I think in Italian you are spot on the money in terms of meaning. As 'mi piace' does literally mean 'pleases me' or 'pleasing to me'
But in English 'it gives me pleasure' can sound a bit awkward in everyday informal speech, which is probably why Duolingo prefers 'I like'.
But I do like the way you are thinking literally. I find it very helpful when learning languages to take that literal approach. :)
I find it helpful to remember that essare is like someone/thing's essence (Le sedie sono rosse, Io sono da solo), and that stare can be replaced with "stay" or "feel" (Io sto bene (I am/feel well), La sedia sta in cucina (the chair is/stays in the kitchen)). Here's someone's random blog that probably knows more than I do: http://blogs.transparent.com/italian/essere-o-stare/
there is a thin difference, not always perceived even by the Italians: "solo" is who is excluded or cut out by him/herself from the company of other people, "da solo" = without the presence or the help of other people: "Viaggio solo" (I prefer not to have company) , "l'ho fatto da solo" (without the help of nobody: you can not say "l'ho fatto solo")
I can't help much but perhaps this link would answer our question about the differences between "sola" and "da sola".