Warmth of Sicily shines at Hotel Guglielmo II


Norman King William II “The Good” brought a period of peace to the tumultuous history of Sicily, and today his namesake, the Hotel Guglielmo II, offers its own richness and tranquility to guests in historic Monreale some 15 minutes from downtown Palermo.

Tourists from the US, Europe and Asia come to Monreale, a little town that offers a special fusion of wind, sea, light and extraordinary architecture. They visit its magnificently adorned cathedral, one of the great sights of Norman Sicily, a church founded in 1172 by William II and given to a monastery of the Benedictine Order. The founder and king is buried there.
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The imposing golden mosaic of Christ Pantocrator dominates the UNESCO World Heritage Monreale Catheral, so large that he looks at you whatever your position inside the church.

The Hotel Guglielmo II has an outstanding location only few hundred meters from the world-famous cathedral. With 27 rooms and a rotating banquet hall, the hotel is renowned for its value and services. It has a dedicated core of returning clientele that appreciates the hotel’s hospitality and care, a tone set by owner Giancarlo Bisconti.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Duomo of Monreale was the inspiration of William II, who wanted to rival the power of the Archbishop of Palermo. The grandson of Roger II, the Viking-Norman conqueror of Sicily and Calabria, William II helped protect the Catholic faith by expanding a modest church founded on Monte Caputo when the Arabs invaded Palermo.

Today the Duomo of Monreale, which is also called Santa Maria La Nuova, is considered second to only St. Sofia in Istanbul for Byzantine beauty — and some contend it deserves the title of the finest church in the world due to its extraordinary mosaics designed by Sicilian, Venetian and Byzantine artists.

The imposing golden mosaic of Christ Pantocrator (the all-powerful Christ) dominates the vault as ruler of the world in all his kindly omnipotence. So large that just the blessing fingers on his right hand are two meters long, he looks at you whatever your position inside the church. With the left hand, he holds a book that says both in Greek and Latin: “I am the Light of the world, and who follows me does not walk in darkness.”
Hotel Guglielmo II
The Guglielmo II meets the expectation of travelers seeking international 4-star comfort without compromising on enjoying the island’s Sicilian identity.

The rich Arab-Norman history of Palermo attracts hundreds of thousands tourists every year. Because the Hotel Guglielmo II’s owner was born in Palermo, one of the foremost heritage cities in Europe, he is keenly aware of the beauty of the city and its surroundings.

He is also dedicated demonstrating the warmth of the local culture. “We Sicilians are very welcoming,” says the 65-year-old Giancarlo. “We believe in friendship – we are generous hearted people and tourists are ‘sacred’ to us Sicilians!”

The Hotel Guglielmo II has its roots in a rotating restaurant that offers a 360-degree panorama of the ancient town and its exquisite cathedral. From the impressive dining salon, you can see the Port of Palermo, the resort areas of Casteldaccia, Aspra, Cape Mongerbino, Mondello and also the Punta Sant’Elia.

“On the sunniest days, you can even see the Aelonian Islands, especially Alicudi and Filicudi,” says Giancarlo. “While on the other side of the rotating dining room, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Duomo of Monreale.”

Giancarlo bought the restaurant and property last year, then refined it into Monreale’s only 4-star hotel.
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Blue on blue: Hotel swimming pool and the azure Mediterranean sea and sky.

He is now building a wellness center and a beauty salon to help pamper guests and adding a meeting room with a spacious and open feel, making the hotel ideal for weddings and large or more intimate meetings.

He is also reaching out to America to show his warmth and generosity.

“I want people to know that Sicily is not about the mafia,” he says. “This reputation disturbs us and we would like to have American tourists enjoy the magnificence of our Sicily.”

Part of his approach is a compelling cost-value ratio. Even in the high season, rooms are priced at just 65 to 100 euros depending on the size. A double room costs 80 euros with a super breakfast included in the price. It’s a feast of flavors, from the epically sweet cannoli filled with ricotta to other sublime pastries and local cakes such as cornetti and cassate.

“And we have no double pricing system. International tourists get the same price as locals,” he says. “To live and eat well in Sicily is cheaper. The cost of a rich Sicilian espresso is just a dollar,” says Giancarlo.

He can now lavish attention and funding on the hotel after he retired from his main business, the largest car dealership in Palermo. Now run by his daughter, Gibiauto SPA sells Fords, Renaults, Dacias and Peugeots. Because of that, Giancarlo can provide his guests car rental services of the highest quality at the very best prices.
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The hotel's rotating dining room offers a panorama of mountains, sea, the city of Palermo and Monreale Cathedral.

In addition, the hotel offers free use of an outdoor swimming pool and a shuttle service to and from Palermo airport as part of its park-and-fly packages.

The hotel restaurant is one of the best in town and is surprisingly affordable. You can have a Lucullan dinner at 25 euros. Run by a Sicilian chef, it serves traditional local food and also international cuisine. Upon request, Giancarlo offers lunch to larger groups of people.

The Guglielmo II is a comfortable hotel that meets the expectation of travelers seeking international 4-star comfort without compromising the island’s Sicilian identity.