“A peaceful and remote hotel in the hills above gorgeous Noto, with a stunning pool and simple, rustic rooms”
The 19th-century farmhouse is built around a baglio (courtyard), with an old olive tree providing shade. The reception, restaurant and breakfast room are off this central space, with the accommodation in newly built blocks across the lawn. Modern edges are softened by the dusky pink colour of the walls and the jasmine, honeysuckle and rose plants climbing up the sides. Across the lawn is the beautiful infinity pool: semi-circular and surrounded by sun loungers shaded by olive trees. Simple, comfy rooms have high beamed ceilings; some are triples or split-level quadruples, which will suit families. But it's the setting which makes it: you're in the depths of nature, with Sicily's most spectacular river gorge and one of her loveliest Baroque towns both on your doorstep.
- Peaceful, rural location and an idyllic setting amongst olive and carob trees
- Fantastic large infinity pool for those hot summer days (it can reach 40C in these parts)
- A good base for exploring Noto (a Unesco World Heritage site), Siracusa and Ragusa, plus the gorge of Cava Grande and the sandy beaches of the Vendicari Nature Reserve
- Some excellent Sicilian wines on offer in the cantina, plus a sophisticated dinner menu
- Friendly, discreet service
- The hotel is very remote and only accessible by car; there's no public transport up from Noto (8km / 15 minutes' drive away) and you'll want to arrive in daylight first time round
- Internet access on request only, tech-junkies may struggle
- Rooms - by our high standards - verge on the bland
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (open daily for dinner)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Tennis Court
- Bicycles Available
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.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- Internet access
- Safe box
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.
- Explore the Unesco World Heritage town of Noto, one of the Baroque gems of Sicily and rebuilt from scratch after the 1693 earthquake. Take in ornate palazzi, honey-stoned churches (the duomo was recently restored) and the pedestrianised Corso Emmanuele (a people-watcher's paradise)
- Further afield (1-1.5 hours) are the equally stunning Baroque towns of Modica (famous for its chocolate), Ragusa (home to Michelin-starred restaurants) and Scicli (walk up to the abandoned cathedral for fantastic rooftop views)
- You're well placed for a day trip to Siracusa, once the most important city in the Mediterranean and settled for over 2,000 years. Its old town (Ortigia) sits on a sea-washed spur, with a restored cathedral bearing traces of every passing culture, and there's a Greek theatre in the newer town
- A must-see for hikers is the spectacular Cava Grande gorge, just 5km from the hotel. It's 300m deep and bissected by an emerald river which forms green pools. To escape the weekend crowds, turn left when you reach the valley floor and picnic on the smooth-rocked banks
- The pretty town of Palazzolo Acreide, famous for its Greek theatre, is also nearby (20km away)
- Drive down to the coast and check out some of the beautiful beaches; the nearest is Lido di Noto, 16km away, but far lovelier are the secluded coves of the Vendicari Nature Reserve, particularly Calamosche and Eloro (both a 15-minute walk from the road)
- There's great birdwatching in the wetlands around Vendicari, including flamingos, herons, spoonbills and collared pratincoles
- Other activities include diving courses in Siracusa, and horse riding around Noto
- Or just laze around the masseria's gorgeous pool, enjoying the view and the peaceful atmosphere
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Scuba diving
- Scuba diving courses
- Shopping / markets
- Wine tasting
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.
Family friendly accommodation:
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
Masseria degli Ulivi is 8km north of the town of Noto, in southeastern Sicily. It's about 16km from the coast.
Fly to Catania (85km away), which is about 90 minutes from the hotel or Comiso (85km away) which although the same distance will take nearer to an hour 15 mins. If you're touring the whole of Sicily, you might fly into Palermo (320km away), which is a 3-hour drive.
From the Airport
Transfers can be arranged (see Rates), but it's better to hire a car - the hotel is remote and it's a drive to get anywhere.
For car hire see our car rental recommendations.
If you're driving from southern mainland Italy, take the regular ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina (every 20 minutes; sailing time of 20 minutes) and then follow the A18 motorway south to Catania (155km / 1.5 hours) and on to Noto.
The nearest train station is in Noto, 8km away; from there you can take a taxi. There are no car hire offices at the station, but some companies can arrange delivery.
Detailed directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to Sicily and getting around
- Catania Fontanarossa 85.0 km CTA
- Comiso 85.0 km CIY
- Beach 16.0 km
- Shops 8.0 km
- Restaurant 8.0 km