Sicily, Italy

Monaci delle Terre Nere

Rates from (ex tax)$128.56

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR120.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Beamed boltholes and sleek suites

Setting

Fertile foothills, sea-facing slopes

Monaci delle Terre Nere – a romantic, rustic former monastery – offers a dramatic viewpoint for this photogenic island, sandwiched between Mount Etna and the Mediterranean coast. Guests can scramble over lava-sculpted landscapes worthy of sci-fi, amble through the 40-acre farm tasting vine-fresh fruits, or simply settle into a Phillippe Starck chair and tuck into authentic Sicilian home cooking.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A glass of local Etna wine on arrival.

Facilities

Photos Monaci delle Terre Nere facilities

Need to know

Rooms

21 rooms, including eight suites.

Check–Out

11am, but later can be arranged, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $128.56 (€109), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR109.09), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Room rates include a buffet breakfast.

Also

Have the hotel arrange an hour-long wine tasting for €35 a person, or go all out with a cooking course (€95 a person) taught by the hotel's chef; you'll prepare and eat two courses, sip on coffee, and enjoy wine chosen by the hotel's sommelier.

At the hotel

A 40-acre farm, library and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: air conditioning, minibar and artisanal olive-oil bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Suite Amabile is ridiculously romantic, with 45sq m to play in, exposed rustic brickwork, sloping beams, a fireplace, a freestanding Jacuzzi bath by the bed and shuttered windows from which you can spy Etna’s peak. Seclusion and style are found in Dependance Queen Fiore, a sprawling suite set in an eco-friendly building in the hotel's grounds. We love its mod four-poster, from which you can spy the sea through large windows. Double Superior Frutatto’s floor-to-ceiling windows with garden views; fresco-style, powder blue walls; and exposed wooden beams make it homely and authentic enough to make you feel like a bona fide paisan.

Poolside

The hotel has an unheated, outdoor black lava-stone pool with an infinity edge, overlooking the Sicilian countryside,

Packing tips

Volcanic rock murders inappropriate footwear, so be sure to bring hiking boots with a strong constitution; and clear a bottle-shaped space in your luggage for a bottle of Uranaci wine, a bold blend of Nerello Mascalase and grenache grapes, produced onsite.

Also

Yoga classes, and wine and olive-oil tasting (must be booked a day in advance) are offered onsite.

Pet‐friendly

Dogs – a maximum of two a room – are welcome by arrangement for €35 each a night (assuming resident hound, Rachi, doesn’t object). Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Sicily.

Children

Welcome, but amusements are scant at the villa (just a small playground). The Suite Fresco is best suited to families; it can fit a baby cot (free), an extra child's bed for children up to nine years old (€35 a night), or an adult bed (€50 a night).

Eco‐friendly

Impressively so; half of the hotel’s energy is from renewable sources. Owner Guido’s ‘zero-kilometre’ food philosophy favours home-grown and locally sourced ingredients (guests dine on produce from the 40-acre farm on site); and recycled and reclaimed furnishings, solar panels and chemical-free paints and plaster are just some of the villa’s clever eco elements.

Food and Drink

Photos Monaci delle Terre Nere food and drink

Top Table

In summer, sit close to the terrace edge for uninterrupted, volcano and coast views; and in chillier months cosy up to the wood-burning fire.

Dress Code

Informal Sicilian whites.

Hotel restaurant

Breakfast is a buffet of fruit, home-baked cakes and local meats and cheeses. The hotel's chef champions slow food; the set menu is determined by the daily harvest, but sample dishes include fillet of black pork from Nebrodi with apple and walnuts, and home-made ravioli stuffed with veal and sage. Most of the fruit and vegetables are gathered on site too.

Hotel bar

Grab a glass of Sicilian wine at Hall bar, situated in the villa's former cellar, or join Guido and Ada at the 6.30pm 'happy hour' for Etnian wines and cocktails – the Monaci Spritz is a refreshing concoction with lemon, Aperol, Campari, sparkling wine and soda. The hotel's sommelier hosts Etnian wine tastings, on request (€60 a person for two hours, €90 a person for three hours). For abstainers, the hotel's fragrant herbal tea selection includes home-made infusions such as bergamot and Sicilian lemon, green tea with rose muscat, and a few secretive heirloom blends.

