“A true maison de charme: pared-down style, a warm welcome and bags of character in a historic villa near Marina di Ragusa’s golden beach”
The 15 rooms are clustered around a series of courtyards, all fragrant with jasmine and herbs. Some are on the ground floor, others reached via steel walkways, but all are bright, airy and simply furnished with an eclectic mix of old and new.
We stayed in one of the standard Double Rooms. These differ slightly in size and layout, but all have original tiled floors, wooden shutters painted in pistachio green, antique bedsteads topped with modern kingsize mattresses, and oversized anglepoise lamps extending like tentacles from whitewashed walls. Wherever possible, bits and bobs from the house’s past have been reused in imaginative ways: dressers from the pantry act as a wardrobe in one room, kitchen chopping blocks form bedside tables in another. Ours had a coffee table fashioned from an old travelling trunk, plus a cream sofa, a table and a couple of chairs.
If you're coming with children (under 2s and over 10s are accepted) - or you just want a little more space - opt for the Tower Room, a duplex sleeping 4 at the top of the villa. Its kingsize bed sits under swathes of sail-like white fabric, and steps lead up to a mezzanine with 2 single beds.
Bathrooms throughout are small and rather plain but have everything you need: rain showers (no tubs), bidets, hairdryers, slippers and a selection of toiletries. Rooms also come with air conditioning, fans, flat-screen TVs, WiFi, mini-fridges, radios, fresh flowers and safe boxes. Further treats arrive at turndown in the form of spicy sweets and little cakes, but best of all is the complete silence at night: the hotel sits on a quiet side street, and effective sound-proofing ensured we didn’t hear a peep from beyond our room.
Breakfast is served in the striking glass-fronted extension or in the shade of a 150-year-old lemon tree on the patio outside. The dazzling white walls provide a perfect backdrop for the colourful array of food on offer: chunks of herby bread drizzled in olive oil, honey trickled over creamy ricotta, pane cunzato (a Sicilian version of bruschetta with tomatoes, oregano and anchovies), plump olives, platters of fresh fruit (perhaps watermelon, kiwi and strawberries), homemade almond tarts, and gooey chocolate cake. You also get yoghurts, espressos or cappuccinos, tea, and fresh orange juice squeezed in front of your eyes by the attentive staff.
No other meals are available at La Moresca, but Marina di Ragusa has plenty of restaurants to choose from. We headed to Il Lido Azzurro, sister restaurant of the renowned Locanda Don Serafino in Ragusa, and dined on the moonlit beach within earshot of waves washing on the shore. Our starters of delicious seafood soup and tuna carpaccio sprinkled with pistachios were followed by taglione with salted ricotta, squid and tomatoes, and a velvety chocolate and cardamom ricotta mousse - all as memorable as the setting.
There are also more informal pizzerias-cum-cocktail bars strung out along the seafront (Shosholoza is perhaps the pick of the bunch). And if you’re out and about on day trips, you’ll find plenty of top-notch eateries in and around local towns, including Michelin stars at Duomo in Ragusa and La Gazza Ladra in Modica. Highly recommended by Carlomaria is Ristorante Majore in nearby Chiaramonte Gulfi, which has been in the hands of the same family since 1896 and only sells dishes made from local pork, including pork-stuffed ravioli, pork risotto and salami antipasti.
La Moresca is a peaceful retreat that's geared towards couples. That said, children aged under 2 or over 10 are accepted, and will enjoy splashing around on the beach nearby. Baby cots can be added to all rooms, and the duplex Tower Room sleeps up to 4 in a kingsize bed and 2 single beds.
Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)
Cots Available, Family Rooms