Monaci delle Terre Nere. In 2007, Guido Alessandro Coffa fell madly in love. The object of his devotion? A run-down forty acre 19th century estate on the slopes of Mount Etna, desperately in need of some TLC. A painstaking restoration ensued and five years later the property opened as Monaci delle Terre Nere, one of the most elaborately beautiful boutique hotels in all of Sicily.
Located halfway between Taormina and Catania, Monaci sits right in the heart of Etna, a volcanic region with a turbulent history that is currently having its moment in the sun. Etna’s up-and-coming wine scene is on the tip of every sommelier’s tongue; its gourmet cuisine gaining praise in foodie circles. For travelers heading to Sicily in search of all this newfound excitement, Monaci is at the very core. Their resounding appreciation of food and wine is apparent at every turn, from the organic gardens and ancient fruit trees sprouting up around the estate to their highly curated wine list highlighting sought-after bottles from Italy’s best local producers — many of which you can’t find back home.
There are 19 rooms and suites at Monaci delle Terre Nere, some located in the main building close to the hotel’s pool and restaurant, others scattered amongst the vineyards, olive groves, kiwi and persimmon trees. Half are decorated in a rustic style with exposed lavastone walls and oak ceiling beams (Amabile, Brilliante, Sontuoso,) others bright and modern with loft-like ceilings and outdoor jacuzzis tubs (Tannico, Fragrante.) The Complesso Suite is perhaps the most extravagant at 700 square feet with a kitchenette, king size bedroom and separate living area with floor to ceiling views of Etna. All are designed combining traditional architecture and contemporary art with a focus on nature and sustainable living.
Breakfast is a real treat, served on a terrace up in the clouds featuring a high end version of your typical Italian morning spread: fresh squeezed juices, artisanal meats and cheeses and brown hard boiled eggs, laid by their own chickens. There’s an infinity edge pool which serves as the central common area in summer, with stunning views to be had in every direction. It’s possible to order an afternoon aperitif of blood orange juice with compari and while away the hours, and you should. Though don’t get too comfortable — there is much to be discovered right in the immediate area.
Start with an excursion to Mount Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano that looms in the distance. A cable car from nearby Rifugio Sapienza takes you up to 2500 meters, then a 4 x 4 continues the rest of the way. For those craving a day at the beach, it’s only one hour south to San Lorenzo. A stop in the cute fishing village of Marzamemi should be compulsory, if not for its charming town square adorned with characteristic blue chairs then for a fantastic seafood lunch at La Cialoma on the water’s edge. In the other direction head towards Randazzo, Sicily’s “wine road,” to visit any number of excellent wineries in the red hot Etna region.
Back at the estate in the evenings, Guido and his partner Ada Calabrese make the rounds in a grand gesture, personally greeting each dinner table. They inquire about plans for the following day and seem genuinely interested in their guests’ itineraries, giving thoughtful suggestions and even sharing some of their own secret spots. It’s a very special touch that goes a long way.
Rooms start at approximately € 190.00
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Via Monaci, 95019 Zafferana Etnea
Te.+39 095 708 3638