By Anju Rupal
Left rainy Switzerland with a suitcase packed with beautiful dresses, bikinis, high heels and also my trainers . With a mission, to be kissed by the Sicilian gods, metaphorically speaking. Sicilians are known as either sun-worshipping ‹beach people› or hardy ‹mountain people. So we headed to the beach area first.
An English man at the Teatro Greco
Hotel Timeo in Taormina. It’s not the sort of place you come to for anonymity, but rather to see and be seen. Throughout history, writers, artists, aristocrats, royalty and celebrities have vacationed in this resort town on Sicily’s northeastern coast. My neighbour at the poolside, on my first day asked if I’d like to see him play that evening, I looked up and realised it was Sting. An English man in Sicily playing at the Teatro Greco. Theatre constructed in the 3rd century B.C. was a stunning setting for a concert we’ll never forget.
Itchy feet to leave our 5 star abode and see more, we took our Cinque Cento and followed Gwyneth Paltrows recommendation to stay at a boutique hotel set under Mount Etna, one of the most grumpiest volcanos with a fickle temperament known to have Volcanic Eruptions every few years to wake up the locals. We were heading for Monaci delle Terre Nere a forty minute drive from Taormina. Being an Entrepreuneur myself, I wanted to learn what motivated Guido Allesandro to give up his secure job as a mechanical engineer and return back to his nearby village and spend seven years rebuilding a derelict villa.
Urban meets country with Sicilian ease
We arrived late afternoon at Monaci delle Terre Nere and were already smitten by the beautiful baroque façade. A Villa set amongst lush green flora, terraced orchids & vineyards. 16 Hectares of land partly neighbouring on the National Park. We also later discovered that Guido is planting rare trees from the foot of Mount Etna, to preserve them. The Villa has six large suites. Avant-garde meets tradition is how I’d describe the interior, every nook and cranny is meticulously taken care of with love for detail. Art collected over the past fifteen years gives this hideaway a touch of urban meets country with Sicilian ease.
Recycling pure, as Guido explains. He used the old wooden beams for furniture he had specially designed for each guest room. Each room has a unique smell of lavastein, wood and lemon. Pleasant and fresh. at Monaci delle Terre Nere you enjoy the serenity of a country house together with luxuries worthy of Sicily’s finest hotels and we learnt a swimming pool is planned for the end of this year.
Monaci delle Terre Nere
A perfect “romantic hideaway”
We left Hotel Timeo where the food was great, but the quality offered at Monaci delle Terre Nere is a class of it’s own. Mozzarella that melts in your mouth, tomatoes that burst with aroma, onions that bite back at you. All the vegetables and fruit are produce direct from the fields surrounding the hotel. Olive oil produced by Guido, is to die for a rich deep emerald green in colour. A tasting of the wines produced on the slopes of Mount Etna with Guido is a must. As a trained sommelier he shares his knowledge of wines with Italian gusto. Guido’s motivation became clear at dinner that evening. A man who lives all his senses has built a hideaway to share with guests who appreciate quality, style & wish to go slow, he calls it “slow living” I call it a perfect “romantic hideaway”. We loved our stay here, thanks for the tip Gwyneth.
Things to do nearby
- Vineyard tours.
- Cities: Baroque culture in neighbouring, Noto, Ragussa, Siracusa.
- Hiking: Tours around Mount Etna.
- Beaches: Isole Ciclopi