Where’s Claire: Cooking in Sicily – Part 2

Mimi ON Oct 01, 2009 AT 4:59 pm

Villa Ducale

Villa Ducale

By Claire Tamara Yates

Where to Stay
There are some beautiful boutique hotels in Taormina and we found the best to be either Villa Carlotta for convenience and design, or Villa Ducale for romance and quirkiness.

Villa Ducale has an enviable position overlooking Taormina and the bay, offering the best views from any hotel we’d ever stayed in – especially over breakfast or those pre-dinner snacks.  Individually designed rooms are filled with Sicilian painted ceramics and wrought iron, with private terraces overlooking Etna’s majestic cone and the sea. The owners have recreated the atmosphere of a private villa and staff are genuinely warm and welcoming. With only 17-rooms, it’s a great place to feel secluded – just pack some flat shoes for the long walk from town (although there are frequent hotel shuttles).

Villa Carlotta

Villa Carlotta

For a hotel with Sicilian charm combined with interior magazine design features, the Villa Carlotta is ideal. This 19th Century tower retains many quirky features, but has fitted some glamorous additions – an entire wall in the bar has been excavated to expose Byzantine catacombs, an ancient chapel sits alongside the pretty bijou pool and the top of the tower has been turned into a lovely library where candles and Moroccan lanterns are lit in the evening and you can sink into huge sofas with a book and a glass of wine. Bedrooms feel luxurious with beautiful bedheads, antique furniture and contemporary textiles perfectly co-ordinated in the 23 bedrooms.

Have a ceramic lesson with Marco Monforte

Have a ceramic lesson with Marco Monforte

Where to Eat and Drink
We recommend the side streets off Corso Umberto I rather than on the street itself – try a traditional Sicilian pizza at Vecchia Taormina. Or definitely return to Licchio’s for dinner – specialties include risotto of parmesan and zucchini flowers, and beef wrapped around tuma cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and topped with breadcrumbs. For stylish drinking, try Morgana Bar, Scesa Morgana 4 (www.morganabar.it) and dance the night away at open air club La Giara, Vico La Floresta 1 (www.lagiara-taormina.com).

What else to do?
Take the cable-car to the nearby beaches – try Lido Stockholm, or shop til you drop in the upmarket boutiques on Corso Umberto I. If you’re feeling active, panoramic views await those who stroll uphill to the village of Castelmola. Or if you want to learn yet another new skill, how about a ceramic lesson? Marco Monforte runs lessons following traditional techniques in his Kerameion workshop www.ceramicheditaormina.com.

Getting There
Air Malta
flies up to four times a week from London Gatwick to Catania (a 30 minute drive) – return fares start from £99 return including taxes and charges. Visit www.airmalta.com or call 09061030012.
The Facts

Cooking lesson – Licchio’s Restaurant, Via Constantino Patricio 110 (0942 625327) – From €50 per person for a 4 hour session + lunch and wine included (depending on group size)

Hotel Villa Ducale – Double room with breakfast from €129-269

Hotel Villa Carlotta – Double room with breakfast from €139–309, suites from €400

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