The local experts you need to know for your next trip to Sicily
Today’s discerning traveller seeks more than traditional luxury to elevate their holiday. The very meaning of the word ‘luxury’ is not as simple as designer brands and high-end properties, and instead, more and more travellers are seeking out meaningful and authentic experiences wherever they go.
This is where Massimo Provenza and his local team in Sicily come in. With over 15 years experience in villa rental and Sicily holidays, Provenza is the Co-Founder and Owner of ‘Massimo Villas’, a boutique agency and collection of villas offering tailor made travel in Sicily and beyond.
Though Massimo Villas can help you locate your ideal home-away-from-home whilst in Sicily, the team offer so much more than a booking service. All the villas in the portfolio are, as to be expected, cherry-picked by Massimo himself based on location, the style of the interiors, the facilities, and more. The silver lining, however, is that most of the properties are actually managed by Massimo’s team, rather than an absent landlord or owner living out of town, which can cause difficulties when you arrive at your Sicilian villa and inevitably, something isn’t working.
The local team in Sicily are on hand to help with both the basics and the luxuries. As part of your reservation, the team can arrange any logistics which can become tricky whilst in another country. How about a rental car ready and waiting for you to pick up at the airport upon arrival, or alternatively, have it delivered to the villa on the day you need it most? The team can also arrange other everyday aids such as a shopping service, so your villa is fully stocked with all the groceries you need, and local bike rental if you wish to get around without a driver.
Aside from the basics, Massimo and his team are able to tailor each guest’s experience of the island to exactly how they wish – whether that’s a trip full of relaxation and indulging in delicious Sicilian cuisine from the comfort of your villa, or if you’re looking for full immersion into Sicily’s history and culture with an array of slightly more adventurous experiences. Having grown up in Cefalu, a city in the northern province of Palermo, Massimo embodies what it means to be a local man on the ground. Guests who book their holiday to Sicily with Massimo benefit from the opportunity to stay in one of the more luxurious villas in the collection, as well as enjoying a whole host of private experiences that might not otherwise be possible without Massimo’s help.
If you want a real taste of Sicily, and are looking to create the convivial atmosphere of a traditional Italian home in your villa, Massimo offers the exclusive opportunity to have a private chef visit the property to cook a feast of classic Sicilian recipes for you and your guests. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or anniversary, or simply want to do something special whilst on holiday, the chef will tailor the menu to your exact requirements. Hailing from both well-known restaurants and neighbourhood trattorias, the men and women champion local produce and time-honoured methods of cooking. The beauty of the evening is that you can be as involved or hands-off as you like. In true Italian style, your chef will be keen to make you feel at home and will enjoy taking you through the recipes step by step just as much as if you sit back and relax, and watch your ‘cena Siciliana’ come to life.
For those looking for something a little more dynamic, Massimo Villas can organise bespoke boat trips for a half or full day to make sure you see all the hidden corners of the coastline. As Massimo says, “the most breathtaking way to see Sicily is from the sea”. You can decide between an antiquated wooden Gozzo boat or a larger sailing boat, as well as fashioning your day at sea to satisfy your particular curiosities. Exploring the nooks and crannies of the Sicilian coastline will open up unimaginable views of the island and make for some of the most photogenic backdrops for a day at sea, with plenty of opportunities to stop and jump in to the waters, and complimentary food and drink onboard. Alternatively, opt to sail further out and do as the Sicilians do: go fishing and cook your catch whilst on the boat, as fresh as it comes!
A new development for Massimo Villas in 2019 is the Donna Luna enoteca, located nearby in the charming village of Sant’Ambrogio. Groups staying in one of the villas in Cefalu are invited to select a complimentary bottle of wine from the wine shop, which is nestled in the hills above the city of Cefalu. Donna Luna welcomes locals alongside guests for regular wine tastings and events, and forms a part of Massimo’s personal aim to revitalise local businesses in the rural areas of Sicily and Italy.
And what if you’re not heading to Sicily at all, but still very much like the sound of the luxury rental villas selected by Massimo? You are in luck, as Massimo Villas has a proverbial finger in more than one pie, and has properties in two other striking regions in Italy; Puglia, a jewel of the South and the heel to Italy’s boot; and Tuscany, the beating heart of modern Italy.
Average cost of the private chef dinner is €40-€50 per person, depending on personal requirements and the scale of the meal (produce not included). Boat trips cost approximately €100 per hour for up to four people, with a minimum of two hours trip. Both experiences are available to guests staying in a villa in or nearby to Cefalu in particular, including Villa Elaia; Villa Palomina; and Villa Talia.