Nestled in the foothills of Mount Etna, this 19th-century mansion sets the benchmark for boutique boltholes. A dusky pink main house with picturesque wrought-iron balconies and ornate window frames takes centre stage on the hotel's 16-hectare organic farm. Here, you can roam among olive trees, citrus groves and vineyards - just watch out for the chicken pen. Spacious, individually designed suites are scattered throughout the plot in a way that makes it feel like it's all your own. With sweeping views down to the sparkling Mediterranean, Monaci delle Terre Nere gives you the best of Sicily's coast and countryside at your fingertips.
Each and every room has been carefully curated to take into account the bucolic surroundings. The romance of the old house is combined with contemporary-cool design features; old beams, exposed lava-stone walls and grand fireplaces meet quirky furniture, glass sinks and modern light fittings. Double doors open out onto winding pathways which may either lead towards the old house, the secluded pool or alfresco restaurant.
What's for breakfast?
A rustic breakfast buffet offers up all the farm's bounty with fruits, cheeses, cured meats, eggs and fresh pastries, tarts and cakes made that morning using whatever is in season. It's all organic, of course. Pick up a newspaper and take your time over it in the hotel's leafy garden - just mind the wasps.
How about lunch and dinner?
The hotel restaurant, Locanda Nerello, sprawls over the terrace in the summer months and fills an understatedly grand dining room come winter. The menu follows the resort's 'eco-bio' identity, with much being made of offerings from the vegetable patch and herb garden. Expect seasonal, locally sourced produce alongside pasta and risottos, with a vegan-vegetarian menu on request. Wash it down with some excellent Etna wines, cultivated practically beneath your feet.
Is there a bar?
Of course. Friendly staff at the poolside bar will keep you topped up throughout the day, while there's a moodily lit wine room (complete with spirits bar) in the main house where you can sip in style. You'll also find a well-stocked minibar in your own bedroom, which (gloriously) has regular-sized wine bottles rather than the dinky ones you've probably come to expect.
This is a place to unwind among nature, so while all rooms have free wi-fi, there is no TV or telephone. You'll find plenty else to entertain, however, with wine and olive-oil tastings, cooking classes, bike tours, an outdoor pool, reading room and solarium (where you can book yourself in for a massage).
Things you should know
These guys have plans for expansion, with several more suites being built throughout winter - though they promise to retain the luxurious charm of a small hotel. We also recommend renting a car so you can make the most of the surrounding area.
Within a short walk you can find
As it's in the hills, strictly speaking there are no 'destinations' in the immediate area. But it's lovely to wander through the charming village surroundings. The idyllic seaside town of Taormina is also just a short drive away - pack your swimming costume and a slip dress to throw on the end of the day because you'll want to check out the local restaurants.