Sicily, while hardly a well-kept secret, has yet to attract the investment of major hospitality chains. There are many theories on the reasons for this lack of development, but the beautiful Italian island remains one of the least exploited areas of the Mediterranean – a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed. While the big boys dither, recent years have seen a rise of smaller independent hotels and holiday lets catering for increased interest in Sicily, and Rocca delle Tre Contrade (Fortress of the Three Districts) is a fine example.
The former winery built in the 1850s occupies a commanding hilltop position on the island’s east coast, half an hour from Catania airport. The uninterrupted panorama takes in Mount Etna, the nearby shore and the villa grounds which include a lemon grove, orchard and vegetable gardens. Eleven en suite rooms spread over three floors offer smart yet simple accommodation with tiled floors, whitewashed stone and lightweight textiles all helping to keep things cool in the southern Med heat. If you’re still a little hot under the collar there’s an infinity pool, deserted pebble beaches are a stone’s throw away, or a 30 minutes in the car will take you to the sandier stretches of Taormina, which also boasts some impressive archaeological sights.