This old palace is in historic Noto, a small town in Sicily’s south-east.
Fly to Catania and you’ll be an hour away by car. Both British Airways (www.ba.com) and EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) fly direct from London Gatwick; Alitalia (www.alitalia.com) has routes via Milan and Air Malta (www.airmalta.com) via Munich. London Stansted, Brussels Charleroi and Rome Ciampino all fly direct to Comiso, which is a 90-minute drive from the hotel.
The closest train station is half an hour away by car in Syracuse, the nearest big town up the coast towards Catania. Trains connecting both towns take around an hour and 20 minutes (www.trenitalia.it).
From Catania, the hotel’s an hour south; take the A18 road until the Noto exit. Take the second exit at the first roundabout, the first exit at the second and the second exit at the third. Take the country road Via Napoli, and once you've passed the public gardens and the Polizia Municipale, turn into Via Camillo Benso Cavour – from there, the villa is at number 53. From Syracuse, allow half an hour for the drive. To reach Modica, to the west, use the SS115, picking up the SP17 and SP28. Parking is free for guests of the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Golden Noto has several Baroque buildings to explore and a whole lot of gargoyles to gawp at. The Palazzo Villadorata has been meticulously restored – live the life of Sicilian nobility by wandering within its walls (+39 0931 835005). Climb up to the bell tower of Chiesa di San Carlo al Corso for a wide-ranging view over Noto’s rooftops. Nine kilometres south of the city, you’ll find excavations of an ancient Syracusan colony, Eloro, and there are golden beaches on either side of the ruin. Further afield, venture to Modica, or up the coast to Syracuse. The Vendicari Nature Reserve is a wild coastline of sheltered coves, a sandy beach and three marshes – birdwatchers will delight.
For modern Sicilian cuisine with a touch of North African flair, head to Viva Il Bistrot. Just outside of the city centre, you’ll find their sister restaurant W Villadorata, set in the citrus and almond groves of Country House Villadorata. Dishes on both the à la carte and tasting menus are cooked or smoked over a wood-fire, using any branches culled from the land.
Caffé Sicilia on Vittorio Emanuele has been dishing up some of the city’s tastiest gelati and cannoli since 1892.
Shop for trendy goods then stick around for a cocktail at Anche Gli Angeli on Via Arnaldo da Brescia, a concept store with a bar (+39 0931 576023).