It's not hard to find a room with a view in Taormina because every corner of the Sicilian seaside town is photogenic. With narrow cobbled streets, soft light and a pastel palette, even if you don't score a room that's sea-facing, you'll be just as happy with one that's wall-facing - and draped in purple bougainvillea.
You'd be happier still at Villa Ducale. From its vantage point on a hill in uptown Taormina, the hotel opens out onto a sweeping panorama of Mount Etna, the azure waters of the Ionian Sea and a hillside scattered with terracotta-tiled houses and prickly pear cactuses. So much more than a room with a view, Villa Ducale is first and foremost a view - that just happens to have 19 rooms.
This family-run boutique is owned by Rosaria and Andrea Quartucci, whose mother owned and lived in the property until 25 years ago. The villa has been lovingly restored and maintains a sense of old-world charm with traditional service and classic furnishings. The rooms are dotted about the property on different levels but guests are invited to spend time on the sun deck and in the dining and living rooms (a complimentary tea service from 5-6PM and an antipasti buffet from 7-8PM makes the offer difficult to refuse). Out of all the communal spaces,
Villa Ducale's open-air dining room steals the show. The food is exceptional and the space seems made for long lunches and even longer dinners. You're a little bit out the main town - but the 25-minute walk into Taormina is the least you can do towards working off all that pasta and cannoli.
With a cream palette and dark wood furnishing, Villa Ducale's 19 rooms are classic and elegant. Bathrooms are spacious and equipped with enormous showers. Suites comes with a living area and back onto private terraces with a jacuzzi.
What's for breakfast?
Breakfast is a lesson in Sicilian cooking. Begin with thick slices of orange and grapefruit so sweet you'll feel like you've stocked up on Vitamin C for the rest of year. Follow with your pick from a savoury buffet with local cheese, aubergine parmigiana, stuffed tomatoes and more. To finish, a table groans under cakes and pastries (starting with chocolate torte and ending in cannoli - Sicilian pastry filled with ricotta and dusted with pistachios). There's a selection of cereals too but why bother?
How about lunch and dinner?
The food at Villa Ducale is more than worth staying in for. At lunchtime, the hotel serves a pared down version of a seasonal three-course menu, but one pasta dish is probably enough - the spaghetti with Italian speck red chicory and Nero D'Avola DOC wine is delicious.
The dinner menu is divided into antipasti, a pasta course and then fish and meat mains. The caserecce pasta with sardines, fennel, pine nuts and sultanas makes a nice intro before pistachio crusted lamb chops with artichokes and caper berries. The white fish timbale with aubergine, ricotta, dried tomatoes and orange zest is also excellent.
Is there a bar?
Yes - it's extremely well stocked and reasonable too. Between 7 and 8PM there's a complimentary antipasti buffet (including bruschetta, local cheese and hams) to accompany your aperitif.
Rooftop terrace, complimentary tea from 5-6PM, complimentary antipasti between 6-7PM, free wifi, concierge, shuttle bus service to and from Taormina. The staff are extremely friendly and will help craft your itinerary - don't miss a day spent exploring Mount Etna with Alternativetna and the beautiful Fishetti winery on the volcano's slopes.
Things you should know
Book your return shuttle bus from town. Villa Ducale has a sister property called Villa Carlotta which is located just steps away from the buzzy centre of Taormina and a short walk from Isola Bella beach.
Within a short walk you can find…
Pizzeria Al Saraceno - for high-end modern Italian food to the backdrop of Etna. Castelmola - a tiny village floating 1,800ft above sea level with panoramic views over mountain, sea and sky. Via Leonardo Da Vinci, 60, Taormina ME, Italy Villa Ducale is a member of Hip Hotels