Luxury places to visit in Sicily
When it comes to beautiful holiday destinations to visit, the world really is your oyster. From the white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters of the Maldives to the sprawling rainforests and natural wildlife of Costa Rica, there’s something for everyone – but one country trumps them all when it comes to the most diverse range of picturesque seaside resorts, intriguing culture and history, and breath-taking natural scenery. Yes, that’s right – Italy has got it all, and if there’s one area you need to visit in 2019 then it’s the autonomous region of Sicily.
Located just off the toe of Italy’s ‘boot’, Sicily is an island awash with rich Mediterranean culture, Greek temples, Norman churches and Baroque palazzos. Its natural beauty is not to be sniffed at, either – and the craters of Mount Etna and the relatively untouched beaches of the southern coast make it a well-rounded destination that will tick all the right boxes.
With its mild climate and picturesque coastline, there’s a lot to love about the island – and If you’re looking for luxury villas, Sicily has got them by the bucket-load. Take your pick from one of these glamorous destinations this summer, and make 2019 a year you won’t forget.
In the northwest corner of Sicily, between the pretty town of Castellammare de Golfo and the Zingaro nature reserve, the fascinating village of Scopello can be found, centred around a fortified farmstead and now home to a smattering of restaurants, a café and shop. It’s about as far removed from big city life as you can get, but that’s all part of its charm; this 18th century area once provided shelter for local landowners’ animals and workers, but nowadays, it’s all about al fresco dining, enchanting sea views and a charmed experience indeed.
For the past few years now, this low-key destination has been in vogue with trendsetters including film directors and magazine photographers alike. Even so, it remains relatively untapped by the masses, making it an enjoyable and picturesque spot for a swim, a leisurely meal or an afternoon excursion – and the perfect place to find a luxurious hideaway.
The luxurious Villa Perla is a located in a peaceful residential area of Castellammare del Golfo, just 200m from the breath-taking beach at Guidaloca. Beautifully designed and with perfectly manicured gardens, it offers the utmost in luxury for your stay. (8 guests, from € 3.180/week)
Villa del Sole, meanwhile, is set within a sprawling lawned garden edged with palm trees, and boasts its own swimming pool and furnished terraces which offer panoramic views of the sea below. (9 guests, € 3.120/week).
A tiny fishing village in the province of Agrigento, western Sicily, Porto Palo di Menfi oozes a sophistication and charm that is all its own. This part of Sicily is one of the richest archaeological areas in all of Italy, and its alternating planes and hills make for a picturesque vista where they slope gently downward to a breath-takingly beautiful white, sandy beach.
There are few better places to experience the laid-back, traditional culture of the island, and located just 75 kilometres from the world-famous Valley of the Temples, this sleepy historical town offers up more than you might first think. It’s the perfect place from which to explore the fascinating archaeological ruins of Sicily – but close enough to a breath-taking coastline with the kind of paradise beaches and azure waters that are certain to put a smile on any sun worshipper’s face.
This part of Sicily is famous for its mouth-watering variety of fresh seafood, and is also one of the largest grape-growing regions in Italy – the Mazara Valley. Visit the local wineries, such as the renowned Planeta, to try some of the local varieties yourself – it’s a great way to while away a Sicilian afternoon.
Essence (6 guests, from € 3.870/week) is a modern, stylish and utterly magnificent luxury villa with sweeping views over the Portopalo seascape. Its large picture windows allow the spacious interior to open directly out onto the terraces and swimming pool.
Comprising a large light and airy open-plan living space, the elegant country treat of Le Cicale (8 guests, from € 1.610/week) is just a stone’s throw from Planeta – one of Sicily’s most samous vineyards – and is also close to the fabulous unspoilt beaches of Menfi.
The beautiful country villa of I Cipressi (10 guests, from € 3.290/week) enjoys a privileged hilltop location with views of the Menfi coastline. Surrounded by olive groves, this luxury villa is bathed in plenty of natural light, with lots of outdoor space for dining and relaxing.
Baglio delle Oche (8 guests, from 3.650/week) is a lovingly restored ancient farmhouse nestled in the Menfi countryside. Set in 7 hectares of farmland, where grapes and artichokes are grown, highlights include a 5 x 12 swimming pool and pretty shaded verandas.
One of Europe’s biggest archaeological parks, history buffs will be in their element at the Selinunte Archaeological Park. Its isolated ruins have stood abandoned for many years, comprising Greek temples, ancient town walls and country paths. With some areas of the area yet to be excavated, it’s awash with an air of intrigue and mystery – and with its coastal location in the south-western corner of Sicily, where it is backed by azure seas and picturesque vistas, there’s a lot to love about this beautiful place.
For a truly memorable experience, take a walk along the coastal path to the park at sunset – it’s a breath-taking sight to behold, and one that will stay with you for years to come. By day, luxuriate on the sandy beaches, dine on mouth-watering local cuisine and enjoy the peace and quiet of this stunning seaside location
The luxurious Selinunte Retreat (8 guests, from € 2.350/week) is just 1km from the stunning sands and village of Marinella di Selinunte. Surrounded by olive groves, it is furnished in an opulent Sicilian style and offers a spacious hideaway for your luxury break.
Villa Orangerie (6 guests, from € 1.920/week), set within a large estate, is an exclusive abode which fuses functionality with fine taste.
A charming old house offering panoramic views, Casa Melograno II (4 guests, from 1.070/week) is just 2km from the nearest beach. A cosy living room opens into a large kitchen and dining area, two comfortable double bedrooms have en-suite bathroom.
