During the summer, you might have been perplexed as to why people were flying to Italy when they were faced with a five-day quarantine requirement (which is no longer applicable), but that could very well have been because they were staying at a luxury villa, where the word ‘quarantine’ doesn’t sound quite that intimidating.
When you are on private property with over a hundred acres of scenic countryside, such as my destination of La Dimora del Santo, part of the ABOVE collection by CV Villas, you don’t feel all too restricted, especially when you have everything at your disposal, from a concierge to a head chef.
As restrictions have eased, Sicily seems to be the place to visit and this villa is just a 30-minute drive from Catania Airport. For those looking for a winter sun destination, this is one island with all-year-round flights, and there is even less to worry about as there is a ‘Meet and Greet’ service provided at the airport so you will be whisked off to your Sicilian villa in no time.
Whilst the private gates are opened, there is a suitably picturesque drive through some majestic fields and soothing palm trees before you reach the main building. The grand Sicilian country house style is very much in evidence with the rustic earthy colours and a Sicilian thatched ceiling to allow for extra ventilation.
The villa is the epitome of rustic-chic from a collection of marvellous, local multi-coloured ceramic pieces to quaint chandeliers to magnificent stone arches. This is where you relax and breathe in the scenery. A walk through the well-manicured, perfectly symmetrical landscaped gardens is a panacea for all your domestic problems.
With 13 spacious king-sized bedrooms sleeping a maximum of 25 guests, you are more than likely to find a room to suit your individual taste. Furthermore, it is extremely reasonably priced if you bring along close to the maximum number of guests.
The rooms, most of which have an en-suite bathroom, open onto a charming communal courtyard with terrace seating directly outside for you to soak up the Sicilian sunshine. The retro, pre-millennial décor is particularly befitting of the Sicilian countryside location and you almost don’t mind that there’s no Wi-Fi in the bedrooms (it is available in the main library area).
Whilst it might look circa the 1960s, you can still enjoy the modern-day comforts with a particularly refreshing air-conditioning system, TV, Bluetooth speaker, and mini-bar. Helpfully, they have a laundry basket in which items are magically returned back to you in a pristine state and perfectly ironed.
Booking an ABOVE villa means the cooking services are included in the price and you can decide what dishes you prefer to try. Here, it’s all about pasta, pasta, pasta, and at the top of my recommendation list is the baked Pasta Alla Norma, shaped into a jelly mould. You don’t need complicated cooking techniques with Sicilian dishes, just top-quality ingredients, whether it’s the aubergine or the tomatoes.
For the inquisitive, why not try a gourmet cookery class arranged by their concierge team? You can learn to make iconic local favourites like cavatelli pasta and learn how to prep an artichoke – the recipes are literally passed down from traditional nonna’s recipes.
The list is endless: on-site there’s a twenty-metre swimming pool, hammam, sauna, and Indian pavilion which is perfect for yoga and meditation. And the best thing about having a concierge is that you can pretty much arrange most things you desire.
My personal recommendation would be to take a day trip to stunning Syracuse. The wealth of ancient ruins there sees countless tourists flocking to the city as well as the likes of Hollywood studios filming the latest Indiana Jones. The most visited area is the central Archaeological Park Neapolis with the Roman Amphitheatre, the Teatro Greco, and the Orecchio di Dionisio being the main attractions there.
Alternatively, you can enjoy the serenity of nature by strolling through the arid landscape on the villa’s acres of land or admire the bougainvillea and climbing roses closer to the main buildings.
In a nutshell
You don’t have to look outside of Europe for your winter sun holiday. With regular direct flights to Sicily and balmy weather throughout the year, now is the best time to consider a Sicilian escape in the coming months. Invite your friends and family along to experience life in the Sicilian countryside living in a magnificent, charming, spacious villa.
La Dimora Del Santo is available from £9,554 per week.