Stumbled upon by mythical Odysseus but hastily left due to the native Cyclops, we found Sicily to be a paradise of sun, sea, sand and olive groves. One that no Cyclops could chase us from. Flee to the countryside, slumber by the sea and visit the shabby-chic city of Palermo. You’ll see every edge of this triangular island renowned for its friendly people in one of our favourite ten-night escapades.
Start your trip in style with a two-night stay just outside Sicily’s capital, Palermo, at the Art Nouveau Villa Igiea. Designed by 19th-century architect Ernesto Basile, each of the rooms are uniquely decorated in warm hues and boast sea and garden views. Decorated with frescoes, the Bar des Arcades is the perfect hangout spot. Take a cappuccino here in the morning, fresh Sicilian orange juice throughout the day and limoncello into the evening. Raise a glass to your first evening in Italia with a coastline cruise, watching as the sun sets over this Mediterranean jewel while sipping a glass of perfectly chilled champagne.
Over the next couple of days, experience the nitty-gritty of Sicily in Palermo. A mish-mash of Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque and Arabic architecture, this town is full of charm. Visit the remarkable Cathedral whose construction began in 1185 and the Palazzo dei Normanni which was the seat of the kings of Sicily during Norman domination. In the evening, you’ll hop on the back of a Vespa and whizz through the loud, colourful markets, stopping off to sample the mouthwatering street food – cooked fresh in front of you. Cannoli anyone? Top it all off with a romantic table for two at one of our favourite hidden spots in town.Read more
Western Farmhouse Retreat
From the buzz of Palermo you’ll then spend three tranquil nights at the gorgeously rustic Masseria Mandranova hotel. Stylishly converted, the hotel is made up of an old farmhouse, converted railway station and mill house surrounded by century old olive trees. An agricultural escape from your hectic life, this haven offers you true Sicilian hospitality and a super relaxed environment. You simply cannot miss a private tour of the olive groves. This local “azienda agricola” (organic farm) produces some of the best olive oil of the island, as you’ll soon discover on a tasting. Pick your favourites, and we’ll organise for a selection to be sent home for you. To complement this most Italian of experiences, join one of the hotel chefs in the kitchen for a traditional pasta making course. Whipping it all up in time for lunch, enjoy the most rustic of Italian meals in the most beautiful of settings.
Just a short hop away from Masseria Mandranova, you’ll spend the next two nights in Agrigento at the charming Villa Athena. Boasting quite possibly the most exclusive location in Sicily, Villa Athena combines chic interiors with ancient wonders just outside your window in the famous Valley of Temples. This UNESCO archaeological wonderland is home to eight grand temples which date back over two thousand five hundred years. Of course, spend some time unwinding by the pool or taking a boat trip and diving into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean, but you can’t ignore what’s (literally) right on your doorstep. We’ll organise for you to discover this backdrop to ancient civilisations on a private tour of the Valley. Walk through the ruins, the almond groves and the olive trees before coming to a stop at Kolymbetra’s Garden. Here, you’ll enjoy the most exclusive of chic-nics (trust us, it’s that fabulous), savouring local Sicilian produce in the most memorable of settings. You’ll almost forget the chaotic city life you left at home.
Eastern Seaside Escape
Feeling fully refreshed, you’ll then whizz down to your final stop on the eastern coast at the luscious Grand Timeo Hotel. Perched on the hills of Taormina, expect elaborate Baroque style, plush furnishings and one-off antiques in your spacious room. Sit back on your private terrace or people watch by the pool sipping a Bellini, revelling in the views across the Bay of Taormina.
Spend your days at the hotel’s Wellness Centre and enrich yourself with the powers of this volcanic island’s flower and fruit essences. Take an afternoon horseback riding through the hills, set sail with local fishermen or chill on one of Taormina’s many beaches. Hole up on Isola Bella beach, tucked away in a little cove with a small causeway out on a nearby island. Just adjacent to the hotel is the ancient Greek theatre which is still a hubbub for evening entertainment; see a ballet, cabaret shows or a rock concert, whatever takes your fancy. There is no better place to end your Sicilian sojourn, but, unlike Odyssesus, we’re fairly sure you’re going to want to stay forever.