The Ispica Hideaway

near Modica, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £319 per night

A stylishly restored stone cottage (sleeps 4-8) overlooking the Ispica gorge, near Modica and the south coast beaches

We love the timeless landscapes in this corner of Sicily. Picture a patchwork of ancient fields bounded by dry stone walls, gnarled carob trees and carpets of wild flowers, dotted with stunning Baroque churches and medieval towns (you may have heard of Modica and Ragusa), and riven by steep gorges. One of those is the Cava d'Ispica, a 13km-long ravine whose limestone walls hide Neolithic burial caves, troglodytic dwellings and a restored water mill.

This is the setting for The Ispica Hideaway, a rambling stone cottage which has been stylishly renovated to offer two bedrooms, an open-plan kitchen-diner, several shaded outdoor living spaces and a sleek little pool, all set in an acre of landscaped semi-arid gardens. An adjacent outhouse offers a third double bedroom - handy for (grand)parents, perhaps. Inside, expect a mix of traditional Sicilian tiles, vintage mirrors and lamps, and lovely Art Deco chairs, alongside contemporary beds, bathrooms and kitchen fittings. Heading out, it's a 15-minute drive to the theatrically beautiful town (and excellent eateries) of Modica; 30 minutes to hilltop Ragusa and to the sandy beaches of Pozzallo or Donnalucata. All in all, a great base for a family or small group wanting to explore the rich history and varied landscapes of southeast Sicily.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • The bamboo-screened terrace is a great spot for relaxing and eating: in summer this will be your dining room
  • Thick stone walls, small windows and air-con keep the cottage cool in summer
  • We love the high, white-painted eaves in bedrooms and living room
  • Using extra beds, the house can sleep up to 8 in total
  • Near the house are lovely viewpoints over the Cava d'Ispica; trails continue down to the gorge bed in 30 mins

Lows

  • Apart from the gardens and the gorge, the surrounding landscape is flat and rather featureless
  • No restaurants, bars or shops within walking distance
  • Not so great with toddlers, with various drops, hard surfaces, and a raised concrete wall around the pool
  • The pool itself is quite small (8x3m), fine for cooling off but not for serious lengths
  • Weekly rentals only

Best time to go

Spring (April-early June) and autumn (September-October) are the most pleasant times to visit. The weather is perfect for gentle exploration, and swimming is quite feasible until early November. Sicily is very hot in summer (July-August), but the cottage's thick walls and air-con keep it cool, and of course there's a pool to plunge into if it gets too sticky.

Our top tips

Fans of the Montalbano TV series should make a beeline for Scicli (20 mins' drive), two of whose historic palazzi serve as the police station and HQ (wander and you'll find them). A little further, at the eastern end of Sampieri beach, you will no doubt recognise the iconic ruined mannara (old brick factory) overlooking the dunes - site of some gruesome mysteries. And it's the seafront of Punta Secca (55 mins) where the Inspector has his "home" - and his daily swim.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Cottage
  • 2-3 bedrooms
  • Self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 10 Jan 2023 - 28 Feb 2023
  • Outdoor 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
  • Cleaning every 3 days
Room:

Rooms

The main building has two bedrooms (one double, and one which can be twin or double bedded), each with its own bathroom and space for an extra bed if needed. Furnishings are sparse but carefully chosen; we love the blend of colourful ceramic wall tiles, white-painted eaves, vintage mirrors and lamps, and restored Art Deco chairs. Beds and bedding are, by all accounts, super comfy; and there are classy toiletries, plump towels, air-con and WiFi.

The open-plan living-dining-cooking area is more contemporary. At one end is a black-topped kitchen unit (gas hob, sink, microwave in the wall), with well-stocked cupboards and a top-notch coffee machine - no Sicilian house is complete without one! There's sofa seating for 4, a pouffe or two, a small desk, satellite TV and sound system, plus a table for 6 which we think will be rarely used as most meals will be enjoyed on the shady terrace outside.

Adjoining the cottage is a third bedroom - double-bedded, with a separate entrance and its own bathroom and outside seating.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Outdoor shower
  • Satellite TV
  • Swimming pool
  • Washing machine

Eating

The cottage comes with a well-equipped kitchen (see above) and indoor/outdoor dining areas. You can book a local chef if you want to take it easy, or drive into Modica (15 mins) for anything from simple Sicilian specialities to top-dollar dining. The owner recommends the Michelin-starred Accursio, or the traditional Osteria di Sapori Perduti on Corso Umberto, where we've enjoyed delicious antipasti in the past. There's also Taverna Migliore on the way into Modica, for contemporary cuisine and easy parking.

Near the Cava d'Ispica Archaeological Park (7 mins' drive) are a few countryside trattorie and pizzerie, but there's nothing within easy walking of the cottage. The same applies to shops - plenty in and around Modica, but nothing nearer, except a simple bakery at Abbate (4 mins' drive away).

Features include:

  • Chef on request
  • Coffee maker
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge
  • Hob or stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The 13km-long gorge of the Cava d'Ispica is at your feet - you can't (and shouldn't) miss it. There are shady hiking trails, Neolithic catacombs and rupestrian refuges cut into the rockface; adventurous kids will love the ladders and lairs of Il Castello Sicano
  • Nearby Modica (15 mins) is perhaps our favourite Baroque town in the region, its close-packed houses and ornate churches laid out amphitheatrically across a steep valley, with excellent eateries and artisanal chocolate makers to boot
  • Other historic towns worth a visit include Scicli (20 mins) and Ragusa (30 mins) - the former tucked into a gorge, the latter perched on a dramatic hilltop with views to match. Both belong to the World Heritage Site of Val di Noto
  • It's only 30 mins drive to the sandy beaches of Pozzallo, Donnalucata and Sampieri; the latter, in particular, is long enough to cope with any summer crowds
  • You'll find truly secluded beaches in the Vendicari Nature Reserve (also 30 mins), along with migrating flamingoes, storks, egrets, spoonbills and more, drawn to its wetlands in spring and autumn
  • For a change of scene, head to stylish Siracusa (45 mins), whose elegant sea-washed Ortigia peninsula lends itself to fine fish lunches and an evening passegiata; there are ancient Greek ruins, too

Kids

This cottage works well for a family of 4-5, possibly with grandparents or an extra couple in the separate third bedroom. Two extra beds can be supplied, so if you work out the bed allocation carefully, you might manage with two families of 4 - though bear in mind there's only one kitchen-living room, of course. Cots can be supplied at no charge.

Families Should Know:

There are unprotected drops and sharp edges, including a raised concrete wall around the pool. The garden has prickly plants.

Distances:

  • Supermarket: 15 mins (Modica)
  • Hospital: 15 mins (Modica)
  • Beach: 30 mins (Pozzallo)
Kid Friendly:

Location

The Ispica Hideaway is set above the Cava d'Ispica gorge and archaeological site, 10km east of the lovely Baroque town of Modica, in southeast Sicily.

By Air:
Comiso (65km) is the nearest airport, but for a wider range of flights we suggest trying Catania (125km) or even Palermo (300km). You'll need a car - see our recommendations.

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

Airports:

  • Catania 125.0 km CTA
  • Comiso 65.0 km CIY

Other:

  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 5.0 km

Rates for The Ispica Hideaway

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