Tenuta Borgia

Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £84 per night

A secret Med hideaway: just 7 Arabic dammusi on Pantelleria's wildly beautiful south coast (sleeping 2-8, self catering)
When you first arrive on Pantelleria, you might think you’ve made a mistake: this Italian island has no carefully groomed beaches, no orderly rows of sun umbrellas and no fishing villages boasting award-winning gelato. Until recently, it had virtually no tourists – other than in-the-know Italians and a handful of reclusive celebs. But that's beginning to change. Travellers are being lured by the strangely beautiful volcanic landscape: a sparsely populated scene of jagged mountains, crater lakes, steaming fumaroles and terraced dwarf vines, baked by a Mediterranean sun and swept by hot Saharan winds.

On the southwest coast, dotted amongst 12 hectares of fragrant pinewoods, olive groves and low-slung palms, are 7 ancient dammusi - traditional Arab-style dwellings unique to the island. Unassuming from the outside, the dome-roofed stone structures have been tastefully remodelled into characterful self-catering houses that are perfect for couples, family groups and friends (and unlike most of conservative Sicily, it's extremely gay friendly). Bask on your sunny terrace, explore picturesque coves by moped or boat, sample local tavernas and sip Passito wine as the sun sets over Neolithic burial domes. We’ve already fallen for the island's exotic charm and can’t wait to visit in person.

Highs

  • Fantastic value
  • A remote Sicilian island with cool Arabic influences and none of the trappings of mass tourism
  • Plenty of privacy and space to relax; each dammusi is surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean flora
  • Fully equipped kitchens, alfresco dining terraces, and a trattoria 20 mins' walk away
  • Sitting on your terrace as the sun sets over Tunisia, revealing an incredible display of stars

Lows

  • Only the biggest house has a swimming pool and Pantelleria has no beaches; swimming is off the rocky coast or in a volcanic lake
  • Limited flights, especially off season, but the beautiful uncrowded landscapes are worth the effort
  • You’ll need a car to get here and around; the estate is fairly remote
  • Summer can be very hot and winds are strong year-round
  • A 3-night minimum stay and rates don't include an end-of-stay clean. Note you'll need to pay a security deposit in Cash on arrival

Best time to go

Pantelleria has a Mediterranean climate buffeted by year-round winds. Summer (June-September) is hot with clear skies and little chance of rain. Winter is cooler and wetter. Tenuta Borgia is closed Jan-Feb. The shoulder seasons are ideal: come in spring (March-May) or autumn (October) for hiking, or if you'd like to watch grape-harvesting in action, visit in September.

Our top tips

Pantelleria is famous for Passito wine, recognised by Unesco for its ancient cultivation methods. The wind-resistant North African 'Zibibbo' grapes are partially dried in the sun before fermentation, giving them a honey-sweet citrus aroma. You'll see terraces of vines stretching across the valleys and, unlike many of Italy’s winemakers, vineyards on Pantelleria welcome visitors. Tastings are a must - best paired with 'baci Panteschi: flower-shaped pastries with ricotta cheese dipped in a thin batter.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Retreat
  • 7 houses for 2-8
  • Self catering (restaurants nearby)
  • Welcome but not ideal
  • Closed: January & February
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room: Vigna

Rooms

On a fertile hillside overlooking the sea, the 7 dammusi are typical of 10th-century Pantelleria island architecture. Extra-thick walls of volcanic stone provide effective insulation from the hostile climate, while gently undulating cupolas are cleverly engineered to capture precious rainwater.

Outdoor terraces with pretty pergolas lead seamlessly into cool interiors, elegantly designed by owner Baroness Rosa Borgia herself. Majolica-tiled floors and heavy wooden shutters are complemented by vaulted ceilings and intimate alcoves, then minimally decorated with vintage furniture and oversized pots. Bathrooms and kitchens are simple but stylish, equipped with everything you need.

Of the 7 houses, Jolly, Gelso, Pineta and Vigna are ideal for couples (sleeping 2), while Palmeto and Limoni would suit small families (sleeping 4 + an extra bed). The main house, Grande, is heritage listed and can sleep up to 8. Its stunning 12m tiled pool featured heavily in A Bigger Splash (Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton). Palmeto and Limoni have private plunge pools and sundecks. We particularly like the look of Vigna, the most isolated of the estate’s houses, with its traditional outdoor grill.

