Set in a restored 19th-century masseria, Dimora delle Balze is a stone masterpiece of local flavour and history. The 11-room hotel is situated around three courtyards, including a saltwater pool, a lounge and a breakfast terrace with views of the Unesco-protected Val di Noto. Each room is named after a piece of art, film, literature or music by a Sicilian artist, and all are decorated in the local style. Many have terraces overlooking the 60-acre estate’s gardens and citrus groves. If you’ve got a car, make the 35-minute drive across the valley to Noto’s historic centre, where bucolic charm gives way to Baroque splendour.
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A bottle of wine and a welcome aperitif with local appetizers; GoldSmiths and SilverSmiths staying more than one night get dinner for two with a bottle of Sicilian wine
Each room is named for a work of Sicilian art, with a unique story and design. Many have restored frescoes and most have terraces or gardens. Clandestini, named for works by Giovanni Iudice, sits atop the tower, with prime valley views and a small balcony. L'Annunciata, named for a painting by Antonello da Messina, is the most romantic space, with a crystal chandelier and a spacious terrace.
Open 10am to 7pm, the saltwater pool is flanked by sunloungers and comfortable overstuffed lounge chairs.
Bordered by a path of rosemary, lavender and jasmine, Senses Spa uses organic Sisley products for full-body treatments, massages and facials in two natural treatment rooms. Chromotherapy sessions are taken with views of the valley in the patio's heated plunge pool. If you'd rather work up a sweat a different way, the fitness centre has Technogym equipment and a weight area.
Bring Sicilian books: the hotel’s focus on local artists and writers is inspiring.
The common areas are wheelchair-accessible, and there is one dedicated room for wheelchair access, with wider passages and a roll-in shower.
Little Smiths are welcome – extra beds (€80 a night for children four-and-up, free for under-fours), baby cots can be added to some rooms and babysitting is €20 an hour; the serene setting and lack of activities make this best as an adults-only escape.
Set beneath a pergola in the Limonaia area overlooking verdant fields, the pool bar and lounge is open throughout the day, serving modern Sicilian dishes, with many ingredients coming straight from the property’s organic gardens for cold salads and seasonal specials.
The laidback bar has a fantastic selection of Sicilian and Italian wines, and staff mix classic cocktails, including refreshing spritzes.
The lounge is open from 10am to 11pm each day; breakfast is served from 7.30am to 10.30am each morning. The bar pours till midnight.
You're welcome to order from the lounge menu during opening hours.
Dimora delle Balze is located in southern Sicily, near Syracuse.
Catania Fontanarossa is about an hour’s drive from the hotel, with direct flights from London, and connections from far-flung cities through Rome and Milan. Smith24 can arrange flight bookings and hotel transfers.
Syracuse is the nearest train station, a 30-minute drive from the hotel. The station connects the region to cities throughout Sicily, with further-flung service to Milan, Rome and Venice.
A car is recommended for anyone who’d like to explore the island. The hotel has valet parking on-site.
Worth getting out of bed for
Settle in by the saltwater pool to relax and enjoy the orange-scented breezes and Sicilian sun. The fragrant orchard and well-restored courtyards are worth exploring as well. The hotel is nicely situated to visit the Baroque buildings of Noto and the Greek and Roman ruins of Syracuse, both of which earn Unesco status. Stroll Corso Vittorio Emanuele in Noto for postcard-worthy architecture, most of which dates to the early 1700s, after a massive earthquake levelled the town. Get an early start for Syracuse to see the locals stock up on local tomatoes and seafood at the morning market on Ortigia (daily, except Sunday), then explore the Greek Theatre, the Roman Amphitheatre and the many ornate churches and basilicas that stud the town. The beaches along the Ionian coast are known as the island’s best, with warm, tranquil waters and soft sands. Fontane Bianche is prime among options, with snack bars for those looking to spend the day. An hour south of the hotel, the Vendicari Nature Reserve is a secluded spot for hiking and swimming. Migratory birds, including storks, flamingos and cranes love it too, and make it a year-round paradise for spotting colourful birds. About two hours north of the hotel, Mount Etna is Europe's largest active volcano, and one of Sicily's most prominent landmarks. EtnAroundoffers jeep tours and hikes to the summit, or to the most recent eruption sites.
The hotel’s blissfully bucolic location means that there are no restaurants in the immediate vicinity. A 20-minute drive west of the hotel, Ristorante Andrea, in Palazzolo Acreide, prepares Italian food using ingredients from the chef's organic garden, including local pistachios and lemons, carob cream and fresh-caught fish. After a day at the beach, head for dinner in Avola at Domus, feet from the Ionian Coast. The restaurant utilises seafood from the nearby waters for crudo, risotto, pasta and grilled seafood platters. Finish with lemon gelato. If heading to Noto, plan to eat at Manna, a chic restaurant focused on Mediterranean dishes with exceptional Sicilian wine.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Italian manor house hotel in Val di Noto and unpacked their sun hats and sandals, a full account of their country break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Dimora delle Balze in Sicily…
A serene, sunbleached estate tucked into 27 hectares of gardens and fragrant orchards, Dimora delle Balze is the kind of place that lets guests make believe they are Sicilian natives. Set near Noto, on the south-eastern part of the island, the restored 19th-century masseria is a tribute to Sicilian history and culture. Each of the 11 rooms is named for a Sicilian work of art by a native Sicilian, and is decorated to show off the building’s heritage, with locally built wood furniture, local pottery, and bright accents, including Moroccan tiles and velvet armchairs. Many of the rooms have terraces that are ideal for enjoying jasmine-fragranced breezes and views of the Unesco-protected valley. Meals utilise ingredients from the site gardens, including local fruit for breakfast with house pastries. Laze away the fortifying meal by the saltwater pool, within view of citrus trees best taken in from overstuffed lounge chairs. It’s enough to turn any visitor Sicilian.