There are few places in the world with views more spectacular than Taormina in Sicily. So beautiful in fact, my new husband actually had a tear in his eye as we weaved into the town. (Though maybe it was more likely due to exhaustion as we had wed the day before and were both on about three hours sleep in three days).
However . . . the Italian island was the perfect place for a mini-moon: romantic, charming, with old school resort vibes . . . and most importantly awash with delicious food.
After six weeks of no sugar, no bread, no caffeine and no life diet-wise, in order to squeeze into my wedding dress, this bride was pretty hungry. What better place to stuff oneself silly than Sicily?
Taormina is a stylish hilltop town on the east coast of the island. Under the watchful gaze of the ever moody Mount Etna, and perched over the Ionian Sea, it has been a popular spot for moneyed travellers searching for la dolce vita since the 18th century.
As we approached the town by car and slowly winded our way up the cliff the views became more magical until we arrived at our first stop of the stay: Hotel Villa Carlotta Taormina.
Elegantly balanced on the cliff top, just a short walk down from the main bustle of Taormina, Hotel Villa Carlotta is luxe. Exclusive without being snooty, it’s all ancient stone, enormous windows and secret nooks and crannies. After being greeted in the light-drenched foyer, we were ushered to the terrace to get our bearings before being shown to our room. This is a clever ploy as the view, especially late morning when the sun is waking up, is simply breath-taking. Now you’ll never want to leave.
After a perfectly chilled Cava and a spicy Bloody Mary we were taken to our quarters: The Tower Suite. Spread over two floors, and with full-length Arabic windows, a writing corner and a Carrera marble bathroom, the space was seriously smart. Nautically themed in navy and white and with an antique telescope (for any impromptu star-gazing sessions) on hand, the room was fabulous.
Hotel Villa Carlotta has 23 rooms and each one is uniquely decorated – there is absolutely nothing five-star uniform about this place. Some have private gardens and terraces and some boast glorious sea views, but all are stunning.
In the mornings our windows showed the sunrise over the sea and what a perfect start to the day. The suite also included a super king-size bed, a walk-in rainfall shower and most splendidly, an array of Studio Area Firenze gifts to take home including a scrummy perfume.
The building is full of hushed little rooms including a bar built into the Byzantine catacombs. There’s also a secluded pool, bloom-scented gardens and of course, the gorgeous terrace.
The food was sublime and bountiful. At breakfast time there was so much to choose from my little greedy hands couldn’t cope. Italians take their first meal of the day in a leisurely fashion so we spent a good few hours each morning eating, drinking excellent coffee and marvelling, yet again, at the view.
Fresh fruit, cheeses, cold meats, bacon and eggs, croissants and pies – a true feast. And then came the sweet dishes, made fresh every day. Tartes, Canolli, chocolate pies, biscotti, it was all delicious and we ate enough to keep us going until well into the day.
By night, the terrace transforms into a dreamy, candle-lit restaurant with Etna bubbling away in the background. We dined on Nebrodi meat, fresh pasta, fish and vegetables – it was all divine. The chefs created a special pudding for us as it was our honeymoon, a rich chocolate fondant concoction. All washed down with a superb Sicilian wine.
The staff were friendly and helpful without being in the way and the whole place has a glamorous, slightly old fashioned energy – the perfect pace to unwind and recharge after an emotional, whirlwind wedding day.
Villa Carlotta is ideal for couples, we wouldn’t recommend it as especially family friendly. But that’s what makes it special. It’s a chic place, for chic people. We will most definitely be back.
Hotel Villa Carlotta Taormina
Via Luigi Pirandello, 81
Prestige Holidays has a four night stay departing London Gatwick to Catania on 4th April on Easyjet with private transfers accommodation in a deluxe seaview room at Villa Carlotta from £1059 per person. (To book call 01425 480400 or see online at www.prestigeholidays.co.uk)