Features include:

  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fan
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob or stove
  • Terrace
  • Toaster

Eating

Most of the dammusi have fully equipped kitchens with microwave, stove, oven, dishwasher and fridge-freezer; Jolly has a basic outdoor kitchenette. Dining is an indoor-outdoor affair with large marble tables and rustic seaview patios. You can help yourself to juicy lemons, peaches, loquats, grapes, figs and persimmons from the trees. The estate also produces cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and bottles of sweet ‘wind dried’ Passito wine – you'll get one of each as a thank you for booking through i-escape.

It’s a 20-minute walk to the village of Rekhale, where there’s a small store and a decent local trattoria, U Trattu. For more choice head to Scauri, 5km away, where you’ll find traditional bars, restaurants and markets. Typical island dishes include ravioli amari (filled with ricotta and mint), couscous with seafood, and perhaps the world's-best caponata (aubergine stew).

If you want to eat in, but don’t feel like cooking, Tenuta Borgia can arrange a personal chef to prepare a dinner based on local products.

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob or stove
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Shopping service
  • Toaster
  • Basic supplies
Eating: Grande
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the 12-hectare estate, with its Mediterranean shrubs and beautiful Arabian garden; stone walls protect precious citrus vegetation and an ancient irrigation system
  • Rent a boat (with or without skipper) to putter along the local coast; the most spectacular stretch is from Scauri to the famous Elephant Arch
  • Slather yourself in mineral-rich mud scooped from the warm, turquoise waters of the Mirror of Venus crater lake
  • Climb the island's highest peak, Montagna Grande (843m), then seek out the natural hot sauna in a grotto on the side of the mountain
  • Admire 4,000 year-old stone sesi (tombs) near Mursia on the west coast, and find out more about the island's rich archaeological heritage in the local museum
  • Swim off black rocks in a sheltered cove, such as Cala Tramontana, Cala Levante and Balata dei Turchi; the clear water and intriguing submarine landscapes are perfect for diving or snorkelling
  • Soak in natural hot springs at Cala Nikà and the Baths of Gadir
  • The island is Unesco-listed for its wine-growing techniques, and the only place in Italy to grow zibibbo grapes: be sure to visit vineyards and do a tasting

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are welcome at Tenuta Borgia but it's not ideal for younger children as the terrain is rough, and the bedrooms are not adjoining - sometimes they are spread 20m apart in separate buildings.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Grande sleeps 8 and has a gorgeous 12m pool; it's a beautiful space for family groups looking to relax, hang out and explore. If your party is slightly bigger, book nearby Pineta, too (sleeping 2). Limoni and Palmeta sleep 4 + an extra bed, and Limoni can be rented together with nearby Jolly (sleeping 6 + an extra bed); they are connected by a path winding up through the pine trees and rosemary shrubs. All dammusi except Jolly and Gelso can take a baby cot.

Baby equipment:

Travel cot and high chair

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Families Should Know:

There are no beaches on the island; swimming is off rocks/boats, or in the inland lake. It can be very hot here in summer so you'll probably want to book a villa with a pool to cool off in (Grande, Limoni or Palmeto).

Distances:

  • Airport: 19km (Pantelleria)
  • Restaurant/grocery store: 20 mins' walk
Kid Friendly: PDG

Location

Tenuta Borgia is a 12-hectare estate on the southwest coast of the Sicilian island of Pantelleria, 70km east of Tunisia.

By Air:
Pantelleria Airport (19km) is a 15-minute drive from the property and receives daily flights from Palermo and Trapani and twice-weekly flights from Catania. In summer, there are also direct flights from Milan, Rome and other Italian cities. You'll need to hire car to get here and explore the island's narrow roads.

By Boat:
Overnight ferries run year-round between Trapani and the port of Pantelleria. In summer, a hydrofoil runs daily, taking just over 2 hours.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Pantelleria 19.0 km PNL

Other:

  • Beach 0.0 km
  • Shops 2.0 km
  • Restaurant 2.0 km

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