Baglio Occhipinti

near Ragusa, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £88 per night

A tranquil, unpretentious, affordable agriturismo in a rural Sicilian setting, with delicious dinners and local wines
Set on a low hill amid fertile farmland, this thick-walled stone farmhouse and its outbuildings have been lovingly brought back to life by a young architect, Fausta Occhipinti. Born here but educated in Paris, she has successfully preserved the feel of her cultured family home-within-a-farm. In the lofty sitting room, alongside 4 ancient wine-pressing vats, you'll find a grand piano (occasionally played by her father) and stacks of coffee-table books and childhood photos. Cool corridors lead to 7 bedrooms and suites, with snow-white fabrics, vintage beds and small windows overlooking carpets of yellow chamomile. There are countless nooks, both indoors and out, to sit and read a book, while at the bottom of the walled gardens lies an inviting pool dotted with deckchairs and almond trees.

Come dinner time, tables are laid in the grassy courtyard with colourful platters of antipasti, followed by homemade specialties like pork cheek and pistachio risotto, or braised beef with broad beans and fennel from the garden. Lanterns twinkle, friendly cats brush your ankles, conversation is convivial and multilingual. By day, explore the fabulous Baroque towns of Modica, Ragusa and Scicli (30-45 mins drive), or laze on the sandy beaches of Scoglitti and Punta Secca (20-30 mins). A privileged glimpse of authentic Sicily.

Highs

  • Dinner is a highlight: make sure you book yourselves in
  • Most rooms are generously sized; several have a sofabed for kids
  • Fausta's sister Arianna produces some of the region's finest wines, which you can sample very affordably here, and do a wine tour on request
  • Staff and family members are all warmly welcoming, from Simon at reception (an Englishman who married locally) to chef Enza (who offers impromptu cooking lessons)
  • It's just 10 mins' drive from Comiso airport, which has cheap direct flights from UK, France and Belgium

Lows

  • There's not a huge amount to do at the agriturismo by day, but that's part of its charm
  • Be prepared for insects around the dinner table, especially in spring and early summer; and cats, too
  • You'll need a hire car: there's nothing within walking distance
  • West from here, the Gela plain is not the prettiest; head east (to the Baroque towns) and south (to the beaches) instead
  • The small Torretta room is best suited to a single traveller

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are our favourite times to visit: not too hot, with plentiful wild flowers in March-April and warm seas in September-October. Summer can be incredibly hot in these parts, and local beaches get busy in August. The Modica chocolate festival is held in March/April or October/November, the Vittoria Jazz Festival in June, and the Sortino honey festival in October.

Our top tips

Fans of the Inspector Montalbano TV series should make a beeline - preferably in a battered Fiat Punto - for Punta Secca, whose wave-lined seafront is the location for the inspector's home ("Marinella"). Return via Scicli, whose town hall was dressed up as the police station for the films; and Ragusa, in whose restaurants the gourmet detective finds his solace - and his inspiration.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast + other meals on request
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: December - February
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Thermae

Rooms

Most of the 7 rooms are located in the venerable old farmhouse, a rambling L-shaped building whose cool stone-flagged corridors are dotted with sitting nooks, antique dressers and ceramic vases bursting with flowers from the garden. The smallest, Torretta, is above the main sitting room, and ideal for a single traveller. Two others, Panorama and Botanica (also on the first floor), share a semi-private sitting area. Enormous Thermae is in an outbuilding with its own entrance; Giardino has 2 queensize beds on 2 different levels; Carruba boasts a separate sitting room.

Expect open beamed ceilings, pale stone walls, crisp white-clad beds and armchairs, and a touch of elegance from a chandelier or ornate mirror frame. Racks of cream-painted clothes hangers stand in for a wardrobe. The overall feel is pretty, somewhat feminine, but inescapably an ancient Sicilan home, as witnessed by a hefty stone washbasin or salvaged patch of tiling. Panorama and Thermae have baths; the rest smart shower rooms with drench heads and proper plumbing.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Hairdryer
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Dinner is a highlight - book it at least one evening, if not all. Rustic tables are laid under the almond trees, aperitivi are offered, guests mingle - and those who helped Enza with the cooking will confirm how local it is. Think fresh foccaccia with caponata, homemade pasta with the most delicious ragu, baked sardines or a risotto with courgette, pork cheeks and pistachio. Mains might feature braised beef with broad beans and chard from the garden, or catch of the day from the harbour at Scoglitti. You never quite know what's coming next, nor how many courses to expect: not ideal for fussy eaters perhaps, but you won't leave hungry!

Outstanding wines flow freely, courtesy of Fausta's viticultured sister Ariana - deep red Nero d'Avola and Frappato (which the New York Times called "energetic and delightful"), or a fruity white Albanello and Zibbibo called SP68, which we found exquisite.

Breakfast is equally delicious - though not quite as copious (thankfully). Expect yoghurts and eggs, still warm cakes, fresh squeezed orange juice, wobbly ricotta from the farmer next door, even homemade tiramisu or a seasonal fruit tart if you're lucky.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Don't miss the fantastic hill town of Ragusa, with its proud Baroque church facades and warren of tangled alleys dominating a deep valley (there's Michelin-starred food, too)
  • Modica is not much further, its handsome houses and cathedrals lining 2 sides of a valley like an improbably ornate stage set (be sure to try the crunchy local chocolate)
  • Beyond lie other Baroque jewels - Scicli, Noto - as well as the eerie gorge of Ispica, whose cliffs are pocked with Neolithic tombs: a rewarding hike
  • Head south for the sea: Scoglitti has a vibrant local fish market (and excellent seafood restaurants), Punta Secca is the fictional waterfront home of Inspector Montalbano, Donnalucata has the longest and sandiest beach of all
  • Back at the hotel, swim in the chlorine-free 18m pool - very refreshing
  • Keen cooks can ask for a lesson with chef Enza: learn how to make fresh pasta (and the local sauces) or bake feather-light foccaccia; and collect a wad of recipes

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are warmly welcomed here - it's a family-run place - but there aren't any children's facilities, games or toys, and there's not a lot to do except play in the pool. The enclosed grounds make it generally pretty safe.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Giardino has 2 double bedrooms on 2 levels (limited headroom upstairs). Three other rooms can sleep 1-2 children in a double sofabed: Thermae (in an outbuilding with its own entrance), Carruba (which has a separate sitting room) and Botanica (which can also be booked with neighbouring Panorama if you want more space). Panorama and Vigna can each fit a baby cot.

Baby equipment:

  • High chairs and baby cots

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Children's meals:

    Simple child-friendly meals on request, eg pasta and ice cream

    Kids Activities on site:

    • The pool

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Long sandy beaches at Donnalucata, Sampieri etc

    Families Should Know:

    The pool is unfenced. There are prickly cactuses in the garden. Thick stone walls may defeat your baby monitor. Most beds and armchairs are draped in snow-white fabrics.

  • Distances:

    • Airport: Comiso (9km)
    • Shop: 5km
    • Beaches: 20km
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Baglio Occhipinti is set in farmland between the towns of Ragusa and Gela, in southeast Sicily.

    By Air
    Comiso Airport is extremely close (9km, 10 mins) but Catania (90km, 1hr 15 mins) has a wider range of flights.

    From the Airport
    You'll want a hire car, as the hotel is quite isolated.

    Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.

    More on getting to Sicily and getting around

    Airports:

    • Comiso 9.0 km CIY
    • Catania 90.0 km CTA

    Other:

    • Beach 20.0 km
    • Shops 5.0 km
    • Restaurant 5.0 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    10/10
    Food
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    10/10
    Overall

    You feel like being at home...

    10/10,

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