Last orders

The restaurant's open from 12.30pm–11pm. Dinner runs from 7.30pm.

Room service

Dishes from the hotel's 'slow food' menu can be ordered round the clock, but there's a brief respite from 7.30pm–9pm.

Location

Photos Monaci delle Terre Nere location
Address
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Via Pietralunga
Zafferana Etnea (CT)
95019
Zafferana Etnea (CT)
Italy

Planes

Catania is the closest international airport (www.catania-airport.com), 39km from the villa (about a 40-minute drive). You can fly direct to Catania from London Gatwick and Munich airports; and destinations in central Italy such as Rome, Florence and Milan. Comiso is also close by, a 90-minute drive from the hotel.

Trains

The closest train station is Catania Ognina in Catania, situated 23km from the villa or Taormina-Giardini (both are a half-hour drive away). Each station runs a regular service to Messina, where you can catch the ferry to the mainland, and Sicilian destinations such as Syracuse (www.trenitalia.com).

Automobiles

The villa’s remote setting may make it a place of near-poetic seclusion, but it’s a nightmare to reach without a car. Unless you want to spend a small fortune on taxis, be sure to bring or hire your own wheels. There are several rental companies at Catania airport.

Other

Messina, where you can catch the ferry to Italy, is a 79km drive away (about an hour). The ferry travels to Villa San Giovanni roughly every 20 minutes (www.carontetourist.it). From the port you can explore Reggio Calabria and travel further into Italy.

Worth getting out of bed for

The hotel's Sicilian chef is happy to share his gastronomic know-how in cookery lessons on site; can be arranged in the morning, on request. Each guest will prepare a two-course lunch served in the restaurant afterwards (€95 a person, including two glasses of wine and coffee). Weekly live, open-air jazz sessions (in the reception in winter) add a swing to proceedings. Mount Etna has a tendency to blow its top from time to time, adding a delightful sense of drama to a trek up the sides (just remember to duck and cover); but it’s a must-climb experience. A cable car to the summit is 20km from the hotel (about an hour’s drive). In the winter months, Etna offers spectacular skiing – on snow, not lava flumes (+39 09 582 1111). If Etna’s a touch too volatile for your tastes, Smith’s day-trip tip is tremendous Taormina – a living history lesson, with Corinthian, Byzantine and Baroque architecture and a remarkable Greek amphitheatre. Tired of ruins? Hit the beach or venture out to Forza D'Agro, a hillside village where scenes from The Godfather were filmed.

Local restaurants

If you must deviate from the hotel’s lauded cooking, nearby seaside towns Catania and Santa Maria la Scala offer seafood so fresh it might flip from your plate. A 19-minute drive away on Via Catania is All’Angolo, a teeny trattoria with five tables, an outdoor patio, more than 100 grappas to choose from (be sure to travel there in a taxi) and a killer linguine al tartufo (+39 09 5780 6988). La Grotta, in Santa Maria la Scala, serves its catch of the day in a cave hollowed out of a harbor-facing cliff – one of the area’s more novel eateries (+39 09 576 4853); and In Un Angolo di Mondo (+39 09 587 7724) in Acireale (a 25-minute drive from the hotel), has authentic stone-baked pizzas stacked with locally sourced toppings. On Via Piave, in San Giovanni la Punta (a 26-minute drive from the hotel), Al Giardino di Bacco serves simple Sicilian cuisine in flower-bedecked surroundings; and they’re happy to adapt meals for fussy eaters (+39 09 5751 2727).

Local bars

Sicilia's Café de Mar in Acitrezza (+39 09 527 6129) is a stylish spot on the shore, with a bright white terrace overlooking the sea and cosy sofas scattered between palms. There's a lengthy list of by-the-glass wines, and excellent cheap food. Keep it simple, and order the tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, or an ice cream sundae.

