Masseria Ciancio

near Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Charming agriturismo with rooms and apartments in bucolic countryside, close to beaches and Sicily's Baroque towns
Near Modica and nearer Pozzallo, Masseria Cianciò (pronounced chancho) is a handy base for exploring the wonders of southeast Sicily. Set amid olive and carob trees, surrounded by dry-stone-walled fields, this 19th-century farmhouse has been welcoming guests since 2000. Former cowsheds and warehouses around the central cobbled courtyard have been transformed into 8 rooms and apartments, most with private gardens.

What sets this agriturismo apart is the retro country-kitchen decor throughout. Owner Gina Ricci, a former interior designer, has scoured the island for vintage and heirloom pieces, to delightful effect. She has juxtaposed chintz and check fabrics with old crockery (she has a thing for china hens), antique furniture and 18th-century tiles (which you can buy in their small shop), and imbued the whole place with a light touch. Accommodations are good value; some have kitchenettes if you prefer to self-cater, and picnic baskets and dinners are available on request.

Highs

  • Original vintage country decor, artfully styled
  • Generous yet dainty breakfasts served in the stone-and-cobbled breakfast room
  • Set in extensive gardens and grounds with a lovely pool plus a playground for children
  • Tranquil rural setting yet close to beaches, Unesco Baroque towns, and only an hour and a half's drive from the airport
  • A delightfully authentic agriturismo; you feel very much in the heart of Sicily here

Lows

  • No restaurant and although you can order picnic baskets for the day at breakfast, you need to order evening meals 48 hours in advance, and you'll need to drive to any other restaurants or to pick up pizza
  • Most staff don't speak much English
  • Some may not succumb to the retro charm and find the rustic nature of the place irksome (few mod cons, off the beaten track, quiet, some rooms faded, kitchenettes old-fashioned)
  • Bathrooms are small in most units

Best time to go

Sicily is best visited spring and autumn as it can be blazing hot in summer despite sea breezes. Most places, including Masseria Cianciò, are closed during the winter months.

Our top tips

Take a day trip to Unesco-listed Modica, the nearest of the Baroque cities in the southeast of Sicily, built in a cleft in the limestone plateau and divided into Modica Alta (Upper Modica) and Modica Bassa (Lower Modica). And while there don't forget to sample the famous local Modica Cioccolata (some of which will be on your pillow at Masseria Cianciò on arrival for booking through i-escape).

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Family
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Rural B&B
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 10 Dec 2016 - 28 Feb 2017
  • 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
  • Communal DVD player
  • Communal TV
Room:

Rooms

The heart of Masseria Cianciò is its charming cobbled courtyard, where you can take breakfast and they sometimes provide barbecues in summer months. Seven of the 8 rooms and apartments lead off this courtyard; only two (Rooms 1 and 12) are accessed round to the side - and all are on the ground floor.

Created from former livestock sheds and grain warehouses, no 2 rooms are the same. Most feel spacious with high wood-beamed ceilings and white-washed walls plus access to private gardens or patio areas at the back, as ours did (Room 21). Some have 2 bedrooms (the second bedroom is always a twin) and/or kitchenettes. Shower bathrooms, with hairdryer and basic toiletries supplied, are usually compact; we found all to be immaculately kept.

Each room, whatever the size and configuration, shows the same deft styling: check curtains, posies, floral cushions, vintage kitchenware, antique bedheads and tiles. Yet none feels cluttered and there's a subtle colour scheme of red and green.

All rooms have a mini-fridge with drinks, both alcoholic and not, and snacks (extra cost). The 3 apartments/room with kitchenettes are delightfully retro - one even has an original 1920s bread oven - but not bristling with mod cons or very spacious.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee/tea making (on request)
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron (on request)
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfasts at Masseria Cianciò were some of the best we had in Sicily: very authentic, showcasing homemade jams (including tomato, yum), local honey, and an elegant display of freshly-baked cakes, pastries and breads. Served in the cobbled-floor breakfast room, the spread also consists of fresh fruit, cereals, never-ending coffee and tea, juices, and a smorgasbord of cheese and ham specifically for northern Europeans. Guests with a sweet tooth will be in 7th heaven.

There's no restaurant but you can order picnic baskets and dinners. There are 2 options of picnic; a lighter version with an emphasis on fruit and salad, or one with more Sicilian fare such as stuffed pasta rolls (which we thoroughly enjoyed). Let them know of any special requests or dietary requirements. For dinners, note that they need 48 hours' notice. We were caught out by this so didn't get to try the proffered 3-course meal of a rich Sicilian starter followed by homemade pasta then dessert plus fruit. Occasionally in the summer they'll put on a communal barbecue in the courtyard.

The kitchenettes are cute if old-fashioned, and each has a kettle, hob, gas cooker, pots and pans, cutlery, crockery and fridge-freezer. You'll need to buy everything you need for self-catering; only washing-up liquid is supplied. A welcome basket can be provided on request, in which you'll find pasta, olive oil, tomato sauce, salt, sugar and coffee; note there is an additional daily charge for use of the kitchenettes, see Rates for details. There are small dining tables in the apartment, and out in the private gardens. And there's a bar service on request, just ask if you'd like a glass of wine, there's a wine list to choose from.

If eating out there are plenty of options in Pozzallo, including a pizza place for takeaways; staff can advise.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Picnic Baskets on request
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Enjoy the Masseria's pretty dry-stone walled fields and pathways full of birdsong and flowers, olive and carob trees, and its tranquil pool area and private courtyards. There are bikes to borrow
  • Take a Sicilian cookery class and learn how to make traditional dishes such as cavatelli pasta with aubergine and ravioli with ricotta cheese
  • Explore the Unesco-listed Baroque towns in this region: Noto, Modica, Ragusa and Scicli are all worth visiting
  • Head to Pozzallo for its sandy beach plus bars and restaurants; from here a boat can take you to Malta for a day trip
  • There's a renowned nature reserve, Vendicari, nearby
  • The Cava Ipsica caves are also close; these have remains and ruins dating across millennia
  • Staff can advise on local attractions and excursions such as horse riding, wineries and markets

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Masseria Cianciò is a great place for families. The property is large enough for kids to roam around freely, there's a pool and playground, and all rooms can take 2+ people, plus there are extra beds and cots.

The nearest shops are about 8 minutes' drive away in Pozzallo, useful if you're going the self-catering route with a kitchenette. You're close enough to beaches, too.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

All rooms can hold multiple occupants, but the apartments and room which have kitchenettes (nos. 7, 12, and 19), and the family rooms (nos. 5, 15, 21 and 23), would work best for families. We saw a couple of extended families staying here when we stayed; the way the rooms are laid out means you could take 2 or 3 next to each other and share private gardens and kitchenettes for a fun, multi-generational holiday.

Children's meals:

  • Bottle warming
  • High chairs
  • Blender/mixer can be provided

Kids Activities on site:

  • Playground
  • Pool
  • Fields and garden to roam around

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches at Pozzallo
  • Ruins at Agrigento to explore
  • Vendicari Nature Reserve

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced but there are walls and gates around the pool garden area itself.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 8 minutes
  • Shops: 8 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
9/
Overall

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