A personal account from Treasures and Secrets of Sicily
I was fortunate to visit Sicily and stay in 3 contrasting and wonderful hotels featured on our Treasures & Secrets of Sicily tour which all coped admirably with ‘Covid’ restrictions to create a safe and rewarding experience – indeed everything we wanted to see was open and the only hiccup was caused by weather, a storm that stopped us from visiting Stromboli.
Villa Favorita is my favourite countryside hotel. The 18th-century villa of the Di Lorenzo barons of Granieri marquis of Castelluccio is still run by the original family with wonderful cuisine and service. The manor entrance leads through an almond tree boulevard to the original mansion and the restaurant overlooks a citrus grove running down to the sea. As well as visits to ‘Inspector Montalbano’s’ home, office and other locations I enjoyed relaxing at the hotel and nearby Noto and Lido di Noto. A highlight was the ‘Sicily from the Inside’ tour of Ragusa with a learned guide and lunch at Montalbano’s restaurant!
Located on the Aeolian Island of Vulcano the contemporary 5-star Therasia Hotel has an amazing location and the upgrade to sea view worthwhile for amazing views of all the Aeolian Islands which varied according to time of day and especially when lit by lightning during a thunderstorm! Vulcano is a fascinating island – we enjoyed the walk to the port from Vulcanello peninsula and the climb up the ‘Vulcano’ (quite demanding but worthwhile to see the smoking crater and enjoy views of all the islands – best undertaken early morning, allow 3 hours in total). We enjoyed the architecture and atmosphere of nearby Lipari town but did not manage the cruise to Stromboli this time.
Hotel Sonia had fine views of Taormina and Mount Etna and we took the short walk to Castelmola centre for refreshment and even better views. We walked to DH Lawrence’s house but nothing to see – more interesting was a tour of Casa Cuseni, home of Robert Kitson and subject of his niece’s book, ‘A House in Sicily’ where he hosted many artists and literary figures. We took the cable car and bus up to Mount Etna and were rewarded by a magnificent display of black, white and red mini-eruptions! ‘The Godfather’ village and café of Savoca was a great insight into Sicilian life.