One of our favourite destinations, Sicily beguiles with its stunning natural landscape, beautiful beaches and mouthwatering cuisine. You’ll find all three at Hotel Villa Ducale, an enchanting aristocratic villa perched above the gorgeous Taormina Bay. We sat down with owner Rosaria Quartucci to find out how this wonderful hideaway is inspired by the fascinating and alluring Sicilian landscape surrounding it.
It is Rosaria’s passion for hospitality and meeting new people that led her to transform this private residence into one of Sicily’s most charming boutique hotels. ‘I am a people oriented person, and I love to transmit my passion and my Sicilian culture to everyone that I meet’ she tells us. ‘My husband shares this passion, and when we got married we decided to convert my family house into a hotel, and start this adventure together.’
The hotel’s origin as a private house is a large part of Villa Ducale’s enchanting character. The building’s design frees Villa Ducale from the uniformity of larger hotels, says Rosaria, ‘Every single room in the hotel is differently designed and all of them have an amazing view.’ The interiors, designed by specialised Italian interior designers Studio Area, are in Rosaria’s words, ‘inspired by our warm Sicilian colours’; they’re incredibly inviting, with their terracotta tiling and traditional wrought-iron and painted ceramic decorations.
As fans of cult series Inspector Montalbano will know, Sicilians take their food very seriously indeed, and Rosaria is no exception; Villa Ducale is famous for its mouthwatering home-cooked feasts. ‘What makes our food and drink so special is the ingredients we use, which are one hundred-percent local,’ Rosaria tells us. ‘We want our guests to know and experience our traditions, which is why you’ll find simple recipes that tell you our story.’ Does Rosaria have a favourite dish? ‘It would definitely be the granita!’ she tells us. ‘It’s a typical Sicilian dish that we usually have for breakfast, made with just crushed ice, fruit and sugar, served of course with a brioche on the side.’ Meals are served on the enchanting panoramic terrace, which has simply gorgeous views down into Taormina Bay below, and is Rosaria’s favourite spot in the hotel. ‘I love looking at Mount Etna and the coast while enjoying a glass of wine,’ she tells us.
Rosaria’s passion really shines through in the small details that make Villa Ducale so luxurious and enjoyable. ‘We consider our guests as old friends visiting us,’ she tells us. The intimate nature of Villa Ducale means that there’s a very personal dimension to the service given by Paolo, the General Manager, and his team. ‘Our chefs Didief and Santina are always ready to hear if you have any special, off-the-menu, requests for the day,’ Rosaria says. ‘We even have a pillow menu on the bed side table so you can choose your favourite type of pillow for the most comfortable stay.’ The team at Villa Ducale will also create personalised itineraries to best explore the surrounding countryside, Rosaria tells us, where you’ll see ‘panoramic side roads or little streets, where you only see locals and local products.’ Taormina is famous for its characterful medieval streets and ancient ruins, while down in the bay the beautiful Isola Bella is home to exotic flora and private bathing spots.
Whether lounging in the sun on the terrace with an ice-cold granita, exploring the picturesque streets of Taormina, or swimming in the azure waters of the bay, you’re guaranteed to find peace and relaxation amidst the luxurious setting of Villa Ducale. As Rosaria herself says, ‘Villa Ducale is a place that makes you dream with opened eyes. You will find a home away from home where you will be surrounded by beauty and good food.’