In an area notoriously bereft of good hotels, the Foresteria is like a bright light twinkling on the southern Sicilian coastline.
Opened in 2009 by the Planeta family – internationally acclaimed makers of some of the island’s best known and best loved wines – the Foresteria is a 14-bedroom guest house with service to rival if not surpass that of the larger five-star hotels on the island.
Within easy reach of the archaeological treasures of Agrigento, Selinunte and Segesta, and just an hour from Palermo, the property is ideally located for both serious sightseers and those wanting to experience the Sicilian countryside at a more relaxed pace.
Ingeniously designed to make the most of the island’s dazzling light, the hotel consists mainly of glass and steel and sits overlooking a vast vineyard of Fiano grapes. The 14 pretty, en suite bedrooms are decorated with brightly coloured rugs, antiques and local ceramic tiles. Each spacious room opens onto its own private terrace with views across the vines down to the pristine beaches and crystal clear waters of Porto Palo, just five kilometres away and a proud holder of a blue flag. Once upon a time a foresteria was the name given to a guest cottage of any large aristocratic family home. This Foresteria continues to concentrate on two of the noble elements of Sicilian culture: superb food and wine.
The heart of the hotel is the state-of-the-art kitchen which spills out into the garden and around the heavenly infinity pool with flowerbeds overflowing with fragrant Mediterranean herbs brought to life by the sun and the sea breeze. Head chef Angelo Pumilia was put through his paces by the now elderly Planeta sisters before he was allowed to put his gentle yet contemporary spin on the family’s favourite recipes. Cooking classes are an absolute delight at the Foresteria.
Set off at dawn to buy the fish as it comes off the boats at nearby Sciacca, a piece of pure Sicilian theatre, or visit one of the estate’s wineries in the area including the 16th-century country house on the banks of a lake where the Planeta cousins grew up, an enchanting place for an afternoon’s wine tasting and picnic under the shaded trees.