Reviews

Photos Monaci delle Terre Nere reviews
Tom Vaughan

Anonymous review

She was crying and blubbing and all we could do was high five. It had given us a fright when she jumped us on an evening stroll. She’d looked so sane earlier; the chatty South African lady on the table beside us at dinner. Now, she was borderline delirious. She beckoned us to follow her deeper into the orchard. ‘Come look,’ she sobbed. ‘Come look. Please.’ You wouldn’t necessarily follow on Wandsworth Common but here, in Sicily, in the grounds of a boutique hotel, on holiday… What’s the worst-case scenario? She’s smashed her Kindle Fire?

When we reached a clearing, it was so obvious: they were tears of delight, not despair. And the reason rose above us on a near horizon – the gurgling, fuming spectre of Etna, slopes lit by glowing Irn-Bru-coloured lava streams, its plume dominating the sapphire horizon. She let out a whimper, saying ‘Isn’t it incree-dible?’ and then scampered off to find some more guests to startle.

As we stood there transfixed in Etna’s foothills, between the spewing orange volcano and a pink supermoon bouncing off Mediterranean waters, Mrs Smith was so excited I thought she might blow her own top and shower us with rainbow. She’d spent the last day in a lava lather – desperate to see the molten rock flows – and now we’d finally got it. What else could we do in the sheer romance of the moment? We slung each other a high five.

Zoom back 30 hours and we’re cruising downhill from the picturesque town of Zafferana Etnea, en route to Monaci Delle Terre Nere, the scent of fig and jasmine wafting through the windows. ‘Is Etna active?’ asks Mrs Smith, a question inspired as much by Dante’s Inferno as geological interest. ‘Yup – but it hardly ever erupts. Like once every 10 years.’ I bluff. As we wind the narrow lanes, we cast each other accusatory looks at the sound of faint guttural rumblings.

Before us the gates of Monaci swing open – the baroque terracotta of the 19th-century palazzo (and former monastery) visible between the pine trees. The welcome party is upon us and we’re on a tour of the one-time vineyard – the 200-year-old stone vats for grape stomping, the black lava-rock stonework, the spectacular terrace, the grand communal rooms with their bursts of modern art (Olivier Mourao’s Picasso-esque paintings and Fabio Novembre’s cheeky, nude-shaped Him & Her chair are stand-out favourites), and our simple, elegant room; no TV, no phone, just a king-size bed and an ancient door that could halt a rhino charge.

Then, there’s the pool; set amid cleared, grass-covered olive terraces with a view stretching five miles to the sea. And five miles behind us, points Nerwan – a Sri Lankan representative among the delightful staff with their universally flawless English – a smoking Mount Etna. How often does it erupt like that? asks Mrs Smith. ‘Most years,’ he answers. I nod meekly in agreement.

With that, we’re ensconced on loungers. Before we know it, a couple of Aperol spritzes sit beside us, only the distant rumblings of Etna punctuating the sheer tranquillity. A yoga class comes and goes on the grassy terrace, but we slowly dissolve into our loungers. Tomorrow, we’re going up that volcano, enthuses Mrs Smith, who has acquired Etna-mania.

Afternoon rolls into aperitifs, accompanied by olives and honey from the hotel’s land, local cheeses and nuts. And aperitifs into dinner on the terrace. Vegetables, herbs and olives all come from the hotel’s grounds, and chef plays it simple with his bounty – parmigiano with home-grown aubergines and local cheese, a creamy risotto with nutty borlotti beans, swordfish with garlicky green beans and an almond semifreddo. Wines are taken seriously and we plump for a mineral-packed carricante, a bianco superiore.

‘Burgundy, Champagne, Etna – the three best wine producing areas.’ Proprietor Guido has glided out of the shadows, a hushed, assured presence who answers questions enigmatically (You own this amazing place? ‘I feel a place like this owns you.’ Your style and decoration is beautiful. ‘You must listen to what a house like this wants.’ It’s also environmentally friendly, down to the chemical-free paint.) On the subject of his great passion, wine, he is more definitive; different lava flows, different soil types, it makes Etna unique. ‘Come for the wine tasting tomorrow.’ We have loved to, but we’re going up Etna itself. ‘Ah, then you will see for yourself,’ and he is off seamlessly to the next table, startling them as he appears into the candlelight.

