If you’ve been keeping up with this year’s travel trends, you might be dreading the idea of planning a full-fledged trip abroad. Flight cancellations and chaotic airport traffic can cast a shadow over your getaway even before it starts, especially if you’re considering traveling to Europe. If you just can’t get your mind off of an Italian escape but are having a hard time grappling with the logistics, consider planning a trip through Cultural Italy to take the edge off. The company specializes in organizing tailored, bespoke adventures that consider exactly what you want out of your trip, whether that means staying active with a packed schedule or letting go and tuning out.
When you book an itinerary from Cultural Italy, your accommodations, activities and transportation are all arranged in advance, meaning all you have to do is get on the right flight! The company offers a number of pre-designed trip ideas meant to stir the art historian, naturalist or romantic in you, but nothing about your final itinerary is pre-packaged. Mixing and matching elements to fit your interests, Cultural Italy re-imagines the best of the country through your eyes, making you feel at home while enjoying a new cultural experience. If you do run into any speed bumps while abroad, the company is on hand to sort things out, provide assistance and get your trip back on track as fast as possible.
If you’re wondering which region of Italy to visit, consider devoting your stay to exploring Sicily, the Mediterranean Sea’s largest island. Steeped in archaeological history and boasting world class wine and beaches, Sicily can easily keep you busy over a one to three-week trip. The following top rated resorts highlight the beauty of the Sicilian coast, inviting you to discover different regions without forgoing classic Italian luxury.
Verdura Resort (Rocco Forte Hotels)
Western Sicily’s five star Verdura Resort is the perfect destination to kick off your tour of the island. Overlooking the Mediterranean, the Verdura offers an all-inclusive experience with luxury accommodations, spa services, gourmet dining and championship golf courses at your fingertips. Deluxe rooms, special suites and villas round out the resort’s lodging options, allowing you to choose just how much space and seclusion you prefer. Book an artfully decorated Forte Suite to enjoy the privacy of your own pool or the home-away-from-home atmosphere of one of the resort’s four oceanside villas. The Classic Suite offers a tasteful take on indoor and outdoor living, while Grand Suites take it up to the next level with more space and an amenity rich, apartment-like feel. Seamless design and repeating patterns inspired by 19th century tile-work fill the resort, infusing guest rooms and dining halls with a single, characteristic aesthetic that pays homage to Sicily’s rich history.
Blending nightlife and fine dining, Verdura’s on-site restaurants and bars offer local flavors, fresh spins on international cooking, and the allure of an Italian night out. Start your day with breakfast outdoors at Buongiorno, drop by Granita for Mediterranean tapas and wind down at Amare with a plate of fresh-caught seafood. With a residency at the resort’s Torre Bar through September, Dinings SW3 is another must; featuring innovative recipes from Chef Masaki Sugisaki, the limited edition menu pairs Japanese recipes with Sicilian ingredients, fusing culture and nature’s bounty to create a one of a kind culinary experience.
The Irene Forte Spa is another part of the resort you’ll want to devote at least one day to- surrounded by native fruit trees, the spa grounds complement its extensive facial and body treatment menu. Equally focused on mindfulness and physical rejuvenation, Irene Forte’s passion project is known for its high standards, commitment to sustainability, and dedicated specialists. If you’ve come to Sicily to reset, there’s no better environment to do so than among Verdura’s orange trees.
The spa also includes access to a number of temperature-controlled pools, including salt water options. Full gym access and classes are available to keep you in shape once you’re ready.
With its range of accommodations, amenities, secluded areas and outdoor spaces, Verdura makes your experience all about you, and what you need to take the moment by storm. If that means spending the entire day enjoying a private pool and facial, so be it- a stay at the resort allows you the time and space to take a step back. When you’re ready to jump back in, there’s plenty to explore, even within the lush hotel grounds.
If you’re looking for a one of a kind day trip within driving distance, spend the day at the Valley of the Temples, an ancient archaeological site boasting a number of re-discovered hellenic temples. Cultural Italy’s partnership with local service providers like Sicily Activities makes setting out on an excursion of your choice straightforward, convenient, and unforgettable.
Perched on Isola di Ortigia, a small island just south of the city of Syracuse, Ortea Palace invites you to Sicily’s eastern shore and the comforts of a vibrant coastal city. A full range of 75 rooms and suites awaits, including the two-story Tower Suite and Junior Suite Duplex. Facing the sea, the palace’s suites are perfectly situated for guests to enjoy a golden sunrise reflecting off the water while getting ready for breakfast. The resident gourmet restaurant, Il Cortile, joins the Champagnette Bar and La Cantina wine cellar to provide not only local cuisine, but also give guests the opportunity to participate in guided wine tastings.
