Green, blue and palm trees, a watchtower on the beach. There is more to Sicily than the Valley of the Temples: it is a land of dukes, poets and artists
Agrigento offers more than the Valley of the Temples, the ruins of the ancient city of Akragas and the Scala dei Turchi. The River Verdura flows through the cities of Sciacca and Ribera for more than 50 km. You can drive to the Verdura Resort Sciacca, crossing a land of dukes – primarily the jewelry designer adored by Chanel, Fulco Santostefano della Cerda, Duke of Verdura and a cousin of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa.
The hotel feels like a mirage painted in shades of green and blue, hidden among palm trees. A watchtower on the beach. Open-air saltwater swimming pools, caponata and lemon sorbet. Sicily. It is managed by Rocco Forte Hotels (which has 12 five-star properties across Europe) and this year the Verdura Resort is celebrating its tenth anniversary.
It was designed by architect Flavio Albanese; the interiors were designed by Olga Polizzi, with a total of 168 guest rooms, 29 suites and 6 villas scattered around 230 hectares of grounds planted with olive trees and 1.8 km of private coastline. The designer chose to integrate locally-made furniture and hand crafted items to create a mood that is predominantly Sicilian – antique majolica ware sourced on the island and lemon trees marking the entrance.
The local heritage is generously illustrated through the use of materials like stone, wood, reeds and sand, giving the rooms the sensation of good taste without being overly fussy – the art of simple luxury. The suites are near the beach – with views over the Mediterranean. The villas are more isolated and were designed for maximum privacy. They can accommodate up to nine people and have their own private pool, outdoor terraces, spacious and well-lit bathrooms, and an atrium. The resort has three golf courses designed by Kyle Philips, a 60-metre swimming pool, six tennis courts and a Spa. Four thousand square meters, including several pavilions and a central outdoor court.
The highlights are the heated pools, the Spa area – and the guest rooms or suites hidden in the grounds, in front of the lawn and the park with access to the sea – this is the only weakness because the beach does not live up to the magnificent surroundings. As a result, the Verdura Resort may be considered more suitable for a winter sojourn rather than summer.
The resort’s restaurants and Sicilian fare – the Amare, Liolà and Zagara. The name of the Amare restaurant is a play on words, emphasizing the love of food grown and sourced in the Mediterranean. The Amare serves only the best local products: fresh fish and seafood and its specialty – ‘crudo’ raw fish served up for generations in Sicilian fishing villages. Fillets with extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits and a pinch of salt. Busiate pasta with shrimps and pistachio nuts. Sicilian sausage with bay leaves. The Liolà had fun dressing up as a typical Sicilian trattoria and the end result looks quite credible.
The restaurant is also a pizzeria and has an open-air terrace overlooking the cliffs. It offers an exclusively Sicilian menu: Sicilian caponata, arancini and panelle, pasta alla norma, Sicilian pizza with tomatoes, breadcrumbs, pecorino cheese and basil. The Zagara was designed by chef Fulvio Pierangelini who decided to focus his menu on Mediterranean products: olive oil, oranges, lemons, freshly-caught fish, tomatoes etc, accompanied by a selection of Sicilian wines.
Text Ornella Fusco
Ss 115, Sciacca