We typically enjoy staying in beautiful hotels when we travel, but we decided to try something a little different on our recent trip to Sicily. Today, there are so many options to rent apartments and homes, and as we scoured the internet for the perfect place to stay, we continued to come back to the amazing villas managed by the UK-based The Thinking Traveller.
Not only did we find a beautiful villa at the base of Mount Etna and just steps from the Ionian Sea (this one here), but they also provided cooking, daily housekeeping, transportation from the airport, advice on local experiences, and they even shopped for food and drinks before our arrival. It’s so much more than a rental property company, and they made the experience stress free. We honestly felt like we were staying at a private 5-star hotel where the rooms were freshly cleaned every day, breakfast was served on the patio each morning, and our dishes from dinner from the night before magically disappeared. If you needed anything, their local concierge was just a text or phone call away.
In order to travel to Sicily from San Francisco, we had a very long day of flying, so we were a bit concerned about what we’d be eating for dinner on the night we arrived. We ordered a hamper of basic cooking ingredients (including mozzarella, pasta, fruit, and tomatoes) and made a special request for a bottle of Aperol, Prosecco, gin, and tonic water (for unwinding after a full 24 hours of travel). When we arrived, everything for the perfect post-flight apertivo had already been been set up on the patio. The owners of the villa actually own one of the largest Mediterranean plant nurseries in Europe, so naturally their gardens were incredible, and it was perfect to pick fresh herbs from the garden and make a big pot of pasta with our favorite go-to tomato sauce that we learned from Mamma Agata (recipe here).
We spent each morning with a lavish breakfast of Sicilian pastries and savory items like arancini (risotto balls filled with meats and cheeses) and the days laying by the breathtaking pool or napping under the pergola with an Aperol Spritz. We took a few day trips with our friend Ceri and her dog Alfio, both to the Etna wine country, the Catania fish market, and the tranquil sparkling beach near Taormina – Isola Bella. We even brought back a fun summer cocktail recipe made with gin and fennel from the beach (get the recipe here).
On our final evening, the cooks made us a lovely traditional Sicilian dinner made up of typical Sicilian dishes. After coming home from a long day at the beach, walking into the villa to the smell of a home-cooked feast was the best! We loved the experience so much, that we can’t wait for our next trip. Keep checking back for more stories and recipes from our trip coming soon! Sign up here so you won’t miss it.