15 questions with Camping & Village Rais Gerbi
Where are you located? Tell us a little about yourself and your campsite
Surrounded by lush Mediterranean vegetation, Rais Gerbi covers 4 hectares on the Tyrrhenian coast of Sicily. Our site is located at the foot of the Madonie National Park mountains, just 14 km from Cefalù, and is comprised of terraces that descend toward the sea. This location is ideal for those seeing a quiet, relaxing holiday and for those looking to discover more about our territory and its culture.
We’re the Cerrito family and we’re a team both in life and in work. We’ve been running Camping & Village Rais Gerbi for over 30 years now. The campsite was built by Papa Enzo in 1984 and is now in its second generation, run by our daughters Cettina, Anna Maria and Stefania, although the heads of the family Mimma and Enzo still play very important roles in the family business.
What do you think is unique about your campsite?
For us, three things come to mind: authenticity, honesty and links to the local environment. What makes us unique is definitely our local roots, given that three generations of us have been born and raised in the area. With the help of our staff, it’s our mission to not only offer guests accommodation, but also to provide them with local knowledge and the opportunity to live with us and relate with the local population. We try to offer our guests the chance to experience their holiday in a whole new way.
Is there a particular type of camper who would love to stay at your campsite?
Our campsite is a favourite among families with children, couples and solo travellers. Those who choose to stay at Camping Rais Gerbi are not looking for trendy entertainment and big crowds. We’ve tried hard to avoid becoming a noisy all-inclusive tourist village; in fact, we prefer to think of ourselves as a ‘silent’ campsite… The location of the campsite is also very popular with outdoor sports enthusiasts who enjoy activities such as Nordic walking, hiking, paragliding, cycling and snorkelling.
What do your guests appreciate about staying at your campsite? Do you have any quotes or testimonials to share?
We’ve received several wonderful reviews from TripAdvisor. Here are just a few:
- “Great food, great facilities, total relaxation, very well-maintained rooms and exterior. I hope to return next year also because of the staff, who were very helpful to any request.”
- “I stayed 4 nights with a tent and a camper. The owners are very polite, I found the bathrooms always clean, the pitches are spacious and some even have a sink, and for us this was very important. Free hot water. We will definitely be back.”
- “This campsite is simply fantastic! The campsite is located in a wonderful area by the sea, near Pollina, with easy access to Cefalù. The bathroom area is divided between men and women and includes toilets, hot showers and washbasins. Super clean. The sinks for washing dishes, vegetables and fish are well signposted and, unlike many campsites, are equipped with hot water. There is a washing machine and tumble dryer with a 5-euro token. The washing machine and tumble dryer are in the bathroom area, which is well-separated from the living area and can also be used at night. There is a well-maintained recycling centre near the entrance to the campsite. The pitches have access to electricity with a key that is pre-loaded with 30 euros and is charged according to consumption with no power limits. The pitches are all shaded by pine trees. There are no permanent caravans, but bungalows of various types. There is a large swimming pool with a sea view, as well as a bar, restaurant, mini-market, football pitch and children’s playground. Pets allowed.”
- “A family-run campsite with staff who are very friendly and attentive to customer needs. We will be back! Fantastic experience.”
Tell us a little about your area. What is it famous for, why should people visit, and what activity should be at the top of the visitors’ list?
By choosing to spend your holiday in this area of western Sicily, you can enjoy beautiful crystal-clear sea, green mountains, clean and fresh air and above all, the culture and traditions of the lower Madonie mountains. The Madonie National Park is known as the ‘green lungs of Sicily’ and is full of well-trodden hiking, biking and horse-riding trails. But above all, you must visit the beautiful medieval villages of the Madonie such as Cefalu, Gangi, Petralia Sottana, and Petralia Soprana. Trying the local specialities and immersing yourself in the true Sicilian atmosphere of these villages should be at the top of our guests’ to-do list.
What can you tell people about your area that they might not have read in a guidebook?
Our area is brimming with unspoilt nature, ancient villages to visit, mountains, a fabulous sea and countless cultural and architectural treasures! But what you won’t find in a guidebook are all the authentic local experiences that guests can enjoy in our area. Such as, for instance, visiting ‘Pastor Antonio’, learning to bake bread at the home of ‘Signora Giulia’, learning the art of embroidery with the ‘ladies of embroidery’, shopping at the farm to prepare a typical local dish at the home of a family, and other activities that you would easily miss out on without the help of a local insider (us!).
Tell us a bit about your favourite restaurants and food in your area? What do you like to eat there – is there a speciality/typical dish you would recommend?
We have an onsite restaurant that serves local specialities as well as typical Italian dishes. Our favourite food is definitely the food we handmake here in our kitchens. From this year, thanks to our decision to move towards a type tourism that places authentic experiences at its core, our guests will also be able to enter our kitchens and ‘put their hands in the dough’ to help make and taste our most authentic tradition and live a truly unforgettable experience.
Are you also a camper? What have been your favourite camping holidays in the past or the campsites you have stayed at?
I hugely enjoy camping. My favourite camping holiday was definitely the time when I took my campervan to Austria and adventured into the heart of nature for a trekking holiday. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the campsite I stayed at! It was a small campsite from where a large number of hiking trails started.
How have you seen the world of camping change in the last year?
Guests are no longer satisfied with a few basic services. When they go to a camping village or a campsite, they want an authentic, memorable experience in nature combined with easy access to high-quality facilities, services and amenities.
What news are you preparing for the year 2021?
For 2021, our focus is very much on offering experiential tourism, made up of unique and authentic encounters, rather than classic, somewhat surface-level tourism. This is what today’s holidaymakers are looking for! Something real and genuine that will remain in the memory of our guests forever, that will make them want to stay at our campsite for a few more nights and, above all, will leave a permanent mark on their souls.
How does the idea of opening your own campsite next season make you feel, given the Covid-19 situation?
The 2021 season will be challenging but we’re ready to face it with determination and optimism. In 2020, the spaciousness of our campsite and the professionalism of all our staff enabled us to ensure a safe, high-quality camping experience and this will also be the case for the 2021 season.
What are your best tips or advice for campers – new and experienced?
Our advice is that a camping holiday is a great time to discover qualities about ourselves that the comfort of our everyday lives, technology and the hectic times we live in have made us forget. Whether it’s in a tent, camper van or bungalow, choosing to camp takes us directly into another dimension: where things are calmer, simpler, more flexible and we are closer to nature. It’s one of the easiest, healthiest ways to reconnect with nature, breathe deeply and live at a slower pace.
What are the best or strangest pieces of kit you have seen guests bring?
The strangest item we’ve seen so far was the world’s smallest washing machine! It was a bag that you fill with soap and water, put your clothes in and scrub from the outside of the bag for three minutes to do a complete wash.
Do you have any funny situations you have seen or experienced with campers that you could share?
Something rather special was a German guest who arrived at the campsite in a caravan pulled by a tractor! Another amusing sight was a guest who converted their Piaggio Ape (a small three-wheeled vehicle adapted from the Vespa scooter) into a campervan.
We would love to publish more of your stories for the CampInn community, if you would like to share your own experiences of camping please contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.