilian foods and wine, serving above all, country- style local dishes. We specialize in the essence of traditional, local cuisine using only the freshest products sometimes grown only a few km from the Borgo. While being immersed in this enveloping atmosphere, one is also in close proximity to the charming seaside town of Gioiosa Marea (only 4 km away, of mostly straight roads) and can conveniently visit other areas of Sicily while using our Borgo as a base for planning trips, as well as a calm, serene place to return to. There is also a common room with a fireplace, a reading area with many books and maps on the area and the island on whole and internet point. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Borgo San Francesco Sicily/Gioiosa Marea, Italy

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