OVERVIEW \ historical sicilian villa starting at $2900/wk
Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves outside the Sicilian fishing town of Mazara del Vallo is a castle-like villa that dates back to the 17th century. Complete with turrets and towers, this fortified farmhouse was originally built as a monastery, and later became the centre of a local wine business. Now, the ground floor of this family-owned property is an elegantly furnished holiday retreat. The eclectic interiors feature pieces collected during the owners’ extensive travels across the globe: a Chinese-style library, a canary yellow living room with Brazilian ceramics, and a Moroccan-influenced suite all tell stories of a life well-lived. There’s plenty of outside space for peaceful contemplation, too. Take a sunset walk in the pine grove, admire the Mediterranean garden, or read a book under the shade of century-old olive trees. It’s easy to while away afternoons over long, lazy lunches within the walled orangery; there’s also a palm-fringed pool and a private tennis court. And if you manage to drag yourself away from this magical place steeped in history, there’s a plethora of interesting places to see close by: choose from white sand beaches, world-famous Greek temples and perfectly preserved medieval towns.
The three rooms are individually styled, each with their own private bathroom; a dreamy blue master suite looks out onto the orange and lemon grove, as does the triple room. The latter features a four-poster bed, an antique wardrobe and a white beam ceiling. The original 17th-century arch in the Moroccan-inspired double room gives it an exotic touch; it also has an annexed TV room (which can transform into a kid’s room) and a blue-tiled bath and shower en-suite. Wonderfully comfortable beds and Santa Maria’s countryside location guarantees a good night’s sleep; only the occasional call of cicadas on summer mornings interrupts the peaceful silence.
There are plenty of beautiful green spaces on the property, including a landscaped garden featuring exotic palms, bougainvillea, jasmine and a variety of tropical plants including frangipane and hibiscus to passion fruit vines and birds of paradise
The 12m by 6m pool surrounded by palm and olive trees is a delight; and the private tennis court is perfect for working off those delicious Sicilian meals.
Pool, garden, tennis court, orange grove, wifi, laundry, kitchen
Mazara del Vallo, Sicily
Though it’s tucked away in peaceful countryside, Villa Santa Maria is just a seven-minute drive from town; and an hour’s drive from Palermo airport.
Low season (Nov-April): $2900/wk
Christmas & Easter weeks: $3175/wk
High season (May-July 15): $3300/wk
Peak season (July 15-Aug 31): $3975/wk
*Rates are for up to 6 guests, additional guests $130/person (8 people max)
*The Moroccan suite can also be rented as self-contained flat for two people, available only November-March @ $800 per week.
*rates subject to fluctuations in currency conversion.
NEED TO KNOW
The villa sleeps 8, including a sofa bed and single bed in the triple room.
It’s very family-friendly: there’s plenty of kid and baby equipment available upon request.
The owners can arrange for a cook to prepare Sicilian meals at the villa (to be booked in advance).
The property is divided in two; the ground floor of the villa is for rent, while the completely separate upstairs home is occupied by relatives of the owner who are on hand to help with check in, recommendations and assist with special requests.
There’s another five-bedroom villa next door; should you need more than three bedrooms please enquire about Villa Santa Rosalia.
Pets not allowed.
WORTH CHECKING OUT
Don’t miss the impressive Greek ruins of Selinunte and Segesta.
Full of rustic charm, the Egadi Islands are just a ferry ride away; Favignana boasts clear, Caribbean-like waters.
Adventurous hikers and nature lovers will enjoy the Zingaro nature reserve and the nearby hamlet of Scopello.
Erice is a beautiful medieval hilltop town 750m above sea level, packed with lovely churches.
Surrounded by a picturesque lagoon of saltplans, the Phoenecian island of Mozia is home to an interesting museum.
Palermo boasts a fascinating collection of architectural beauties, from the Norman cathedral to 15th century palazzi.
Mazara del Vallo itself offers a choice of good restaurants, local beaches, a lovely central square with a baroque-style cathedral, and a museum holding a 4th century bronze statue of a dancing Satyr.
There are fantastic wineries in nearby Marsala that host weekly tasting tours.
CONTACT \ BOOKING
Photography by contributor Jocelyn Mandryk and words by Clemmy Manzo.