Morning comes and breakfast on the shady pine terraces is serene and delicious – white local sheep’s cheese, local sausage, home-grown fruits, house-baked bread, Etna’s famous honey – then back to the lounger to soak up more sun before the hotel-arranged geologist comes to pick us up for our private tour up Etna. It’s too late to take the cable car to the very top, so still no lava.

Then back to a pool dip, more Aperol spritz aperitifs and dinner again on the terrace. We’ve been up Etna, we explain to the smiley South African on the table beside us. ‘Isn’t it incree-dible?’ It erupted the other night and we got to see the lava.’ Mrs Smith’s ears prick up. ‘Maybe it will tonight. It’s beau-tiful. What a hotel! What a location! I’ve never seen anything like it! You have one night to see it, I hope you’re lucky…’

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Monaci delle Terre Nere’s Guestbook below.

We loved

The extremely lush and beautiful surroundings, the sounds of farm-life, the views of Mount Etna, the attentiveness and kindness of all the staff and the amazing food at the restaurant! We had some of the best culinary experiences of our trip to Sicily, while trying out different meals at Monaci. The dining room itself is also very beautiful, as are the main building's bar area, open fire, etc. We organised a private tour of Mount Etna – which was incredible! A definite must-do (but quite weather-dependent). We found Taormina to be quite beautiful, but it was filled with tourists and felt quite hectic. Two places you could use as an oasis were the Belmond Hotel near the Greek Theatre and the San Domenico Palace, both were gorgeous (and the food at San Domenico was amazing). We also visited Syracuse and Notto. Beautiful cities (once you reach the historic centres...) and some good places for food, coffee or a nice canoli :)

Don’t expect

A vibrant nightlife :) Also, at the time we were there, the pool wasn't really usable – and it's also quite a lot smaller than it looks in the pictures. But you're not far from the sea, if you want to swim.

Rating

Stayed on 23 Sep 2017

We loved

Beautiful location and surroundings, a great place to base yourself to see Sicily. Good breakfast and pool.

Don’t expect

Rooms were a bit sparse, and not cleaned overly thoroughly. Did not quite live up to our expectations considering the price.

Rating

Stayed on 14 Jul 2017

We loved

The food at the restaurant is delicious and set in the beautiful main building.

Don’t expect

To visit anywhere in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. It is isolated (part of the attraction) and a car is essential.

Rating

Stayed on 8 Jul 2017

We loved

The views and outlook are beautiful. The privacy of being separated from the main house.

Rating

Stayed on 11 Jun 2017

We loved

The room was amazing; it was very quiet and romantic. You must try their Sicilian Negroni. Lunch: Santa Maria La Scala. Wonderful location, view, food, wine and service. Consider hiking down and back up.

Don’t expect

Privacy. The Dependence Suite was fantastic, but you are surrounded by others in very close proximity so we had the blinds drawn quite often. I came to get away from others, but have them yelling at their kids or suntanning or practicing yoga three feet from our front door.

Rating

Stayed on 27 May 2017

We loved

We simply loved this place. Absolutely wonderful. Sitting on the back of Mount Etna looking out to the sea in the distance. The food was amazing and the wines were totally unexpected. Who knew Sicily had such amazing wine? Everybody knows the Tuscans but the Etna wines rock! Go Etna! Guido, the owner, was totally passionate about the hotel and the organic local concept. All the vegetables are grown on the estate. He even has his own wine. Simply amazing from start to finish. I can still feel the lazy hazy day of lying on the terrace, beautiful sunshine with nothing to do but think of lunch and the long post luncheon alfresco snooze. We never wanted to leave. We left the kids, but it would have been equally great for them too. Lazy perfect days!

Don’t expect

Diet. The food is just too good!

Rating

Stayed on 5 May 2017

We loved

The place, the food, the room, the service – a perfect vacation!

Rating

Stayed on 25 Apr 2017

We loved

The villa suites, the attentive and kind service, the surroundings, the views, the tranquility.

