Out of Office: Notes from Sicily
Enjoy the latest travel tips from our Italy villa experts, Margherita and Saffo.
How do we get our incredible travel tips? Through these posts. As our experts are out visiting the destinations featured in our portfolio, they share with us the best activities, newest attractions, and their favorite villas, supplying us (and you) with an up-to-date account of the areas.
Destination: Sicily, Italy
What We Saw:
On our past trips to Sicily, we’ve flown into the airport in Catania…but this time, we decided to take a different route. We touched down instead on the mainland, at the Reggio di Calabria Airport, allowing us to glimpse the stunning straight of Messina and the island from the other side of the coast.
After crossing the sea by ferry, we drove around the island, marveling at its natural beauty and jarring juxtaposition of old and new. Byzantine ruins, ancient treasures, and superb baroque towns somehow find balance on an island with all the hallmarks of city life – traffic, modern architecture, and (sometimes) even litter-strewn streets. It’s these startling contrasts that make Sicily completely unique, and completely beautiful.
Often hailed as a summer beach resort, Sicily is really a destination for all seasons. There’s always something new to discover, as the charming villages, bustling cities, and diverse landscape provide plenty to do and see year-round.
Where We Stayed: Villa Altera
Between Catania and Siracusa sits Villa Altera, a historical aristocratic mansion that’s proof of Sicily’s past golden age. On the grounds, there’s a private botanical garden personally curated by its owner, the very charmant Marquise. We found ourselves getting happily lost among rare and remarkable plants – citrus trees, aromatic herbs, waterlilies, and fragrant flowers.
The villa is well kept by an attentive staff and the food is prepared by the Marquise’s personal chef, whose menu includes centuries-old family recipes. Guests of the villa are also personally attended by the Princess, the Marquise’s daughter.
For an informal lunch or dinner, try I Rizzari on the beach of Brucoli, about a 25-minute drive from Villa Altera. At this trattoria, you’ll taste the freshest catches of the day, while your feet almost touch the water. Everything is prepared using local recipes and served on the terrace with a striking view of the bay. Their specialty – spaghetti with sea urchins – is not to miss.