“A peaceful and remote hotel in the hills above gorgeous Noto, with a stunning pool and simple, rustic rooms”
There are 34 uncluttered and spacious rooms - 24 doubles (12 Standard and 12 more spacious Superiors), 8 Triples and 2 Family Rooms, the latter being split over 2 levels. Initial impressions are of a cool, dark space with high timbered ceilings and a minimum of fuss. Furniture comes in plain dark wood in a typical rustic style; our room had a large chest of drawers and little else. The linen was crisp and cool, though the bed itself was too firm for our taste. Overall, the look is calm and natural, almost plain, with no frills but all the basic comforts: air conditioning, a small fridge, a safe, a TV (suspended rather unattractively in the top corner), and racks on the external stairways for drying swimming costumes.
The impeccable bathrooms are all really well fitted out, with plenty of space. They're neutral in tone and design, with walk-in showers and hairdryers, but no bathtubs.
All the rooms open onto an external staircase or patio area, so the lovely garden is never far away. The Superior rooms are in the best position overlooking the gardens, and come with an outdoor table and chairs to allow you to soak up this view.
It shows how much space there is at the masseria when breakfast can be served in an entirely different room to dinner. Both rooms come off the main courtyard, which has outdoor seating as well as a cantina for wine tasting. The pretty dining room also has a large terrace looking across the countryside.
The fairly limited but tasty dinner menu offers traditional Sicilian food presented in a sophisticated manner - perhaps a timbale of sardines and unusual little chickpea fritters. The wine list has a great range of Sicilian bottles.
Breakfast is a buffet of cereals, cold meats, cheeses and lots of sweet pastries that the Sicilians just love to start the day with. There was also cake and lots of fresh fruit when we visited, and coffee and tea were brought to our table. Since our visit, the hotel has also started serving lunch daily, so you could quite easily spend the whole day relaxing in the grounds.
For more variety, drive down to Noto (15 minutes away). We adored Il Cantuccio, tucked into tastefully lit, vaulted chambers, where you get impeccably presented nouveau Sicilian cuisine, including mini platters of local cheeses with pistachio sauce, fronds of grilled octopus, and a perfect ratatouille. We also loved the more down-to-earth fare and laid-back atmosphere at Trattoria Baglieri, also dubbed Crocifisso, being near the church of that name. Pasta portions are big, fresh and decidedly al dente, accompanied by fried fennel, artichokes or wild asparagus, washed down with decent Nero d'Avola, and followed by a deliciously melting chocolate mousse.
While you're in town, don't on any account miss Caffe Sicilia, which serves the island's best sweets at simple streetside tables on the main drag: creamy cassata and cannoli, iced coffee with whipped cream, moist cupcakes, and homemade gelati and granite bursting with the flavours of strawberry, almond and a dozen other fruits.
Children are welcome in both the hotel and the restaurant. The larger rooms cater well for families and our very young children enjoyed the pool, meeting the hotel's friendly dogs, and running around in the garden. Cots and highchairs are available, and babysitters can be organised on request.
Triple Rooms (1 double bed and 1 single bed) and Family Rooms (1 double bed and 2 single beds) are available; the latter are split over 2 levels. Cots can be added to all rooms for a small charge. Note that all rooms have showers only (no bathtubs).
Babysitting is available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking