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Living Your White Lotus Dreams in Sicily

As the second season of HBO’s White Lotus kicked off, I was in the midst of a well-timed trip to Sicily. We jokingly told our tour guides to get ready for the flood of Americans that would be coming to Sicily to live out their White Lotus dreams.


For this trip, we gathered a group and booked the Don Venerando Villa in Carruba, offered by Thinking Traveller. It was my most enjoyable and relaxing vacation in recent memory - and I got Covid on the first day of the trip.


The villa came with a chef who prepared breakfast every morning, lunches when we wanted them at the house, and three dinners on request. The pasta alla norma is something I still dream about even though I thought nothing could top the pastas in Rome and I don’t even like eggplant. Also, bresaola salad. A simple dish consisting of fresh and spicy arugula, bresaola, ricotta salata (new favorite cheese, available at Whole Foods, you're welcome), and a simple vinaigrette.


Pasta alla norma!

Because we booked through Thinking Traveller, we used them to book all of our excursions except one. We did two day trips to Mt. Etna - one to visit a winery and have lunch and one to tour the volcano and visit another Etna winery for lunch. I’m a huge fan of Etna Rossos and highly recommend both of the wineries we visited.




The owners of Don Venerando also own the boutique hotel Donna Carmela, just a short drive down the road from the villa. We had a lovely tasting menu dinner there that included 3 dessert courses, but the standout of the trip was Zash. Our tasting menu included a bread course, veal tartare, gnocchi with nduja, cod with béarnaise, tuna belly, AND a beef filet. Turns out multiple course desserts are a thing in Sicily; Zash came with two, the last loosely translating to “final cuddles.” Zash is in my top five meals of all time and I would go back tomorrow if I could.


Day Trips in Eastern Sicily


Taormina


For this trip, we hired a driver to drop us off/pick us up. The shopping in Taormina is great and if you can spend more time here, I would. Make sure to tour the Greek Theater and have a cocktail on the stunning patio of the Belmond Hotel Timeo (it's right next to the entrance for the Greek Theater).


Stunning views at the Greek Theater in Taormina.

Siracusa


We used Tours Italy to book this day trip. We had used this company before for a Tuscany tour on the way from Florence to Rome. Both were wonderful - highly recommend them.


They picked us up at the villa and arranged guides for the archeological sites of Siracusa, a walking tour of Siracusa, and a quick tour of Noto before returning us to the villa. The Ear of Dionysius cave at the historical site was just featured in the new Indiana Jones movie, if White Lotus wasn’t enough to convince you to head to Sicily.


Caves at the Siracusa archeological park.

Catania


For Catania, we also did a half-day car hire and wandered around to shop and eat. We chose to have lunch at MM!! near the fish market and stopped for afternoon pastries at Spinella.


Villa Life: A Sample Itinerary


Should you decide to do a week villa rental on the eastern side of Sicily, here’s how we organized our trip.


Saturday

-Arrive and transfer to villa

-Request small food hamper + wine delivery to villa

-Chef prepared welcome dinner


Sunday

-Chef prepared breakfast

-Enjoy pool or rest

-Chef prepared light lunch

-Car pickup at 2pm for trip to Taormina

-Touring, shopping, and dinner in Taormina

-10pm return to villa


Monday

-Chef prepared breakfast

-Late morning pickup for winery tour

-Lunch at winery

-5pm return to villa

-Order pizza to villa


Tuesday

-Chef prepared breakfast

-9:00am pickup for 4x4 volcano and winery excursion (lunch included)

-5:00pm return to villa

-Dinner at Donna Carmela - to be picked up/dropped off by hotel car


Wednesday

-Chef prepared breakfast

-9:30am pickup for day trip to Syracuse

-Lunch in Syracuse

-5:30 return to villa

-Dinner at Zash


Thursday

-Relaxation day at villa - all meals prepared by chef


Friday

-Chef prepared breakfast

-10am pickup for Catania day trip

-Lunch in Catania

-Final dinner at villa


Saturday

-Breakfast and depart for airport

Before you leave, learn the legend of these statues.

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