Friday, July 12, 2024

Savoring a Sicilian getaway

How a brief taste of this Southern Italian island led to a longer sojourn.

I had only been to Sicily once for a day on a cruise ship stop, but I knew it was a place that I wanted to go back and spend some time exploring more extensively. It is one of the wonderful things about cruising. You get to experience a place for a short amount of time and know which locations you would like to go back to for a longer stay. Sicily was one of those places for me.

We planned our stay at the stunning Villa Sant’Andrea, a Belmond hotel. Belmond has two properties in Taormina. The larger property, Grand Hotel Timeo, is up on the hill right near the charming town and the beachside property where we stayed is Villa Sant’Andrea.

Upon arrival, after making our way through the curvy streets of Taormina, the first thing I noticed was the old world glamour of this historical property. The true hero of our stay was our room. Perfectly appointed in beach-chic decor, the room was spacious and well-appointed. It is the private balcony that allows you to escape to a magical place. From the red geraniums hanging from the iron railings overlooking the crashing waves and the volcanic beach to the gentle breeze as you enjoy a glass of wine at sunset, these balconies define relaxation and beauty.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at the hotel restaurant, Ristorante Oliviero. With a bottle of Rose and some appetizers, we enjoyed each moment as we looked at the sea from their outdoor patio. We made dinner reservations at a local restaurant in town and decided to head over a bit earlier to the Grand Timeo Hotel for sunset. We heard that their terrace was a prime location for the view and it did not disappoint! We sipped on our craft cocktails (I had a Belmond-tini) and listened to the pianist play as we watched the sunset for the evening. Belmond has a shuttle that goes to and from their separate properties every 30 minutes allowing you to enjoy the benefits of both locations. Following sunset, we had a delightful dinner at a local family restaurant called Tischi Toschi and had after-dinner drinks listening to live music at Caffe Wunderbar.

One of the many special things that Belmond offers when you stay with them are experiences that you can have in the area. They arranged a breathtaking wine tasting tour for us to the vineyards around Mt Etna. I learned so much about how the volcanic ground generates a very specific taste for wine. We were also able to see the volcanic ash that had recently been blown by Etna and witnessed the dark smoke coming out the top as we sipped on our wines.

Our first vineyard was a small, boutique, family-owned place called Fischetti. The lovely Daniella was kind enough to share the family stories as she guided us through the vines and wine tasting. The current owner repaired the building to keep the history of how wine used to be made there that is still visible to those who enter the doors. What a gorgeous spot! We stopped next at a larger vineyard called Cottanera where we had a delicious lunch paired with wines while looking at Etna through the large windows. Patrizia gave a fantastic tour and made us laugh!

I only wish we had a few more days to explore Sicily. Thank you, Belmond for making our stay here so incredibly special.

If you book this hotel through me, you will receive the following amenities:

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Full American Breakfast for two guests per bedroom daily (buffet)
  • $100 USD Equivalent Food & Beverage credit to be utilized during stay (only valid at hotel restaurant for either lunch or dinner, no cash value if not redeemed in full)
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi


Villa Sant’Andrea, a Belmond Hotel


Tischi Toschi

Ristorante Oliviero

Caffe Wunderbar

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