Tucked into the foothills of Etna is Monaci delle Terre Nere. A dusky pink villa lovingly restored by owners Guido and Ada, who along with their wagging-tailed pooch Rachi are nearly always around to make guests feel happy and welcome.
Sicily itself may feel off the beaten track to many, but this little pocket surrounded and carved out of black lava really does feel a world away from the noise and chaos of nearby Catania and the daytripper’s paradise which is Taormina. Guido is passionate about the wines being created on the slopes of Etna which are now earning international acclaim. His own wine, grown on the 60-acre estate, is excellent but make time to try some of the other local wines including the superb Franchetti superbrand of Passopiscaro.
Despite the elegant and traditional façade, interiors are cool, modern and clever. Of the 27 bedrooms, we love Suite Fresco in the main villa with its views of the sea, contemporary paintings propped against the walls and vast walk-in shower. For total privacy, Suite Sontuoso is away from the main villa in the old wine-pressing house. Bare black lava walls and steps lead up to the bed on a raised platform.
Aperitivo hour is great fun, with local cheeses, olives and hams on offer in the industrial main hall or among the trees outside. Nearly all the ingredients are grown on the property, Guido is a diehard fan of 0 km and his kitchen is gaining a good reputation with some of the well-heeled locals in the area.
Monaci delle Terre Nere is unique. It feels like a jolly house party and is the perfect spot to discover this remote and remarkable part of Sicily.