Melissa's Travels

Melissa’s Sicily Cheat Sheet

Refer to our Sicily Destination Report for a full list of where to stay, eat and shop and what to do on the island. Below are tips from my most recent visit on places that one shouldn’t miss. Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning a trip to Sicily. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Where To Stay

Palermo:Villa Igiea

is the historic grande dame that was once a family estate and retains much of the grand drama and period public rooms from the Belle Epoque, but now has wonderfully modern guest rooms. There is no better location and don’t miss drinks in the bar with vaulted ceilings, breakfast on the sea-facing terrace or the boutique, which carries a mix of vintage and local fashions.

Noto: The lovely new resort San Corrado di Noto is where many of the cast of White Lotus stayed while filming on the island. All of the rooms have gorgeous, contemporary interiors, but the most private are the stand-alone villas. Don’t miss the brick-oven pizzas by the pool or the treasures in the gift shop, which is curated by the owner’s wife who has collected special finds from throughout Italy.


 The big news on the island this summer is the refreshing of Le Calette, just outside the town of Cefalu. The five-star hotel, which is set on a beautiful bay, has been elevated by the involvement of the owner’s daughter. As my Italian friend Alessandro Grassi says, “"Cefalù is the perfect homebase for a long leisure season throughout the year, due to its strategic position, between the Sea and the Parco delle Madonie, and you can have beautiful walks and hikes and visit historical villages like Castelbuono (where the Dolce & Gabbana’s partner bakery is) or Pollina, also called “La terrazza sul Mare” for the view over the Thyrrenian sea and the Aeolian Islands." Don’t miss Cefalu’s duomo or the Museum Mandralisca, which Grassi says, “has one of most beautiful “non-religious” portraits—Ritratto d’Uomo—by Antonello da Messina, that many critics consider the male version of La Gioconda,” aka the Mona Lisa.

Where To Eat

Near Noto

: For an incredible traditional Sicilian meal head to the tiny town of Buccheri and follow a narrow alley to Osteria Locale. The simple osteria is owned by two brothers who source most of their ingredients daily from their own farm. The menu changes daily, but the focus is on slow, true flavors. Save room for the cannolis prepared in front of you.

Where To Shop


Many Italian and international luxury brands line the narrow streets of Taormina, including new arrivals like La DoubleJ, the colorful silk fashion line from J. J. Martin. But for truly special, only-in-Sicily finds, be sure to head to the jewelry store Le Colonne, a family-owned, multi-generational shop on Corso Umberto that sells exquisite pieces made with traditional goldsmith techniques (my favorites are the ones that mix iron and gold).

What Not To Miss


Sicilian winemaking is among the most innovative, especially as it relates to biodynamic wines. Two vineyards that offer amazing tasting experiences and sell fantastic wines are Donnafugata and Baglio Occhipinti, both in Vittoria.

Art and Design:

Sicily has long attracted art and design fanatics like French interiors star Jacques Garcia, whose spectacular Villa Elena can be rented, but two amazing collectors have recently opened parts of their private palazzos to visitors and neither should be missed. In Noto, French film director Jean-Louis Remilleux restored the amazing 18th-century Palazzo Castelluccio and has filled many of its 100 rooms with his period furniture and decorative objects. While in Palermo, the monumental Palazzo Butera has been restored by a pair of art lovers, Francesca Agnelli and Massimo Valsecchi, who have transformed the ground-floor space into a gallery and classrooms for visiting students and filled the upper floors, many of which feature incredible frescoes and stucco work, with their extraordinary collection of art and antiques. For art lovers, the Palazzo Butera is worth a trip to Palermo.

For more, see our full Sicily destination guide.

Contact Indagare or your Trip Designer to learn more about planning a trip to Sicily. Our team can match you with the itineraries, accommodations, reservations and guides that are right for you.

Published onMay 21, 2023

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