Gorgeous house rentals (each sleeping 4-8) in four of Sicily's most picturesque spots: Cefalu, Noto, Selinunte & Trapani”
As luck would have it, our latest Sicilian discoveries are situated just outside these pearls: close enough to dip into their dolce vita, secluded enough to feel that you have a corner of the island to yourselves. There's also a bonus villa (which we've yet to visit) in a secluded rural hamlet, near westerly Trapani. Each villa is perfect for family or a small group of friends: 3-4 bedrooms, gorgeous indoor-outdoor living areas, lawned gardens with private pools that give you every reason to stay firmly put.
Each has its own trump card, too. At Selinunte: endless shaded grounds and a lovely boho-chic vibe. At Noto: bright contemporary interiors and infinite horizons south towards sunny Malta. At Cefalu, a choice: open-plan new-builds or handsomely restored casa di campagna, all with plunging views over turquoise coast and lush valleys. At Trapani, fantastic outdoor living spaces coupled with elegant, patrician interiors. Service from local caretakers and London-based head honcho Massimo is exemplary: private chefs, vineyard tours, and the warmest of welcomes.
- All villas have wonderful views over wild countryside to the sea - except Selinunte which has shady gardens and citrus groves, and Trapani which looks out to the mountainous interior
- We love their outdoor living areas: you can relax in the shade while kids splash in the pool
- Each house has its own al fresco dining area and BBQ: grill fresh fish (or veg from the gardens) and dine under the stars!
- It's a godsend having a private pool to retreat to, especially in Cefalu which can get busy in midsummer
- Massimo and his caretakers seemingly know everybody and can arrange anything - so make the most of that!
- Cefalu 1 and 4 do not accept kids under 8
- Cefalu 1 lacks A/C (but there are fans)
- Be aware that Cefalu 2-4 and Noto are new-builds, with more of a clean, contemporary feel
- In Noto, the third bedroom is really a single (but a second bed can be added)
- While most houses have ensuite bathrooms, Cefalu 3 has 1 bathroom per pair of bedrooms - which works best if you're two families
Best time to go
Our top tips
(If they are all full and your dates are not flexible, ask Massimo if he has access to any other villas for that period).”
- Boutique Villas
- 7 villas for 4-8
- Self-catering (chef on request)
- Children welcome (Cefalu Villas 1 & 4: over 8s only)
- Closed: Some villas close Nov-March
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
There are 4 villas in the hills above Cefalù - two to the west, one to the east - with plunging views over lush valleys to the coast and the dramatic pimple of Cefalù's rock fortress. It's as if you're hanging between the mountains and the sea.
CEFALU VILLA 1 is a beautifully restored, two-storey country house full of soul. There are cool, high-beamed living rooms with a scattering of retro-chic furniture, and a wonderfully equipped kitchen (check out the colander display!) which is the hub of the house. These give onto a wide terrace with potted palms, sofas and a bamboo-shaded pergola divided into dining and sitting areas: the most popular 'rooms' in the house. It's a short walk through well tended gardens to the decked pool, perched on the edge of the hill and part-shaded by an ancient oak. Upstairs are 3 bedrooms: 2 doubles (ensuite) and 1 quad (separate bathroom) which is perfect for 4 older kids. There's no A/C here, but there are fans, thick walls and cool breezes.
CEFALU VILLA 2, newly built in 2018, is perfect for families with kids of all ages, and anyone who prefers contemporary, bright interiors. Here, the 3 bedrooms are downstairs - with French windows onto the lawns and pool - while the airy white open-plan kitchen-diner is upstairs, with its own large terrace. There is masses of space, indoors and out, for everyone. We particularly like the dining pergola (with hammock!), the smooth wooden floors in the bedrooms, the salvaged wooden boat by the pool, and of course those views - which, as happy guests invariably comment, "you can never tire of".
CEFALU VILLA 3, set in the hills above Lascari and shaded by a tall pine tree, has 4 bedrooms divided into two pairs (1 double and 1 twin on each level), making it especially handy for two families travelling together. The lower level opens straight out onto the 12-metre pool, with its lawn and loungers; the upper level has the better bathroom (shower and tub). On the middle level is a generous open-plan living space, including a sitting room with huge picture windows to the coast and the rugged hills which separate you from Cefalù.
CEFALU VILLA 4 has flexible accommodation, with 3 bedrooms in the main house and a 4th in a separate annexe: great if you're travelling with your parents, for example. The open-plan ground-floor living-dining space has huge swing-windows opening onto the pool terrace. Inside, the decor is bold and exotic, with geometric fabrics and prints of smiling African women. An unrailed staircase - no kids under 8 allowed here - leads up to 3 double bedrooms, all ensuite (one has a striking black bathtub); the fourth bedroom in the annexe also has its own bathroom.
