Casa Talia

Modica, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £134 per night

A clutch of lovingly restored stone cottages, with vibrant rustic-chic interiors and sweeping views over the Baroque town of Modica

Talia means "Look!" in the Sicilian dialect - and you'll have to look hard to find this gorgeous guesthouse, camouflaged inside old houses on Modica's tiered hillside. There's no reception, but wave your magnetic card in front of the stone wall and a concealed sensor will unlock a rustic door. Step into the hidden garden, filled with birdsong and dripping with fat figs and plums, white lilies and pink anemones, and - talia! The tightly packed houses and ornate churches of this stunning Unesco-listed town are spread like an amphitheatre at your feet.

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.

Information provided by Casa Talia on 13/10/2021.

Opening Date
25 March 2022

Highs

  • 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)

Lows

  • 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 Suite Delux Dependance House) have showers hidden behind curtains rather than sitting in fully enclosed ensuites

Best time to go

Spring (April-early June) and autumn (September-October) are the most pleasant times to visit. The weather is perfect for gentle exploration, and swimming is quite feasible until early November. Sicily is extremely busy and very hot in summer (July-August); that said, Modica's hillside setting means it stays cooler and more bearable than many other towns on the island.

Our top tips

While exploring Modica, stop to taste the crunchy, spicy chocolate for which it's famous. Drawn by irresistible aromas, we stumbled upon the house of Don Puglisi just above Corso Umberto, where ‘fallen women’ concoct all manner of goodies. Nearby, Bonajuto offers fig-filled nucatoli, while Donna Elvira specialises in carati, made with carob flour, raisins and almonds.

Great for...

Eco
Family
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 12 rooms
  • Breakfast only (+ restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

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 the Suite Deluxe Dependance House, 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 Suite Superior Deluxe Dependance House 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 and the wall-full of intricate blue and white tiling in Mediterraneo. The Ibla Standard Room has stone floors.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

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 Suite Delux Dependance House 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. The owner recommends the Michelin-starred Accursio, or the traditional Osteria di Sapori Perduti on Corso Umberto, where we've enjoyed delicious antipasti in the past. Or you could head to nearby Ragusa, where one of Italy's best chefs (according to Gambero Rosso magazine), Ciccio Sultano, prepares Michelin-starred Sicilian delicacies in his elegant restaurant near the Duomo, whose name it bears.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Picnic hampers on request
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome and those up to 3 years old stay for free. Marco and Viviana have a young child themselves, and will informally let you use their kitchen for preparing food and milk.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

All three Suites (Scirocco, Ginestre and Zenzero) can sleep a family of four in a double and twin beds. The House Dependance Superior Deluxe (Agave and Buendia) each have two bedrooms (a double plus a single and a twin) and can host a family of five. Baby cots can be added to all rooms, and two Superior Rooms (Sciara and Mediteraneo) have an additional single bed for a child.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

Children's meals:

Food and milk can be prepared in the owners' kitchen on request.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Casa Talia is set on a hillside in the lovely Baroque town of Modica, 20km from the coast, in southeast Sicily.

By Air:
Fly to Comiso (35km away) or, if you're touring the whole of Sicily, to Catania (113km away) or Palermo (294km away).

From the Airport
From Comiso it's a 35-minute drive to Modica; from Catania it's 1.5-2 hours by road. There's also a bus from Catania airport which takes 2+ hours, and a train from the centre which takes even longer. But you'll probably want a hire car for your stay (see below).

By Car:
See our car rental recommendations. Casa Talia can be difficult to find, so make sure you take directions with you (provided automatically when you confirm a booking through i-escape). You'll have to park on the street nearby and walk a short way to the entrance.

By Boat:
If you're driving from southern mainland Italy, take the regular ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina.

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

Airports:

  • Comiso 35.0 km CIY
  • Catania Fontanarossa 113.0 km CTA

Other:

  • Beach 20.0 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.3 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 2 independent reviews from i-escape guests

9/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

We loved Casa Talia. Wonderfully stylish house on the steep hillside looking over Modica with a breathtaking view. Friendly, attentive service from Marco. We were the first guests after a long closure through Covid and there were one or two things that needed attention but they were solved in an instant. Beautiful breakfasts served with real care and imagination. Wonderful.

10/10,

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