To top things off, Ortea Palace guests have access to the on-site spa and wellness center, known for its expertly tailored approach to treatment. A Finnish sauna, whirlpool, salt pool, and sanotherm cabin are just some of the amenities available to spa guests, who are welcome to round out their facial or massage with a cup of hot herbal tea at the spa bar.
One of Ortea Palace’s main draws is its convenient, accessible location on the north end of Ortigia Island. The area is highly walkable, placing you just minutes away from renowned local restaurants, gelato spots, shopping, and even the Tempio di Apollo, an ancient Greek temple marking the heart of the island. Museums dedicated to the history of papyrus and Leonardo da Vinci are among other attractions one short, scenic walk away from your hotel room or suite. Cultural Italy strives to pair you with top notch private tour guides, taking your day on the town beyond a predictable tourist experience.
For an island experience within an island getaway, book a stay at Therasia Resort, located on Vulcano Island. Just off Sicily’s northeast coast, this tiny resort island is home to a nature reserve, charming town and pristine beaches. Part of the Aeolian archipelago, Vulcano Island is reachable by ferry from the Sicilian coast. Acting as its own seaside sanctuary, Therasia is a cliffside resort overlooking the sea and neighboring islands. Lodging options range from suites to single guest rooms, many of which feature ocean views. All spaces come with a wealth of amenities and carefully selected decor to match the hotel’s Mediterranean-style terraces, sweeping arches and light-filled interiors. The resort’s helpful Rooms & Suite Comparison tool lists the benefits of each space, making it easier to choose your accommodations.
Pool and swimming areas are spread out throughout the resort, and you can just as easily head down to the beach and immerse yourself in the sea. Four on-site restaurants elevate Sicilian cooking to new levels- the Michelin- starred Il Cappero is a must, whileI Grusoni’s expansive terrace treats you to al fresco dining at its finest. I Tenerumi Vegetarian Restaurant has a fully developed menu for vegetarians and guests with dietary restrictions, while two resort bars are your introduction to Sicily’s famous vineyards. Don’t miss the daily breakfast buffet, served fresh to make sure your day starts off on the brightest note possible.
If Vulcano’s serene location is your idea of a true break from it all, enhance your stay with a visit to Therasia’s spa, where treatments are inspired by the island itself. Personalized treatment options, a Turkish bath and a whirlpool tub are some of the included amenities, and a team of trained massage is on hand to make sure you get the best out of your experience.
While Therasia won’t offer you metropolitan city access, touring the center of Vulcano is an intimate, small town experience that allows you to spend more time appreciating the details. Complimentary shuttles with a fixed schedule take you between the resort and the island’s center, giving you easy access to local shops, markets, restaurants and more.
To elevate your island stay, Cultural Italy offers private chauffeur services, private boat tours and excursions to nearby islands that take sun and surf to another level.
Hotel Villa Igiea, A Rocco Forte Hotel
Hotel Villa Igiea from Rocco Forte Hotels is your headquarters for discovering Sicily’s capital and beyond. Having changed hands multiple times since the 19th century, the villa has a history almost as grand as its stunning facade. First converted into a hotel in the early 1900’s the villa hosted royals from across Europe and the world, coming back to life after the Second World War. Continuing to draw royals, along with film stars and celebrities, the Villa swiftly became one of Palermo’s architectural icons and landmarks. Recently restored, the Villa is ready for its next incarnation, still overlooking the same coastal harbor it towered over a century ago.
Deluxe guest rooms join sea view and terrace suites, giving guests a number of lodging options to choose from. Inspired by royal lore, the hotel’s Forte Suites are especially striking, incorporating local artwork, hand selected furniture and spacious outdoor terraces to bring guests the ultimate standard in contemporary luxury.
Villa Igiea’s Florio Restaurant invites visitors to sample the menu in the hotel’s original Louis XVI dining hall, while the Igiea Terrazza Bar offers exclusive liqueurs under vault-shaped ceilings and the glow of a fireplace.
When it comes to venturing out into Palermo, the hotel is conveniently located near the historic city center, meaning you can spend all day touring the Palermo Cathedral, Palazzo Riso and Antonino Salinas Regional Archaeological Museum, and still be back in time for dinner and drinks at Florio. For a more intimate experience, Cultural Italy also offers private tours of the city’s historic attractions, including Monreale Cathedral’s awe-inspiring mosaics. The city also makes a great base for day trips to western Sicily’s natural, cultural and historic must-sees.
When booking your trip with Cultural Italy, be sure to consider the four resorts above as you tour Sicily. If you’re visiting for two weeks or more, staying at each resort consecutively is a streamlined way to see the island’s most popular regions without skipping a beat.