If you've ever dreamed of living in a cave in Sicily, now is your chance.
In the Sicilian town of Scicli, in the province of Ragusa, you can purchase your own cave for 40,000 euro, approximately $46,000. It sits on a path leading to the archeological park of Chiafura Caves. The cave is 120 square meters with 2 levels and totally renovated. Judging by these photos, the phrase 'totally renovated' is very subjective.
Scicli's history can be traced back to 1500 BC, but like most of Sicily it has changed hands numerous times over the centuries. The Greeks, the Arabs and the Normans all controlled Sicily at one time before becoming part of Italy in 1860. Sadly, the earthquake of 1693 destroyed most of Scicli. Due to the popular Baroque architecture at this time, the city was rebuilt in this style.
The poor people in the region dug out caves in the rock and used them as their homes as recently as the 1950's.
We visited a cave owned by Raimondo Carmelo, who created a little museum dedicated to his grandparents, who lived in the cave with their 5 daughters. He had collected many artifacts from the time, including a babies bassinet, which was hung over the bed and swung gently with a rope.
He explained that his daughters all slept in the loft together. When they retired for the evening, he took away the ladder so they would stay safe. I'm not sure they would be very safe if a fire broke out in the cave though.
In one of the 2 rooms lived their livestock; chickens, a cow and a mule. There was no running water, so the family used a little ceramic pot as their potty. Mama emptied it in the morning. I can imagine the smell of the toilet and the animals added to a very pungent odor inside the cave in the evening.
Raimondo explained to us that Sicily shunned cave living in the 1950's because they didn't want other countries to think they were still in the cave age, i.e. the Flintstones. They offered these residents other living options.
Recently, the caves have become popular again. People who buy them are putting fronts on them, with windows and a roof. You wouldn't know there was a cave behind the facade.
They've become popular as vacation rentals. Airbnb is offering a cave for rent in Scicli for 45 euro per night. It's called the Orange Grotto and is ideal for a couple seeking 'relaxation and intimacy'.
A cave rental would not be my choice first choice for a family vacation. As much as I love my kids, I could never be stuck in a cave with them for a week with no internet.
But the idea of being without a computer and iPhone does have its appeal. It would give me a taste of what life was like hundreds of years ago in a beautiful, timeless part of Sicily.
I would just keep the farm animals outside.
Ciao for now