For a light, airy family villa overlooking a stunning vineyard, the luxurious Villa Bonera in Menfi-Porto Palo (10 guests, € 2.690/week) is just the job. Enjoying a privileged position atop a panoramic hill, it’s the perfect retreat for those wanting to immerse themselves in the Sicilian food and wine experience.
Marsala and Mazara del Vallo
Marsala is the western-most city in Sicily. Rich in history and charm, it boasts a bourgeois city centre and a host of beautiful beaches, where extreme sports enthusiasts can take delight in pursuits such as kite surfing, taking advantage of the winds of the Strait of Sicily and enjoying stunning views over the neighbouring Egadi islands. World-renowned for its excellent ‘Marsala’ wine, it’s an attractive destination for wine connoisseurs, too – why not head off on a tasting tour one lazy afternoon?
There are two Natural Reserves that extend into this area – the Oriented Natural Reserve of Saline di Trapani and Paceco and the Lagoon Reserve of Stagnone, in Marsala. These are known as the salt pans, and are crucially important for the survival of many biological species – well worth a visit if you’re a wildlife enthusiast, as you can often spot ducks, herons and flamingos.
Mazara Del Vallo, meanwhile, is a great place to visit if it’s your first time in Sicily, giving you a feel for the character and history of the whole island all in one go. Its beautiful old town is the old Casbah, where Islamic philosophers, writers, judges and merchants used to walk.
Seven Islands (10 guests, from € 3.700/week) is located within the pretty coastal province of Trapani, where it is nestled into the hillside. Spread over two floors, it offers panoramic coastal views from Marsala to Erice. Its grand marble staircase, open-plan design and stunning heated pools, terrace and spa complex make it a spectacular choice for a luxurious stay.
A historic fishing port on the southern coast of Sicily, Sciacca is famed for its ceramics, its thermal baths and its large fishing fleet. Found just between the Greek archaeological sites of Selinunte and Agrigento, it’s a great place to base yourself while exploring the wider region.
Visit the historic centre and you’ll find a number of interesting old buildings that are worth an hour or two of your time. Many buildings date back as far as the sixteenth century, each of them telling a story all of their own. At the centre of Sciacca is the panoramic Piazza Scandaliato, which boasts views of the fishing port and the sea below.
With miles of sandy beaches and a millennial tradition of seafood (the fish market is a must-see), one of the main reasons to visit Sciacca is Carnival – one of the most important events of its kind in all of Italy.
The modern and luxurious Casa Alba (4 guests, from € 1.850/week) is nestled on a hillside overlooking the Sicilian coastline and features its own infinity pool, with air conditioning, barbecue facilities and a range of luxury mod-cons.
Ragusa and Modica
The hilltop city of Ragusa is rich in history and art; visit the old town area of Ibla, founded by the Greeks, where you’ll find an array of interesting churches and old mansions to explore. Visit the city’s spectacular baroque buildings, including the Duomo di San Giorgio – a grand church with paintings and stained-glass windows. A leisurely walk through Ibla’s narrow streets is all that is needed to immerse yourself in its secrets and charm.
One of the area’s UNESCO-listed baroque towns, pretty Modica is just a stone’s throw away, and is famous for its delectable PGI chocolate. It was also one of the filming locations used for the iconic TV-series, Inspector Montalbano – well worth a visit if you were ever a fan.
The stylish and romantic La Casuzza (6 guests, from € 2.000/week) is a rustic yet luxurious property overlooking a beautiful valley filled with carob and olive trees. Oozing contemporary elegance from the inside out, it offers its own, private, 12-metre long pool.
Villa Fugata (a villa divided into two properties, 6 guests per property, from € 2.400/week) is both minimalistic and modern in equal doses, offering incredible views of the Sicilian landscape – including the beaches of Punta Secca, Licata and the Agrigento valleys – and boasts lavish interiors with a range of high-end amenities.
Luxury apartments Residenza Hortus (6 guests, € 630/week) – a stylish 16th century property located in a prestigious area at the heart of Modica, features a lush Mediterranean garden and an incredible private grotto spa.
Casa Kymià (5 guests, from € 360/week) is a pretty two-bedroom hideaway with privileged views over Modica. Its shabby-chic décor and contemporary artworks give it a unique charm, further offset by its quaint and quiet location in the historic centre.
Few cities encapsulate Sicily’s timeless beauty in quite the same way as Syracuse. Once the largest city in the ancient word, bigger even than Athens, today it is a hodge-podge of ancient Greek ruins, narrow medieval lanes and pretty piazzas, all set against a backdrop of dazzling blue sea. It’s the perfect place to while away an afternoon watching the world go by – get a cappuccino at one of the many charming pavement cafes for the best spot.
Still known as the Greek capital of Sicily today, Syracuse is a picturesque destination that is overflowing with ancient history. The Neapolis Archeological Park, with its magnificent Greek theatre, and the lovely Ortigia island are well worth a wander whilst staying in the area. If you’re an early riser, then be up by 7am to visit the historic food market of Ortigia; here, you can purchase fresh and authentic produce from the region, including herbs, tomatoes, juicy blood oranges, bright red chilli peppers and plump lemons. Don’t forget to peruse the stalls of local meats and seafood – it’s the perfect place to source the ingredients for a traditional Sicilian lunch.
Siracusa Retreat (8 guests, from € 2.400/week) is a recently refurbished, 18th century farmhouse located strategically between Siracusa and the Plemmiro marine reserve. This opulent hideaway offers a private pool surrounded by a pretty Mediterranean garden. With elegant and classic furnishings and décor throughout, it offers a traditional Sicilian experience through and through.