All villas are 15-20 mins' drive from Cefalù, with its many shops, streetside restaurants, fishing harbour, Norman cathedral and sandy beach. For essentials, you can nip to the nearest village (Gibilmanna / Sant' Ambrogio); the former also has a simple pizzeria. The adventurous can explore the footpaths of the Madonie mountains, visit a cheese-making shepherd, taste local wines or learn to make fresh ravioli and pastella. We can recommend all of the above.
Perched on terraced olive groves above the Baroque town of Noto in southeast Sicily, this newly built house of pale local stone is a real steal. Interiors are sparse and minimalist, but perfectly designed, with everything you need. There's a big and beautiful kitchen, two spacious white bedrooms (great mattresses, walk-in wetrooms), a sleekly lit living area with comfy seating indoors and out, and a private pool with endless views rolling down to the sea. A third single/twin room is fine for kid(s).
The house is set on stone-walled terraces with low trees, cacti and aromatic shrubs - pick herbs or peppers to spice up your barbecue. There's not much natural shade, but two slatted pergolas and a lovely sense of Med-meets-Africa.
It's 10 mins' drive into the elegantly weathered town of Noto, whose ornate churches and civic buildings line the central Corso like a theatre set peopled with elegant extras from a Fellini film. Needless to say, there's no shortage of great restaurants and gelaterie ; try the almond granita at Caffè Sicilia. Equally stunning are the hilltowns of Ragusa and Modica, the ancient quarries and medieval lanes of Siracusa, and the shallow beaches and flamingo-filled wetlands of Vendicari: all 30-40 mins' drive away.
Selinunte & Trapani
THE SELINUNTE VILLA is a real hideaway, tucked among acres of olive and citrus groves - think fresh oranges for breakfast juicing, and total seclusion from the outside world. The warmly tiled, peach-painted bungalow has a bohemian, indoor-outdoor living vibe. We love the al fresco sitting and dining alcoves, with low candlelit seating, rolling blinds and potted bougainvillea. This is where most of your time will be spent, when not splashing in the good-sized pool, drying off on the wooden deck or the extensive lawns. It's paradise for kids.
Interiors have a Moorish or oriental touch, with hanging kilims and reclaimed carved-wood doors, some of them repurposed as ethnic-chic bedheads. Two of the bedrooms have double beds (1 kingsize, 1 queensize), while the third is twin-bedded. All have A/C and French windows onto the garden. The kitchen - a smallish room - still packs in a fridge-freezer, gas hob, oven, dishwasher and microwave.
It's 5 minutes' drive into Castelvetrano, a sprawling, pretty enough town with authentic trattorie and plenty of shops. More importantly, the breathtaking ancient temples of Selinunte - perhaps the most quietly impressive Greek site in the Med - is 10 minutes away, with wild sandy beaches alongside. Trapani and Agrigento are both about an hour away.
If you want to be nearer the Trapani coast, not to mention the hilltop gem of Erice and the spectacular coves of Zingaro, base yourselves in THE TRAPANI VILLA. Set on the edge of an authentic Sicilian hamlet called Buseto Palizzolo, the converted farmhouse has lofty living spaces and large bedrooms (2 triples and 1 double), with venerable stone walls, dainty chandeliers and vintage furnishings. It feels altogether more historic and patrician.
The stainless steel kitchen is superbly equipped, and there are plenty of enchanting outdoor sitting-dining areas. But it's the pool terrace which once again steals the show, with its infinity-edged 11m saltwater pool and views past olive and palm trees to the rocky hills that dominate Sicily's rugged interior.
All the villas are great for children, with 3-4 bedrooms, a good sized pool (unheated) and beaches nearby; but note that Cefalu Villas 1 and 4 are not suitable for younger kids due to steep gardens.
Our top picks for a family - including larger families or those travelling with grandparents - would be Selinunte, for its secluded lawned gardens (no steep drops!), or Cefalu Villa 2 for its unfussy rooms and outside space. Noto is perfect for family of 4 or 5, including infants (there is a cot and high chair). For two families travelling together, Cefalu Villas 1 and 4 works well, so long as all children are over 8.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Kids Activities on site:
Swimming pool (unheated)
Families Should Know:
All houses except Selinunte have some slopes and unfenced drops in the grounds.
The villas are located near Cefalu (on Sicily's north coast), near Noto (southeast Sicily), and near Selinunte (southwest Sicily).
> See all villa locations on a Google map (new window)
The closest airports are Palermo Falcone-Borsellino (for Cefalu), Catania Fontanarossa (for Noto), and also Trapani-Birgi (for Selinunte), though this has fewer flight connections.
From the Airport
You'll almost certainly need a rental car. All villas have off-street parking.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to Sicily and getting around
- Catania (for Noto) 90.0 km CTA
- Palermo (for Cefalu & Selinunte) 70.0 km PMO
- Beach 10.0 km
- Shops 5.0 km
- Restaurant 5.0 km