The beautiful island of Sicily is a highly sought after holiday destination that boasts a rich history, Renaissance-era cities, beautiful rolling landscapes, relaxation, and an extraordinary array of choice when it comes to food and wine. Here, our founder Susie Marquis offers some exceptional recommendations of things to see and places to stay.
The island of Sicily is arguably one of the most interesting holiday destinations in Europe, with its abundance of ancient ruins and archeological sites, including six UNESCO World Heritage sites (seven if you include the Aeolian islands, just off the coast of north-eastern Sicily). The island is also very appealing for visitors for its long summer seasons and mild winters, its beautiful beaches, charming villages and towns, as well as its excellent food and wine. Whether you enjoy physical pursuits such as hiking, cycling and scuba diving, exploring the stunning countryside and coast, or lovers of history; local festivals, wine tastings and culinary delights… Sicily offers all these experiences, and more.
Positioned between north Africa and mainland Italy, Sicily offers a mix of interesting cultures, especially when it comes to food, which is inspired by Spanish, Greek, and Arab cuisine, as well as a variety of fresh fish, and locally grown vegetables, often served with couscous instead of pasta. A Couscous Festival is, in fact, an annual event in Sicily (16-25 September 2022), and considered as a cultural integration event between nearby countries. The island is also renowned for its many other festivals all year round, covering everything from almond blossom, to music, food and religious festivals. Moreover, Sicily is the largest wine producing region in Italy, and with its mountains and hills, the excellent wine here offers a distinctive Mediterranean flavour. We recommend Winery Tasting Sicily which can arrange great food and wine tours and tastings for visitors.
Most of our villas to rent on Sicily are situated to the east and south-east of the island, where visitors will discover much evidence of Sicily’s ancient past, including the historic city of Syracuse, with its Temple of Apollo, a Roman amphitheater, and the largest Greek theatre in the ancient world, built around 470 B.C. The charming historic island of Ortigia, which is linked to the mainland by a short footbridge, can be reached from Syracuse by car (2 minutes), or by foot (18 minutes). With its narrow medieval lanes, Ortigia also offers a good choice of shops, markets, and restaurants. It has a particularly lovely atmosphere in the evening! The many other historic treasures on Sicily include the wonderful archaeological area of Agrigento with the remains of Doric temples, in the south-west of the island, as well as the Baroque architecture in the cities of Noto and the Necropolis of Pantalica in the south east.
Recommended Villas:Villa Syracuse (9 bedrooms, 18 guests)In a unique location near the sea, the ancient Greek theatre at Syracuse can be seen from this beautiful villa, and is within an easy walk. Another famous site close by, which guests can walk to in around 10 minutes, is the Ear of Dionysus: a limestone cave carved out of the Temenite Hill. The villa also benefits from a large, classically designed Italian garden, as well as a swimming pool surrounded by laurel trees; jacaranda, pomegranates, and lemon trees. The lawn and the tall trees surrounding the villa offer shade for guests, and the perfect place to relax on a hot day. The accommodation is on three floors, with the ground floor benefitting from a wellness area, gym, sauna, hydromassage tub, cellar, bar, TV, and a relaxation area. These amenities create the perfect holiday base!
Vista Etna (4 bedrooms, 8 guests)Originally an ancient ‘masseria’, this impressive villa is located in a small village on the slopes of Mount Etna, just 27 kms from Catania airport, and around 40 kms south of Taormina. The villa is well situated in one of Sicily’s most prestigious wine producing areas, as well as known for its excellent fruit, vegetables and local honey. Lovers of outdoor adventure sports will be spoilt for ideas – including trekking, mountain-biking, pot-holing, river rafting and tubing as well as snorkelling, kitesurfing and water-skiing. The interiors are stunning, with the living room boasting high vaulted and frescoed ceilings. Additionally, there are stylish and high tech comforts throughout the villa, which includes a gym. Outside, the lawn leads to a beautiful large pool, and a Modernistic glass-screened pavilion, which was designed as a reception area for parties, also making the villa perfect for a special occasion.
Villa Stazzo (8 bedrooms, 16 guests)We love the location of this villa on the coast; on the outskirts of the fishing village of Stazzo, between the hilltop town of Taormina (36 kms) to the north, and the city of Catania (24 kms) to the south. The many positives for staying here include a garden, and terraces with wonderful sea views, direct sea access and a large swimming pool. The accommodation is on two levels, with both the ground and first floors having a living room, dining area and kitchen, making the villa perfect for two families, or a group of friends.  On the ground floor guests will also have use of a games room with table tennis and table football. Two historic and very pretty fishing villages, Acicastello and Aci Trezza, on the coast, are within a 20-25 minute drive south. Mount Etna’s park can also be reached in under an hour.
Villa Cassibile (5 bedrooms, 8 guests)Just 9 kms south from Syracuse, this unique villa is located on the coast in the Gelsomineto Reserve, just a few steps from Il Gelsomineto Marchesa beach, one of the most unspoilt beaches in the south-east of Sicily. Surrounded by a large private garden, visitors here can enjoy privacy, as well as beautiful views over a citrus grove to the sea. Within the grounds there is also a large furnished terrace, and a wonderful infinity swimming pool with sea views, and a barbecue area. The ancient city of Syracuse and the UNESCO Baroque town of Noto are close by, and there are also wonderful hiking opportunities in the Cava Grande di Cassibile. Guests will also be close to the Cassibile River, and the stunning gorge of Pantalica, with several thousand Neolithic tombs on its limestone cliffs.
Villa San Biagio (5 bedrooms, 10 guests) Like Villa Stazzo (above), this beautiful villa is on two levels, so it also has the advantage of accommodating a group, or two families wanting privacy. The villa has a stunning well-maintained garden, also with a large swimming pool. Just 20 kms from the historic centre of Taormina, with its beautiful winding steps, sea views, and an ancient Greek theatre, the villa also benefits being close (3 kms) to the beaches of Fondachello and Giardini Naxos. For the more active, horse riding is available nearby (6 kms), and there are tennis courts, a diving centre around 7 kms away, and a golf course at Castiglione di Sicilia, around 20 kms from the villa. The many other advantages of staying at this villa include a wellness area with a sauna and treadmill, air conditioning, and four satellite televisions. Guests will receive a welcome basket with breakfast items on arrival.
Dreaming of a trip to Italy? In addition to our sensational Sicilian stays, The Luxury Travel Book offers a host of beautiful villas across the country: Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Amalfi Coast, Venice, Siena, Lucca, Lake Como, Puglia, Umbria, Lake Orta, Lake GardaTo be at the front of the queue when it comes to the latest news on our enticing international properties, our luxurious new villas and our bespoke selection of captivating travel itineraries, simply sign up for our bi-monthly newsletter here.