The Embrace of a Sicilian Family
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 TripadvisorRead more
Lovely hotel; beautiful view and decor
I stayed at Villa Ducale over the summer, but have been intending to get around to writing my review as this hotel was abosolutely beautiful and the photos just cannot do the view justice! The hotel staff were incredibly helpful with activities and restaurant recommendations in Taormina, and the morning breakfast was wonderful and apparently all made on site! If you’re going to Taormina, Villa Ducale may be a bit more expensive than some of the other options; but it was definitely worth it!
Superb, the hotel has incredible views
Superb, the hotel has incredible views
My husband and I stayed here for a few days of rest and relaxation following a fascinating but tiring few weeks touring Turkey. We couldn’t have chosen a better place. Perched high up, the hotel has incredible views over the coast and Mt Etna from their stunning terrace, where guests can have breakfast, dinner, predinners and afternoon teas, and to our delight, our large, immaculate room had its own balcony where we could sit and enjoy the same marvellous outlook. This alone would be more than enough to recommend it, but this hotel also comes with wonderful staff. All of them are polite, welcoming and helpful, but I feel I must especially compliment Paolo, Alessia, Antonio and Santina who are each tremendous assets to this hotel. Paolo, Alessia and Antonio are there to check you in, give helpful advice on where to go, what to do and how to do it, and ensure your stay goes smoothly in every way. Alessia also makes a fabulous Bellini! Santina creates the wonderful food at the hotel, from beautifully served afternoon teas, platters of antipasti in the afternoons, dinner menus, even the table covered each day with homemade cakes, all of it delicious. One afternoon we lost a shopping bag down in the town and I was particularly upset as among other things it contained my trip diary which, after travelling for some weeks, was of very special value to me. Antonio did his best to trace our footsteps for us, but with no sign of the bag. The very next morning, Alessia came to me carrying the bag, with all its contents intact, after a relative of hers had found it in their shop and actually tracked us down from my references to the hotel in my trip diary! I was so overwhelmed by the kindness and honesty this showed that I could hardly speak. And one of the nicest things about all this was the way Alessia and Paolo shared our relief and delight. The hotel provides a regular shuttle bus to the town and back, but there are also local buses, so it’s never a problem to pop down for some great lunches and shopping. The Sicilian ceramics available in Taormina are excellent, and there are many examples displayed throughout the hotel, in particular the stunning ceramic-topped tables out on the terrace. We didn’t hire a car during our stay, and took advantage of the hotel’s private car service which took us to and from Catania Airport, with polite and punctual drivers. The only detail which I feel we should point out is that as this hotel has such a commanding position high above Taormina and the coast, guests need to be prepared for steps. However, don ‘t fret about managing your luggage – there’s a fine, strapping young man (I’m embarrassed to say I can’t recall his name) who takes charge of it for guests, and always with a beaming smile. As I’ve said, this is a marvellous hotel, with a truly outstanding staff. Thank you again, Paolo, Alessia, Santina and Antonio, for making our stay so special – we’ve told so many people about our stay, and recommended the hotel to so many, your ears must surely be burning!
3rd time lucky at Villa Ducale – again!
3rd time lucky
2010 was a good year for us as we stayed at the Villa Ducale. Mind you, so were 2008 and 2009. As third time visitors, I don’t need to explain that we love this place. Last year I effused about the introduction of the evening drinks and canapés. This year they have extended the use of the balcony to include some relaxation chairs and a sofa. Even better! This year was also our first experience of the rooms on the other side. Here, there was a fabulous double thrill of being able to see the early morning sun over the Bay of Messina before popping down to the unearthly luxury of the buffet breakfast overlooking the Bay of Taormina. Actually the weather was not flattering and I was grateful that we had already seen much of the sleeping Etna on previous visits as it was too shy to make an appearance for a couple of days. This put more pressure on this unique hotel to provide better alternatives for us to enjoy. As ever the team shone through. Paulo, Alisia, Lucca, Antonio, Francesca, Santina, Dylan and all the others we have yet to befriend are an extraordinary resource that makes this hotel what it is. Every day it is a pleasure to discuss options, have arrangements made and outcomes shared. As an example, we were late returning from an island tour (coach problem) and didn’t arrive back in Taormina until 12.15am. It was pouring with rain (some of the worst rain they have seen there in a considerable time). As the tour party left the coach clutching their umbrellas and raincoats, guess who the only taxi was waiting for? And guess who had his taxi fare refunded without question from the coach company? When