Southern Italy is overflowing with abandoned buildings and Sicily is no exception. Among those, hotels are not seldom. Seeing this favorable situation, we have decided to test a couple of those to relieve our wallet and entertain you, my readers, with an adventure at the same time! There was a little complication though – what was meant to be a comfortable way of spending the night, turned into a test of courage for the little fearful me…
I enjoy a horror story (or two) every once in a while. However, easily scared as I am, exploring the chilly rooms of a hotel at night was giving me more goose bumps than I have bargained for. First the reception with dust settling on keyless hooks, then the lobby with an empty bar…
…but let me start right from the beginning:
Erice – a medieval fairytale
Erice is a cute hilltop town with narrow streets smelling of pastry shops and Mediterranean lifestyle. People typically come here with a cablecar from Trapani, walk around for a day and go back the same way, getting to enjoy a spectacular seaside sunset over the salt fields, if they are lucky.
However, me being the extreme budget girl I am and my husband still counting prices in Colombian pesos (read: “5 euros? I can get food for one day with that money!”), we chose to hike up and camp instead for opting for a fancy day.
The hike itself was made easy with a bit of luck and if you want to do the same, you can find more details about that in the post dedicated to the town of Erice:
A Night At The Abandoned Hotel
We got to the top of the hill just a few minutes after the sunset; looking for a place to pitch our tent, we saw a chance to get something better. Much to our surprise, the travel gods rewarded us with an unexpected upgrade!
Instead of facing the challenging wind, we opted for a comfy hotel with a magnificent view. Also, we didn´t pay a cent – it only cost us the effort of crossing the halfheartedly obstructed entrance. After dark, it got colder quickly; with our hearts racing, we threw our backpacks in first and then stirred the dust ourselves, jumping right in.
Read more: The weirdest places I have ever slept at
A Ghostly Welcome
The building is big and we hear screeching and thuds from above as we slowly walk upstairs. The furniture in most of the rooms is gone, only the bathrooms remain more or less untouched. My heart beats too fast and I feel my cheeks get hot from the adrenaline.
One by one, we open the doors and peek inside each room to make sure we are alone here. The howling of the wind gets louder as we tiptoe towards the end of the hallway; a window slams closed and open and closed again as the air swishes through and the curtains flow wildly outside of its frame. We close it and go on. An improvised bed from pieces of wood and dirty cloth stands in one of the corners. This is unsettling; will someone else come here for the night? We examine the room but it doesn´t seem that anyone has been here recently and there is no human smell either. The smell cannot hold a secret: it always tells if an abandoned place has inhabitants.
Sweet-ish, sweat-ish smell reminding of old food getting bad, stale beer and croaky laughs…
I inhale and try to calm down with not much success.
It´s my first time at squatting but I quickly realize the best part of it; you don´t have to set. The. Fucking. Tent. You don´t have to unpack if it´s still summer. You don´t have to struggle to fit your oversized sleeping bag back into the bottom of your backpack in the morning. (Or is it just me?) If anybody catches you and you need to get the hell out of there as fast as your sleepy feet + dizzy head allow, you only have to grab your shawl and the rest and hurry away, quickly.
An so we go through four stories, all satisfyingly empty, until we settle for what is seemingly the cleanest and least windy spot.
A View Worth of Gods
Before getting abandoned, this hotel must have known a better time. The view is magic; lights of Trapani unfold around the dark bay and in the morning, the salt fields appear. I imagine the hotel lit up and filled with guests, cheesy Italian pop playing in the dining room as all those Danish families and international couples (somewhat like us) trickle through the shiny glass doors and later on, when the stars are up, sound of chatter and small giggles fill the air around the pool, now empty and invisible in the dark.
We lie down on our sleeping mat spread over the dusty carpet. I turn around several times. My hip hurts uncomfortably; I hold my breath and listen to the weird creaking in the walls. When I am almost falling asleep, I hear footsteps and I feel a lightning-fast cramp of fear spread in my stomach. I keep fidgeting. I listen to the howling wind.
After The Sleepless Night
I hardly slept during those dark, nervous hours; shouts and sounds of cars woke me up suddenly in the morning.
The sun is up, I realize! I feel happy the night is over, happy to pack and leave. I glance out through the dirty windowpane and stumble over my feet as I back off into the room. There is an old guy hanging around the pool! I say. I think he saw me. We hastily pack and dash downstairs. The reception doesn´t look so scary in the daylight.
We grab one of the plastic bottles of water forgotten there for years and throw the backpacks out of the entrance, then jump right after them. A guy in front of the hotel is managing cars circling around the parking lot, looking for a free spot. He shoots a short look our way but doesn´t seem to care. We´re out.
We walk towards the beautiful, medieval town of Erice along with many others, tourists and drivers of old cars, getting ready for today´s race. I open the water we snatched from the reception; it has an awful plastic taste and expiration date in 2011. Huge sun is shining yellow on the blue canvas of Sicilian sky.
Read more: 10 Breathtaking Urbex Spots Around the World
Have you ever spent a night in an abandoned building? Were you scared? Would you ever squat? Share your story with me in the comments section!
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We are hitchhiking from Europe to India and we didn´t prepare a single thing – stick around to see if we can make it! You can cheer us on if you think we´ll get there, or laugh about us if we don´t.