Authentic Italy - For Wine Lovers - Green Vacations - Historical Residence - Seaside Hotel - Romantic Lodgings
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the people of northern Europe -- who had always been beer drinkers -- gradually acquired a taste for the wine that was being imported from the southern Mediterranean. To keep the vintages from spoiling on long ocean voyages that extended even to the Americas, Spanish enologists began adding an extra portion of alcohol to their mature wines. These came to be known as "fortified wines," and the most popular type came from Màlaga. An English merchant and wine connoisseur named John Woodhouse decided to cash in on this immensely successful trade, so he sailed across the sea to the Spanish kingdom's western province of Sicily, landing in Marsala in 1773. The newcomer purchased vast lands and planted his grapes, then spent a couple decades experimenting. By the time Admiral Nelson's fleet sailed home from its glorious victory at the Battle of the Nile, Woodhouse was selling a product that was good enough to be proclaimed "worthy of the table of any gentleman." Nelson's sailors helped spread the word about this new "Marsala wine" -- and thus was the 18th-century marketing equivalent of Chianti born. Woodhouse, and several other Brits, went on to amass fortunes which were astronomical by Sicilian standards, so instead of returning to Jolly Old England, they built spectacular villas and palaces for themselves and lived fairy tale lives which continued for generations. Eventually, Woodhouse's heirs sold their properties to an even wealthier Sicilian named Vincenzo Florio, whose wine warehouse and cellars were no less than a kilometer long! Of all the land acquired by Vincenzo, perhaps the most stunning was a hillside just inland from Marsala. Standing on this promontory, blessed by cooling breezes, one could see the Baroque town, the ancient salt flats with their windmills and small mountains of gleaming salt, even the Egadi archipelago. The simple whitewashed buildings where the grapes were processed and aged still stand today. They have been totally rebuilt and beautifully renovated, and now house this unique winery, country inn and restaurant.
To get here, you will drive through miles and miles of healthy vineyards, past the humble ancestral homes of local peasants and the extravagant estates of foreign tycoons. After you park, you'll stroll through the ancient archway into the immaculate stone coutryard, where tables and chairs are shaded by big market umbrellas and the walls are enlivened by colorful bougainvillea vines. Just outside the walls is the beautiful new swimming pool. Inside you'll find several large sitting rooms, cool in summer and warm in winter, as well as a cozy wine bar and an elegant restaurant where you can taste Sicilian specialties accompanied by the winery's award-winning red and white dinner wines. Of course you'll want to finish off your meal with a taste of Marsala! And by the way, if you think Marsala is limited to those syrupy liqueurs you buy at the local supermarket, think again! In 1986, Marsala was granted its own DOC status and the ensuing strict regulations have resulted in several variations of delictible fortified wine.
After dinner, you'll retreat to your spacious room. In keeping with local custom, furnishings are minimal, but include pretty hand-painted chairs and side tables, as well as brocade or silk upholstery. The stone floors are heated, the ceilings boast ageold wooden beams, and almost all the rooms have a view of the vineyards or the sea or both. All ground-floor rooms have private bathrooms with stall shower; a few steps up on the first floor there are rooms with stall showers or bathtubs. Four rooms on the ground floor and one room on the first floor are big enough for three adults; also there is one room on each floor big enough for two adults and two children (the latter share a double sleep sofa). The suite has two rooms plus a balcony, and its bedroom, like almost all the others on the first floor, offers a wonderful sea view from its picture window. All the rooms at the Winery have air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, wall safe big enough for a laptop, complimentary DSL Internet access, mini-bar, and private bathroom with hair dryer and magnifying mirror. Downstairs in the lobby there is an Internet point, mountain bikes are available, and in the summer a free shuttle goes to the beach.Should you be wondering what there is to see and do in this part of Sicily, which is less known (hence, less crowded!) than the eastern half, let us give you a few ideas. Only minutes from the Winery is the fascinating Salt Museum, which occupies a 500-year-old windmill exactly like those invented by Archimedes. You can climb all over the interior and learn how it works, then see the mounds of pure sea salt that are protected from the winter weather by terracotta roof tiles. Be sure to buy some -- it is as different from our own table salt as Sicilian Marsala is from the supermarket variety! Only a few hundred yards away is Marsala, a real treasure trove of history. Where else in the world can you see an intact ship from the Punic Wars (answer: nowhere!), peer down at the ruins of a Carthaginian city side-by-side with what's left of a Roman city, walk across the water to a Phoenician island, stroll along streets paved with polished marble and lined with elaborate Baroque churches, inside one of which is a priceless collection of 16th-century Flemish tapestries? And that's just one town! A few miles up the coast is Erice, Sicily's only true medieval hilltown, with its spectacular castle. About an hour away are Segesta (to the north) and Selinunte (to the south), to our mind the finest Greek temples in Sicily. And if that's still not enough for you, drive down the coast about 30 miles to Mazara del Vallo, home of the Italy's largest fishing fleet and, consequently, its finest seafood restaurants. Some of these are located in the historical center, which is called the Casbah because it still bears the mark of the Arab conquerors who originally built it. Yes, it may be less illustrious than Taormina, but this part of Sicily is no less fascinating. It is, indeed, a true mecca for the sophisticated traveler.
For this property:
A child 0-8 years old stays free in its parents' double room.
Dinner at the restaurant costs 25 Euro/person plus beverages (children under 8 years old pay only based on what they eat).
We definitely urge you to take a tour of the historic winery. Tours and tastings are available daily and must be requested when you arrive.
Click here for information about getting to Sicily.
Please note that you need a car to stay here.It is not possible to guarantee Internet access at any property, because the property does not generate the service, it merely provides access from a server. If the server experiences any kind of problem at all, the property regrets it cannot be responsible for any inconvenience caused by subsequent lack of service.