I am a travel writer who had the luck to spend her working life writing about the most extraordinarily beautiful places in the world.
When it came to deciding where I wanted to live and bring up my children, I sat down and wrote a list at the back of the notebook where I collected recipes. It looked like this:
Sea and sun
Interesting beaches – not long, endless strips with sun-umbrellas – wild, unspoilt coves, dunes etc, some reachable only by footpath or sea
An old town or village – evening passeggiata, some life.
Good fruit and veg.
No ugly holiday resorts; no package tours
House with a sea view
Garden? Grow veg?
A couple of other like-minded people — not just peasants and fishermen
A Slow Food type trattoria
Ancient, preferably mythological resonances
Choosing the perfect villa for a holiday is very similar. And just as important. You need to find a villa and a location that gives you and the people you are with, everything they are looking for.
However, if you have never stayed in a luxury villa in Sicily before, the sheer choice of magnificent coastal and rural vacation rentals can be overwhelming. So here is how to choose the vacation rental in Sicily that is perfect for you.
First of all, why choose a villa in Sicily? Well, Sicily has one of the best climates in Europe – and mild winters and glorious weather in spring and autumn make a Sicilian villa the perfect choice for out of season holidays.
What is there to see in Sicily?
The first step in choosing the perfect villa in Sicily is to decide where to stay.
- fantastic beaches (Castellammare del Golfo, San Vito del Capo, Mondello, Cefalù, Sampieri)
- unspoilt nature reserves (Vendicari, Zingaro, Marinella, Torre Salsa) atmospheric ports and resorts (Cefalù, Trapani, Sciacca, Brucoli)
- small islands (Panarea, Salina, Lipari, Filicudi and the Aeolian islands, Favignana and the Egadi islands, Lampedusa, Linosa, Pantelleria and Ustica)
- dramatic mountain ranges (Madonie, Nebrodi, Peloritani)
- magnificent limestone scenery (Cava Grande del Cassibile, Pantalica, Monti Iblei)
- active volcanoes (Mount Etna, and the Aeolian islands of Stromboli and Vulcano) and spectacular volcanic rock formations (Gola del Alcantara and Costa dei Ciclopi)
- Greek temples at Agrigento, Selinunte, Segesta
- Greek theatres in Siracusa, Taormina, Palazzolo Acreide and Tindari
- Roman villas with magnificent mosaics at Piazza Armerina and Tellaro
- Norman and Byzantine castles and cathedrals at Palermo, Monreale and Cefalù
- Baroque towns Siracusa, Ragusa, Noto and Scicli
- picturesque hill-towns ranging from medieval Erice to glamorous Taormina
- The Montalbano trail – Scicli, Ragusa, Modica, Sampieri and Punta Secca
- Sicilian food – ice cream, chocolate, local cheeses, wine and oil, and the freshest fish, fruit and vegetables
What is there to do in Sicily?
- Beaches and watersports
- Wine and food tours
- Hiking and trekking
- Montalbano tours
- Godfather tours
- Gourmet restaurants
What kind of villa in Sicily do you want?
- Do you want one of the villas with pool in sicily?
- Do you want to be near the sea?
- Is a sea-view enough, or do you want a villa near a beach, a villa in walking distance of a beach, or a villa that is built right on a beach?
- Do you want private access to the sea? Or do you want to be near a beach with facilities like restaurants, bars and lidos?
- Do you want a mountain retreat where you can escape from the world? Or a historic country house or masseria, for a party or wedding?
- Do you want to be close to a bustling city like Palermo, or to a quieter, small historic town like Taormina, Cefalù, Siracusa, Ragusa or Noto?
- Do you want to be close to a golf course, or close to a volcano?
- If you decide stay on one of the minor islands, are you seeking nightlife (Panarea or Pantelleria), fantastic diving (Ustica) or to escape from the crowds (Filicudi)?
Choose the perfect villa
Having possible locations and possible villas, it is time to look at the fine details. Do you prefer a contemporary villa or a sensitively restored historic building? Do you want to be able to walk to shops or restaurants, or is remoteness more important? Do you want to buy local produce and cook, or would you prefer the luxury of a cook or maid? Is privacy paramount? Or would you feel more comfortable knowing the owners live nearby?