PHOTOGRAPHY BY: SVEVA MARCANGELI
My mother and I pulled up to Barone di Villagrande in our four-door automatic Peugeot not knowing what to expect. Greeted by a white husky and a friendly staff, we were brought to our room “Junior Suite Conza” and told that dinner would be ready in a few. Our staff attendant, Alfonso, told us it was too bad we had not come for lunch, since Domenico Dolce from Dolce Gabbana had just wined and dined there a couple of hours ago..!
FYI – In order to dine at Barone di Villagrande, you need to make a reservation a day in advance so they can buy fresh ingredients for your meal.
My mother and I made our way to the courtyard to enjoy what must have one of the best meals of my life, and one of the many to come in the next few days.
Barone di Villagrande is one of the oldest wineries in Sicily nestled among forests and historic vineyards, 700 metres above sea level on Etna’s slopes. The vineyards, that make up over 95% of the estate, slope down towards the sea into a natural amphitheatre.
We woke up the next morning looking forward to our next meal. For breakfast, we had their specialty Yogurt of Bufala cheese, a light and delightful yogurt, accompanied by flat peaches, homemade croissants and cinnamon cakes.
The resort is comprised of only four rooms, making it a very intimate and exclusive resort, and accommodates a maximum of 12 guests. We spent our morning at their infinity pool, overlooking the Mediterranean sea and amphitheathre of vineyards, reading our books and enjoying the view.
After lunch, we enjoyed a wine tour with one of the staff members who showed us the 200 year old wine barrels, and walked us through the production process. After spending the afternoon in Taormina, we returned to Villagrande were we enjoyed an exquisite wine tasting accompanied and paired with a delightful dinner. Unlike many restaurants that pair their wines based on their meals, Villagrande, being a winery at its core, did the exact opposite – making sure to curate each meal so that it pairs perfectly with their wine selection.
Out of all five wines, my favorite was the rare limited-edition Malvasia wine, that came paired with dessert during every meal. A passito wine made from sun-dried grapes on the island of Salina, where Villagrande owns to acres of land, there are only 2,000 bottles of this wine made every couple of years. At $100 each, the wine is only produced if the grapes are of high quality, if not, the winery will wait another year before continuing its production. During my stay, I had the pleasure of enjoying the 2013 Malvasia di Lipari. Unfortunately, this wine cannot be purchased in any locations other than at Villagrande due to its limited quantities.
Almost every meal contained a very light fresh ricotta cheese (even I was surprised at how light it felt in my stomach!) from the cannolis, to the croissants, pastas and yogurts. And lets not talk about the pistachios that were mixed with ricotta to create a mouth watering pistachio dessert.
The staff was one of the friendliest, most educated and hospitable I had ever experienced (as is almost everyone in Sicily!) and the Chef had skills that were better than a 5-star michelin starred chef. Every meal was a true epicurean delight, utilizing fresh ingredients that were purchased every morning from the local produce sellers of the area of Milo. With rooms starting at $200 a night and dinner costing approximately $45 per person, including the wine pairings, Barone di Villagrande is a must visit place for anyone in Sicily. Whether it is for a lunch next to a Sheikh who decides to fly his helicopter over for a quick meal or Domenico Dolce, or for an overnight stay in a luxury resort, Barone di Villagrande will make you experience what true genuine Sicilian hospitality, food, wine and culture is all about.
Get insider travel tips and luxury fashion and lifestyle content on the world’s most exceptional destinations and products directly to your inbox. Don’t miss out–sign up for Svadore on the right hand side of this page.
Follow Svadore on Instagram: @Svadore
Follow Svadore on Pinterest: Svadore