Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia

Salina (Aeolian Islands), Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £226 per night

An original concept: a boutique resort in a working vineyard with an old lighthouse, whose beam mingles with sparks from distant Stromboli
A huddle of low white buildings with cane-shaded terraces, draped armchairs and carpets of purple flowers looks out past 7 hectares of vineyards and a towering lighthouse to a deep blue sea. It could be Santorini without the crowds. But this is the Tyrrhenian Sea so, instead of the caldera, you get the distant volcano of Stromboli; behind you loom the lush pyramids of Salina's mountains.

By day, guests tan by the decked pool, the sea shimmers below, bamboos wave, and grapes grow. At night Stromboli throws sparks into the sky, and the poolside restaurant-bar comes alive with chilled music and beautiful people. This is the new hotspot, aiming to topple the Raya (from whom it stole the GM and 2 staff) from its perch of cool. Most bedrooms are housed inside pared-down white cubes with the slickest of fittings and pampering bathrooms; 6 more are hidden away in the old lighthouse. The cuisine is ultra-refined Aeolian with a twist. Salina is tiny but repays exploration by boat, moped or foot: crystal waters, smooth-stoned beaches, twisting paths through semi-tropical flora. Come in spring or autumn and you'll have it almost to yourself.

Highs

  • A chilled-out, informal vibe - like the party island of Panarea but a bit more grown-up - with chatty staff and bronzed guests
  • The all-white rooms have exemplary minimalism, with shady terraces looking across indigo seas to still-active Stromboli
  • The Aeolian architecture - low buildings, cannizzi roofs, thick walls - has shades of Bali and the Cyclades inside
  • A lovely decked swimming pool with white sunbeds and parasols, plus a groovy cocktail bar and upscale terrace dining
  • Salina is lusher, larger and less touristy than other Aeolian islands, but has the same volcanic seascapes

Lows

  • No beach, apart from a small stretch of pebbles a 15-minute walk away; Salina’s coast is generally steep and rocky
  • If you fancy eating out you'll have to head into Santa Marina, 5km away
  • Getting here isn't easy: there are hydrofoils from Milazzo and Messina on Sicily and, in summer, from Naples and Palermo
  • You’ll be lucky to find a room in July or August, and will pay handsomely for it if you do

Best time to go

Summer is extremely busy - in July and August you'll be lucky to find a room as they get booked up months in advance. It's also very hot. Much better to come in spring (April to early June) or autumn (September and October) if you can: temperatures are balmy (both swimming and hiking are comfortable), and prices are much more reasonable. You'll also have the island almost to yourself: when we visited in mid-April, there were perhaps a dozen other tourists. The hotel is normally closed from late October to early April.

Our top tips

Most guests stay for 4-6 nights, which is about right for a leisurely exploration of the island, a couple of boat or hydrofoil trips, perhaps a hike or a cruise around the other islands, and some down-time. Don't even contemplate staying for less than 3 nights: the journey from anywhere outside Italy, even using helicopter transfers, takes a full day - which only leaves 2 days on the island.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 27
  • Restaurant and bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 15 Nov 2018 - 18 Apr 2019
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Tennis Court
Room:

Rooms

Some rooms are housed inside half a dozen low, white buildings, which are generously spaced among the rolling vineyards; others are set inside the old lighthouse. There are varying categories, starting from Standard Rooms and continuing up to larger suites.

All rooms get a terrace or garden of some sort - choose Suite 21 and you get 60sqm of outdoor space! Each has a cannizzi (woven cane) roof on bulging columns, a muslin screen (if you or your neighbours want more privacy), and a pair of wicker or linen-clad easy chairs where you might spend a large chunk of each evening with a glass of chilled Malvasia in hand, watching distant Stromboli glow red in the setting sun.

Inside, all is white, smooth and blissfully uncluttered. Whitewashed walls are broken up with arches and niches in which sit decorative vases and flatscreen TVs. The only furniture is a lovely wooden storage unit with wicker pull-out baskets, and a stack of woven reed bowls for your bedside stuff. And the only colours - a muted ochre, a warm terracotta - come from a silky spread on the bed.

Bathrooms are yin to the bedrooms’ yang, with black floor and wall tiling, sleek chrome cross-tube taps, stacks of robes and towels, and a platter of aloe vera-based toiletries. Glass-walled wetrooms have pancake-sized shower heads and an additional hand-held jet.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries

Eating

There’s a very romantic, lamp-lit dining terrace by the pool, serving delicate portions of beautifully cooked seafood and local produce. The menu is fresh and varied (it changes every day), but not overly so, with 3 starters and 4 mains - perfect. Service is friendly too: young staff, swishing past in white linens, stop to introduce themselves before lighting your paraffin lamp and aligning your silver cutlery with a smile. All in all, there’s little incentive to drive the 5km to Santa Marina, and you’ll probably end up eating in more often than not.

