Framed by Sicily’s Madonie mountains and graced with over 600 hectares of well-tended farmland, the family behind homey hideaway Susafa has been planting, pruning and harvesting for over 200 years. The estate’s been owned by the Saeli-Rizzutos since the 19th century and though its self-sustaining nature still runs true, much has changed from its goat-herding days. Today, a candlelit restaurant resides in the estate’s old granary, a bar in a former winery, and once cattle-filled stalls now house spruced-up suites. If you can just about bear to part with your sylvan-surrounded suite, then free-to-attend classes in ravioli-rolling, bread-baking, pastry-prepping, and more await your attendance.
Get this when you book through us:
A welcome fruit platter and bottle of wine, and a wine tasting or tour around the vegetable gardens (subject to availability)
11am; check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £238.55 (€275), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include a Continental buffet breakfast served in the restaurant.
There’s one room that’s been adapted for those with reduced mobility, however, the rough terrain that surrounds Susafa makes it particularly challenging for wheelchair users.
The hotel closes its doors annually from 3 November until the end of March.
At the hotel
600-hectare grounds, alfresco dining spots, free-to-attend cookery classes, charged laundry service, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: tea-making kit, free bottled water, air-conditioning, and Mediterranea Attitudine bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Rooms are similar in style, with plaster-finished walls, Sicilian-stone arches and idyllic views that make the lack of TV much less of a concern. Space-seekers, book the romantic Superior Suite; it’s the only room set on the first floor, with a four-poster bed and bright bathroom separated by a grand Crittall screen. The Deluxe Suite also impresses with an in-room sauna and private patio.
You’ll find the swimming pool shaded by lofty chestnut trees and flanked with white sunloungers.
There’s no spa as such, but in-room massages can be arranged on request.
Bring your very best apron for days spent making pasta fatta a mano.
Over-11s are welcome, but Susafa is geared more towards the adults.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find an area of Susafa that isn’t sustainable: ingredients are almost exclusively harvested from the hotel’s 600-hectare farm and the few outsourced items (wine and dairy) come straight from local suppliers. Each of the buildings have been renovated responsibly, rooms are built with natural plaster, finished with beeswax, cooled (and warmed) with solar-powered air-conditioning systems and decorated with repurposed crafts by Sicilian artisans – even the maintenance work is done by locals. We’re not quite done yet… All staff are hired from surrounding villages, 50 hectares of land was reforested by the hotel in 2005, water is collected from nearby wells and springs, single-use plastics have been banned and the hotel supports local sustainable agriculture programmes.
Nab a table by the roaring fire during the colder months, or ask to dine alfresco in the summer.
Designer Dolce to dazzle the crowd.
Since Susafa’s Il Granaio restaurant is set in the old granary, it’s only fitting that traditional Italian fare takes centre-stage. Menus are seasonal and adapted depending on what’s growing in the gardens that week (tours with the head chef will give you an idea of what to expect come evening) and dishes are served at candlelit tables set below grand vaulted ceilings. For those seeking some exclusivity, staff will happily set up sunset dinners under the carob trees.
You’ll find Il Palmento bar where walls of wine meet sandy stone interiors that once belonged to the estate’s winery. Though bottles on racks date way back, these days drinks are served at fireside tables handcarved by local Sicilian artisans.
Breakfast is served from 8am to 10.30am, lunch is 12.30pm to 2.30pm and dinner is dished up between 7pm and 9.30pm.
Susafa is set in the centre of the Sicilian countryside, 20 minutes from the small town of Polizzi Generosa and about 90 minutes inland from the centre of Palermo.
Sicily’s international airports are in Palermo and Catania, both just over a 90-minute drive from the hotel. Most European airports have direct flights to either, but those travelling from the US will need to catch a connecting flight in Rome. Return transfers can be arranged by the hotel for an additional charge.
Scenic routes run from Milan, Genoa, Naples, and Rome down the Mediterranean coast to Villa San Giovanni, where the train glides onto a ferry for the 45-minute crossing to Messina and on, to Palermo.
If you’re seeking a set of wheels, there are rental booths at the airport in Palermo and the drive to Susafa is a fairly straightforward route along the E90 and A19. If you’re arriving into Catania, it’s straight down the A19, and the hotel has a free carpark.
Worth getting out of bed for
You needn’t trek far to make the most of the Sicilian scenery, as most activities are set within Susafa’s grounds. Free-to-attend cooking lessons are spread throughout the week: roll handmade pastry on Monday, fill fresh pasta on Tuesday, start making bread come Thursday, and finish off the week with crispy cannolis on Friday – or just try a little bit of everything in Saturday classes. If you’re still (understandably) not done sampling this fine fare, ask staff to set up a picnic under the cherry trees and hand-pressed apéritifs in the wheatfields. Sicilian wine tastings are held on Thursdays, moon and star gazing guarantees grandeur and garden tours give a glimpse of the hotel’s 600-hectare estate. And if that isn’t enough, head off to the wildflower-filled Madonie Natural Park or around one of Polizzi Generosa’s 21 palatial churches. For those willing to make the 60-minute drive, the Cefalu Coast is home to some of Sicily’s best beaches.
Included in the Michelin Guide, Terrazza Costantino is worth making the 30-minute drive for; head chef Giuseppe Costantino’s kitchen cooks amped-up Sicilian classics, served with a side of Sclafani Bagni’s mountainous backdrop. In Piazza Sant'Anna, Trattoria Sant’Anna (168 Via Romana) takes things back to basics with a flavourful menu of Italian and Mediterranean favourites, served alfresco along the view-graced terrace.
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 family-run hotel in Italy and unpacked their coppola caps and Sicilian sweets, a full account of their sustainable stay will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Susafa in Sicily…
Palermo has earnt its fame courtesy of White Lotus creator Mike White, who set the second season of the show in its most scenic spots, but rural retreat Susafa shows a side to Sicily that’s only as dramatic when it comes to scenery. Set within the Madonie’s mountainous landscape, 20 minutes outside of Polizzi Generosa, this family-run farmhouse has belonged to the Saeli-Rizzuto’s for over 200 years. After their ancestors spent centuries tending to the 600 hectares of olive groves, cherry trees and wheatfields, Manfredi came in to transform former cattle stalls into the 17 sandy-stone suites you see today – some goats still graze in the grounds, but the herd is fewer and freer these days. Wine tastings, cookery classes, tomato picking, cannolis under the carob trees, and sunset-scened dinners fill dozy days, and during the summer season you might just spot Manfredi and his family arriving for their dose of Sicilian sun, a clan that’s certainly closer than those in White Lotus’s world.