you’re a guest of the HVD, you have connections in the right places, capisce? I do, however, feel the hotel has suffered this year from its own reputation. More guests staying there were presumptuous of the excellent service and expectant of undue and unnecessary attention. As a regular, I’d ask that people go there to be made to feel special, not if they already think that they are. The hotel promotes a social attitude amongst its guests and those that enjoy it most are those that are prepared to share this wonderful experience with others. If you want big hotel pomp and ceremony, go to a big multi-national and save this beautiful place for those who can appreciate it! I’m looking forward to another visit in 2011 and I have some special plans for 2012 – subject to the approval and cooperation of la mia famiglia Siciliana
Superb Location, excellent staff, fantastic hotel = perfect holiday
Superb location and excellent staff
My wife and I stayed at the Villa Ducale over the weekend of 14 November. We booked a taxi transfer from from Catania Airport, and felt really welcomed and relaxed as our luggage was whisked away and we were offered welcome drinks. Antonio then gave us a local map, local bus service and hotel shuttle bus info, he pinpointed all the necessary and always said he would happy to assist with any othe queries. He then took us to our suite, which was spacious, comfortable and very well decorated as it had all the original features with modern amenities. We stayed and had dinner that at the verandah and the food and service was top notch. We really enjoyed our relaxing and enjoyable stay here & the staff provide the best customer care in the world ! I needed a haircut and directions to a local barber shop were recommended – the hair cut was execellent. On the last day of our stay, we requested Paolo to arrange a stopover at Catania for shopping and then be dropped off to the airport. He did this and even got a discount on the price! What more can I say that has not been menioned here..GRAZIE. Hope to see you again.
Very charming small hotel
Very charming small hotel
A home away from home. We spent one week at the small luxury boutique Taormina hotel Villa Ducale with our young daughter in october 2010. We especially appreciated the warm welcome upon our arrival and the genuinely very helpful staff. The view from the breakfast and dining room is spectacular! The hotel is perfect for a romantic get away or a quiet , relaxing holiday. Our room was vast, charming and always perfectly clean. Dining at the hotel offered an unparalleled experience of the regions delights prepared with a touch of home cooking, coupled with a fine selection of sicilan wines. The hotel offers panoramic views with the convenience of a regular shuttle bus service. Paolo and Alessia will welcome you as family. Don`t forget to try the pistachio cake!!!! We couldnt resist the temptation and ended up brining one home, curtosy of our welcoming hosts.
Charming, Cozy, Beautiful
Charming, cozy, beautiful
We arrived at Villa Ducale on a rainy day after forging up the winding road from Taormina. We were met at the door by Paulo and Antonio who quickly assessed the situation and said, “Please sit down. You need a glass of wine and some snacks.” Antonio sat down with us and explained the lay of the town and the transportation options. The hotel has a shuttle that will take you to the main walking street many times a day. He also pointed out all the points of interest. Our room was large and beautiful with every detail carefully designed to make your stay enjoyable. Breakfast on the terrace included fresh yogurt, fruits, cheese, eggs, and of course many pastries. They also have a wonderful wine and snack served at 6:30 pm each evening. On our second night we took advantage of their “home cooking” We ordered our favorite of the fresh fishes from the mornings market and exactly what we wished to eat and their wonderful cook made us a simple but utterly delicious custom meal. Villa Ducale is just a superb hotel where you are made to feel quite at home
Beautiful hotel in fabulous setting
Beautiful hotel in fabulous setting
We spent 3 nights at this wonderful small hotel. From the moment we arrived we were treated royally. Our room was lovely with very nice and plentiful amenities and a wonderful view of both Mt. Etna and the water. The staff were attentive and extremely helpful. A complimentary shuttle service took us into town and back so we didn’t have to deal with the narrow streets or find parking. The breakfast was delicious and the nightly cocktail hour was a bonus. We found the dinner, which had to be reserved a day in advance, to be the best in Sicily!
A True Gem! A Guest from Waterloo
A true gem!
Our recent 2 week trip to southern Italy and Sicily was highlighted by our 2 night stay in this wonderful small hotel in Taromina. Although a little pricey compared to our other accommodations, it was truly worth it!! From the moment you arrive and are greeted with a welcome drink and nibblys, the staff are incredibly friendly and helpful. The rooms were immaculate and upgrading to a seaview room was worth every penny. The views are stunning!! The hotel is quietly located up the hill (which provide the magnificent views of Mount Etna and the beautiful bay below) but they have a convenient shuttle service to and from the city centre if you don’t want to take the long trek down the steps!