Portions are smallish but beautifully presented and full of prime ingredients. We experimented with a trio of tasters: an involtino of swordfish sushi filled with fennel (superb - why do we cook it so much?), a slice of tender-baked aubergine with tomatoes and capers (all grown within 0.5km), and some tongue-like sardines wrapped around sultanas and breadcrumbs for that salty-sweet yumminess. Pasta came very al dente but full of flavour - fresh basil, flaked almonds and green olive oil in this case. Which left just enough room for the mackerel gratin and orange sorbet (now you know why portions aren't larger…). There’s a decent wine list, with a plug - not undeserved - for the Leone, as it’s from the owners’ tenuta on Sicily. And of course there’s a gulp of honeyed Malvasia from last year’s harvest to finish with.

For breakfast, there’s an excellent buffet with beautifully arranged fresh fruit (interspersed with flowers), jam tarts, cold cuts, cheeses, croissants, yoghurt and mini jams (all the way from Wilkins of Tiptree) - and sun-drenched views from the poolside terrace to Panarea and the smoking cone of Stromboli.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Hire a scooter and a lightweight helmet and zip along the island’s 2 roads: one to Pollara, where you can walk down to the cliff-backed pebble cove which featured in Il Postino (keep your helmet on, as there are falling stones!), and the other to Leni, with seaside cafés and boat excursions

  • Or retrace the road - there are hourly buses - past the main port of Santa Marina to the lagoonside village of Lingua, where you'll find the best granita (sorbet) in the Aeolians, and arguably in all Sicily, at Al Fredo's

  • Explore the rocky, lava-sculpted coastline by boat: the hotel can hook you up with a fisherman, or you can (at a price) charter its own 1970s wooden boat. The sea is crystal-clear and ideal for snorkelling; don't miss the perciato (pierced) rock near Pollara

  • Cruise to neighbouring islands: from June to September, the hotel's boat offers a choice of 3 join-in day trips: to Filicudi (the remotest island), to Panarea and Stromboli (the party island and the active volcano), and to Lipari and Vulcano

  • Salina has twin volcanic peaks - hence the Greek name of Didyme ('twins') - which you can climb with or without a guide; there's a map at reception, but don't underestimate the ascent of 900m in the heat

  • Follow some of the Aeolian Islands' other 18 marked trails - the 4-hour hike from the abandoned building above Pollara round to Leni is relatively flat and lined with exotic maquis

  • Take a hydrofoil to Lipari (a journey of around 30 minutes), the most visited and developed Aeolian island, to visit its excellent archaeological museum and part-ruined Spanish castle

  • Kick back at the resort with a game of tennis on the hard court, a dip in the pool, a massage, a stroll down to the little beach, a cooking lesson, or one of the twice-weekly wine tastings

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Sailing
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are welcome, but bear in mind that the vibe is party-chic vibe and there's generally a tranquil atmosphere so it's best for calm, well-behaved children.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Kid Friendly:

Location

Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia is on Salina, one of the Aeolian Islands, near Sicily. It's 5km from Santa Marina, the island's port and main town.

By Air
The nearest airport is Catania (120km away) on Sicily. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving it.

By Hydrofoil / Ferry
There are 3 hydrofoil / ferry companies operating in the Aeolian Islands (navi means ferries, aliscafi are hydrofoils): Ustica Lines, Siremar and SNAV (Naples-Salina) - see below for more details. Once on Salina, Capofaro will arrange a minibus / taxi to take you from the port at Santa Marina up to the hotel (see Rates).

From Milazzo
It's easiest (especially outside midsummer) to fly to Catania and then take a taxi / bus / hire car to Milazzo (2 hours away), from where there are 5-10 daily hydrofoils crossing to Salina in 90 minutes, and a slow ferry which takes 3-4 hours.

From Messina
Another option is to take the hydrofoil from Messina on Sicily (there are fewer sailings and a longer journey time), which is closer to Catania and to the Italian mainland, should you be coming from there.

From Palermo, Naples and other ports
In summer (July to September) you can take the hydrofoil straight from Palermo (half a day's journey) or Naples (a day), both of which have regular flights from around Europe. Or, throughout the year, there is an overnight ferry once a week from Naples. But bear in mind that both of these are more susceptible to bad weather. There are also sporadic sailings to Salina from Cefalù and Santa Agata Militello on Sicily, and from Reggio di Calabria on the mainland.

By Hydroplane
There is a hydroplane service from Palermo and Catania several times a week - see EOLNET for more info.

By Bus
Two bus companies link Milazzo / Messina with Catania: SAIS and Giuntabus. However, you may find it's easier and not much more expensive to hire a car and leave it in Milazzo, even if it's only for this trip; Europcar, Hertz and Alamo have offices in Milazzo.

Detailed directions will be sent to you once your booking is confirmed.

More on getting to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands and getting around

Airports:

  • Catania Fontanarossa 120.0 km CTA

Other:

  • Beach 0.5 km
  • Shops 5.0 km
  • Restaurant 5.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
8/10
Food
8/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

Beautiful setting, food for diner was OK.. but not exceptional. Extremely sophisticated.

8/10,

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Rates for Capofaro Locanda & Malvasia

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