We had no idea what to expect, as we arrived in Lampedusa at 9:00 at night, but Giuseppe was right there to pick us up. Everyone is soooo layed back, as we were to find out. Lampedusa has a very special and unique mentality, that I have not found anywhere else. My husband speaks excellent Italian, so we were able to really feel what this island was all about. There were only two other families there at the time, so it was totally quiet at night. It is a complex with beautiful trees, (rare on Lampedusa), shrubs, and many different kinds of flora. The cottages are actually double, connecting with another. They are very roomy and spacious, easily 80 square meters for a two bedroom like we had. There was also a large porch with a hammock, where my daughter and I swung and talked about life. Everything was amazingly clean and tidy, with very nice Italian terra cotta tiles throughout. The one thing that the mother didn't mention beforehand, is that you are responsible for your own toilet paper. So here we were, without toilet paper on a Saturday night. My husband asked Giuseppe if he could have some, and he said no, it is our responsibility. Hello???!!!!! Anyway, our incredibly kind neighbors gave us a roll until Monday. Residence d'Alba is definitely not a hotel in terms of always having people around to ask for things that you need (Giuseppe was there about 4 hours a day) it is more like a group of self-containing cottages and a common clubhouse to eat breakfast in. We checked out apartments to rent in the area, and they were the same price, without the excellent coffee! I loved our little house, and felt very comfortable there. The breakfast was good, with three different kinds of croissants, one filled with creme, one with jam and one plain, fresh fruit, yoghurt, bread and different crackers. The excellent coffee w included.
Another interesting thing about Residence d'Alba, is how they go about renting cars. We had arranged to rent a car before we came to them, and as as we arrived, Giuseppe pointed out our car. Tryiing to drive it was like doing your daily exercise. No power steering, rusty, dirty, no seat belts or shocks and on their roads, my daughter was freaking out because she had to sit in the back. So we said we are paying 150 Euro a week for a car, and would like a "normal" car. The second car we got was a little bit better (just to say, all three were Fiats, all progressively newer than the other), but still very dirty with many dents and still no seat belts. The third car (you need alot of patience) was a "normal" Fiat with 44,000 km, power steering, seatbelts and air conditioning! They decided that we didn't have to pay an upcharge for the "nice" car .What we learned was, it is normal not to have seatbelts on Lampedusa, and people actually tell you that you don't need them! They park just how they want to, all over the place without straightening out there cars and they just open their car doors and don't look. People just watch out for eachother. The locals say the roads are bad, you can't drive so fast anyway, so who needs helmuts and seatbelts? It is pointless to get worked up on Lampedusa, because people would just say it is not a problem, Tranquilla! These details don't matter to them, People are also very honest there, at the Residence d'Alba all the keys are left in the cars and the doors are unlocked. Even the stray dogs are so loved by the people! There are 5 that hang out on Via Roma and are fed by the restaurants. They are all excellent natured and also so laid back. They just walk beside you for 25 meters and then go there own way. There are also two at Rabbit Beach that are harmless. They are fed by the fishermen who bring them their scraps. It is hard to believe that last August they had 50,000 visitors! All of Italy is off the month of August. I wouldn't like to be there then.... The beaches are more like coves, except for Guija (sp.) which is in the town. You have to walk about 25 minutes to reach the Rabbit Beach, but it is just as beautiful as the pictures. The water is totally clear, and the sand lovely. The other beaches you also had to walk down to, but not so far, maybe 5 minutes. The water was also nice there but we didn't visit, so I don't know more. There are no services available at the beaches after probably September, so bring stuff. Also the restaurants start closing the first or second week of October, even though many were still open towards the end of October.
My daughter hurt her foot and it was bleeding pretty badly, so we took her to their "hospital". Actually, it is a clinic, as their is no hospital and anyone with anything serious has to be flown to Palermo. They also don't deliver babies there, so the poor women have to stay in Palermo until their baby is born! They were extremely kind and also very laid back. As I asked about a Tetanus shot, they said you only have to do it every 10 years, and I don't need to worry about it. It had been 10 years since the last shot, so I wanted to do it. I called Switzerland, and they said it is 10 years if there are no incidents, but 5 years if something happens. So we had to buy it at thedrugstore, because they didn't have it at the clinic. Everything was free! All three visits and the shot.
Another thing, some shop owners don't always follow their posted shop hours, even th
ough they state they are open in the mornings from 9-1 and in the afternoon from 5-8, they may not open at all in the afternoon. I guess it all depends how many people are around. We found the food stores are always open at the posted hours.
I learned alot about myself from Lampedusa, how to take life easier and not to worry so much about things. It was kind of a shock to come back to the real world!
I think I met 2 or 3 people that spoke English, thank goodness my husband was always around, even though it annoyed the heck out of him that I always had to ask!