“A clutch of lovingly restored stone cottages, with vibrant rustic-chic interiors and sweeping views over the Baroque town of Modica”
Marco and Viviana, architects from Milan, spent 3 years creating their dream home, fusing natural materials (recycled roof tiles, pressed-iron beds, old oak chairs) with the subtlest of modern technology. Bedrooms, spread among the cottages, get cane ceilings above luscious mustard or cerulean walls, and traditional floor tiles beside gleaming chrome and glass wetrooms. It's their homage to 'slow living' - and a sublimely peaceful retreat among Italy's finest Baroque towns and sandy beaches.
- A gem in the heart of Modica - itself a Sicilian gem
- Superb attention to detail (reclaimed door handles, repointed masonry, chrome Grohe taps) - as you'd expect from a pair of designers
- Private terraces for most rooms - sit back and watch the town turn from golden to rose-pink as the sun sets
- Leisurely breakfasts under the fig tree, with local jams, delectable cakes and fresh fruits
- Friendly, very helpful hosts, who can point you in the direction of historic hill towns, beautiful beaches and nature reserves (all within a 30-minute drive)
- It's 100m from the nearest car park (signs guide the way)
- It's a 10-minute puff up the hill from town - not ideal for the less sprightly or the very young
- A couple of neighbouring rooms are inadequately soundproofed
- Complaints of poor storage in some rooms, and a couple (Zenzero and Buendia) have showers hidden behind curtains rather than sitting in fully enclosed ensuites
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- Breakfast only (+ restaurants nearby)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The rooms spill down the hillside, each with views over Modica and a separate entrance off the garden. All combine old and new: rescued wrought-iron beds topped with orthopaedic mattresses, salvaged tailors’ hangers next to flat-screen TVs, a safe hidden behind a metal oven door in the wall. Pale masonry is broken up with bright colours, beams and patterned tiles that evoke Sicily’s Arabic and Spanish past, and bathrooms come with waterfall showers (no tubs). All but the smallest rooms have private terraces.
Largest are the suites. In desert-brown Scirocco, you’ll find a carriage axle incorporated into a mirror frame and a decorative silver swan from Cairo. The spacious split-level Superior Suites, Meridiana and Talia, have sofabeds on their upper floors; the former is one of our favourite rooms, with a romantic lower-floor bedroom hewn out of the cliff face. Also carved into the rock is Buendia, which is set a little way from the others and can accommodate up to 3 extra beds within its white, cave-like walls; it has a kitchenette, too.
Since our visit, the Volo Suite has also been added - we're yet to personally view the space but a cube-like glass-walled bedroom and palatial terrace (with stunning views) set the tone.
Smaller but just as striking are the Superior Rooms. We loved the deep magenta walls in Sirah, the delicate greens in soothing Agave, and the wall-full of intricate blue and white tiling in Mediterraneo. Of the Standard Rooms, the nicest is bright and breezy Zenzero thanks to its French doors onto a small balcony. We’d avoid Cedro and Zagare, which share a terrace and lack soundproofing, and we’re yet to see stone-floored Ibla.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Safe box
Marco and Viviana prepare a beautiful breakfast of homemade jams, fresh fruit, creamy yoghurt, blood orange juice, bread and pastries (including heart-shaped chocolate bites or sugar-dusted muffins). There's a breakfast room with picture windows at the front and a cave at the back, but in summer you sit outside in the shade of the fig tree, gazing over the banked houses of Modica.
No other meals are served, but picnic hampers can be arranged and the Buendia suite has a kitchenette - not suitable for cooking, but fine for preparing snacks, with plates, glasses, a dishwasher, and a few basics such as coffee, tea, cereals, fruit and water.
For lunch and dinner, there are several restaurants within a 10-minute walk, including the stylish and soigné Torre d'Oriente on Via Posterla, or the traditional Osteria di Sapori Perduti on Corso Umberto, which has delicious antipasti and Sicilian specialities. Or you could head to nearby Ragusa, where "Italy's best young chef" (according to Gambero Rosso magazine), Ciccio Sultano, prepares Michelin-starred Sicilian delicacies in his elegant restaurant near the Duomo, whose name it bears.
- Children's meals
- Picnic hampers on request
- Restaurants nearby
- Explore Modica, listed as a World Heritage site for its vernacular architecture and Baroque churches, mostly rebuilt after Sicily's 1693 earthquake. It’s divided into Modica Bassa, whose main thoroughfare (Corso Umberto) lies at your feet, and Modica Alta on the hill opposite, capped by a castle and clocktower
- Another impressive Baroque town is Ragusa, sited on a cliff-ringed spur 15 minutes away, with a steepled duomo rising above a jumble of tiled medieval roofs
- A 15-minute drive in the other direction takes you to Scicli, an outpost of the Spanish barons with wide piazzas and weathered palazzi
- And it’s only 30-45 minutes to the final pair of Unesco-listed, post-1693 Baroque towns: Noto and Palazzolo Acreide. The former boasts honey-stoned avenues; the latter a Greek theatre, Roman catacombs and ancient quarries. Nearby is Buscemi, a living folk museum with working olive and grape presses
- After all that sightseeing, take it easy on the sandy beaches lining the south coast. Nearest are Pozzallo and Sampieri (20 minutes’ drive); further west are Donnalucata and Scoglitti (30-45 minutes’ drive), both long, wide and surf-streaked
- To the east are the bird-rich lagoons and road-free coves of the Vendicari Nature Reserve - walk to Calamosche for total seclusion
- At the southern end of the reserve is Marzamemi, a sleepy tuna-fishing village which during summer turns into a chic resort filled with bars, restaurants and live music
- Active types can hike along the deep limestone gorge of the Cava d’Ispica, whose cliffs are dotted with hermits’ tombs and climbers abseiling into them; take a boat tour along the Ciane river; cycle through the gorge and necropolis of Pantalica (contact Sud Estremo); and spot migrating waders around Capo Passero
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Shopping / markets
Children of all ages are welcome. Marco and Viviana have a young child themselves, and will informally let you use their kitchen for preparing food and milk.
Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
The Scirocco Suite and Volo Suite each have 2 single sofas which can be used as beds, and split-level Meridiana and Talia have sofabeds on their upper floors. Buendia can take up to 3 additional beds, and also has a basic kitchenette that's handy for preparing kids' snacks. Baby cots can be added to all rooms, and one Superior Room (Agave) has space for an extra child's bed.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Food and milk can be prepared in the owners' kitchen on request.