First, a little background on us: My husband and I are middle-aged, active, curious, reasonably well traveled and maintain more than a passing interest in the Mediterranean. In fact, we recently enjoyed our seventh trip to Sicily. Sicily is uniquely and deeply compelling on many levels – well worth more than a single visit – but seven trips there might nonetheless be considered a bit much, especially for a pair of Anglos with not a drop Sicilian blood between us.
Our primary reason for so many repeat visits: Hotel Villa Ducale.
We’ve stayed in many lovely hotels over the years, but Villa Ducale is the only one in the world that continually beckons us back over and over again. On our first trip to Sicily 11 years ago, we spent a few nights at Villa Ducale when it had been open for only a few years. It was already an unforgettable gem – the setting, the accommodations, the exceptional hospitality – so we returned two years later. And so on. As a matter of fact, we just got back from another week there, and somehow the experience manages to be more magical every time.
A lot has occurred at Villa Ducale in the past 11 years. Numerous annual winter renovations (this year’s newly redone lobby is perfectly lovely), the opening of a splendid new adjacent wing of suites, a (delicious) new full dinner menu, some (wonderful) new personnel who embody the warmth and spirit of the place as if they were literally born there, and too many other sweet enhancements to list. Between visits, at home in Chicago, we’ve kept abreast of the debut of Villa Ducale’s new urbane sister property, the in-town Hotel Villa Carlotta, have read an ever-increasing number of reviews regarding both hotels, and applauded the numerous prestigious awards.
Though progress is a fact of life and business, often when I hear about expansion of an intimate family affair, I become concerned that whatever heart and artful originality begat the enterprise in the first place will be lost to a soulless corporate approach. But in this case, I have never for one second worried that our favorite little hotel in the world would become denatured in the name of progress, for one thing has remained constant: the Quartucci family.
The proprietors, Andrea and Rosaria Quartucci, are people of character and heart. Their priorities live in their very fiber, and as talented as they are as business people, expansion will not come with any sacrifice to what made Villa Ducale such a heart-stopper from the get-go: their personal, loving touch. There’s long-term emotional investment here, for Villa Ducale is an ancestral family home; it and its spirit will never stop being nurtured. The addition of Villa Carlotta was born of a desire to offer a respectful rebirth to a formerly prominent Taormina property which had seen better days (and is now a beauty).
The Quartuccis are hands on. They don’t merely own two hotels, they run them (with the aforementioned stellar team of similarly warm-hearted individuals who just happen to be top-shelf hospitality professionals), and both properties are a reflection of people who embrace life and live artfully and gratefully and for whom nothing comes more naturally than sharing with others. What they have created is an extension of an exuberant, huge-hearted Sicilian family, and the scores of rave reviews found here, regardless of the details, are, in essence, a testimony to the warmth of this family’s embrace.
Review by gailpearc on Tripadvisor