Don’t expect

Not to have a car.

Rating

Stayed on 20 Apr 2017

We loved

Beautiful surroundings. Fantastic rooms (and bathrooms). Lovely food. Very friendly and helpful staff in the bar. Great location for visiting Mt Etna.

Rating

Stayed on 26 Mar 2017

We loved

The hotel room was amazing and very private, views were unbelievable and from our room. Own personal fire in room was lovely at night. Staff are amazing and so helpful with everything, even suggesting and booking restaurants away from the hotel was a problem for them. On site restaurant was brilliant food and well worth a visit. We went to a local fish restaurant which the hotel suggested which was really rustic and non touristy. Etna day trip was special.

Don’t expect

To be able to pop down the road for anything, you need a car to explore but being remote and away from everything made the hotel feel special.

Rating

Stayed on 19 Mar 2017

We loved

The interior; the location; the service; the wine choice; and the food was Michelin star-ripe.

Don’t expect

Any disappointment.

Rating

Stayed on 5 Feb 2017

We loved

The accomodation, food, wine tasting and tour of vineyard in local winery in adjacent town.

Don’t expect

...english breakfast tea

Rating

Stayed on 29 Sep 2016

We loved

The setting, food and staff

Don’t expect

To pop into a local trattoria - everything is a 30 minute drive away which can be tricky at night

Rating

Stayed on 29 Aug 2016

We loved

Our room (Cristallino is away from the main house and has a beautiful view and private garden), the uninterrupted view of Mt Etna wherever you walked, the lush surroundings of lavendar, olives and grapevines after the dry interior of Sicily, the breakfasts under the pines. Taormina is a dream. Ask reception to reserve an umbrella at the incredible Belmondo Villa Sant'Andrea beach. You get a discount. Alcantara Gorge for a swim in an icy cold river. Beautiful setting the road to Randazzo past all the Etna vineyards. Have lunch at San Giorgio e il drago, set in an old Benedictine convent. one of the best meals we had in Sicily

Don’t expect

To "get" this place when you first arrive. The people at reception were trying too hard and made it feel quite formal when the place itself is not formal. A casual dinner. The setting is beautiful but the service is formal and prices high. A GPS is highly recommended especially if you venture out at night. Room service or pampering. No phones or TV in rooms. If you get a suite away from the main house, be prepared to walk!

Rating

Stayed on 29 Jul 2016

We loved

Location and staff. Nono, Syracuse, Taormina - fantastic for wandering around

Don’t expect

Fancy frills or city luxury

Rating

Stayed on 2 Jul 2016

We loved

Room size. Peace. Food. Friendly helpful staff. Breakfast under the trees. A car is a must . 10 mins drive to nearest town is Zafferana which has a range of OK restaurants. Further afield there are so many excellent restaurants. Marricriu in Rispoto is superb for fish. Visit Ortigia in Syracuse.

Don’t expect

Trattoria style food. Its more haute cuisine. No Wine bargins. Wine list is very extensive but prices are aggressively marked up.

Rating

Stayed on 4 Jun 2016

We loved

Our room #10 Minerale was amazing, unique and large. We enjoyed sitting out by the pool. The breakfast spread was very nice. 8/10

Don’t expect

Much choice for poolside lunch. They had 3 choices on the menu and only two were available. The restaurant was pricey and although the ingredients are sourced from their gardens, the meal wasn't amazing.

Rating

Stayed on 17 May 2016

We loved

Personal service, peace, solitude, beautiful surroundings, home comfort and freshly prepared, organic produce that would grace the table of a king! Panoramic views from the balcony of room 5. I would say that the best views are from this room. Also, lovely open fire for the colder evenings. The pizza cafe at Zafferana near by offeres authentic pizza, club sandwich, beer very reasonably. Unable to remember the name, but the sign has a mexican hat! 

Don’t expect

Kids club and fitness classes by the pool!

Rating

Stayed on 11 Apr 2016

We loved

The buildings, staff and setting 10/10

Don’t expect

We went out of season so not too busy for night life if needed

Rating

Stayed on 11 Mar 2016