La Bianca Scogliera, Scala Dei Turchi
Though illegal building has left its mark on Agrigento’s countryside, this part of Sicily, with its Greek temples and rolling vineyards, is outstandingly beautiful. The beaches too are visually spectacular, thanks to white marlstone cliffs, the so-called Turkish steps, that give this place its name. La Bianca Scogliera sits right on top of the cliffs. It is an old-fashioned B&B and feels very much like staying in someone’s home, in a good way. Signora Graziella offers home-cooked dinners using fresh ingredients from the garden, and they even produce their own wine to wash it down.
• Contrada Scavuzzo 143A, +39 09 2281 4554, realmonte-bb.it/index.html, B&B doubles from €50
Hotel Acqua Marina, Donnalucata
Perched on a crag with a bird’s eye view over Donnalucata’s beautiful beach, Hotel Acqua Marina in Ragusa province is a friendly locally run hotel with an excellent fish restaurant and seaviews to match. It also has a private stretch of grass just above the sand where you can sunbathe, and an upstairs sundeck where breakfast is served. For those wanting a stroll there’s an open air market at the far end of the beach where farmers sell their vegetables from the back of battered little three-wheeled trucks. For anyone wanting a bit more culture, the hotel is within a short drive of Scicli, a stunning baroque town further inland.
• Viale della Repubblica 9, +39 09 3293 7922, acqua-marina.com. B&B doubles from €90
Hotel Santa Lucia, Capo D’Orlando
Though it has one of the best beaches on this stretch of coastline, and is well-connected by road and motorway to the rest of the island, Capo D’Orlando is not instantly charming. But this bustling, built-up seaside town does have the seldom-explored Nebrodi mountains on its doorstep which contain a gorgeous swathe of national park where eagles soar and some of Sicily’s best salami can be found. Hotel Santa Lucia isn’t on the beachfront, but it does have decent rooms, a leafy backyard and affordable rates.
• Via Consolare Antica 166, +39 09 4191 8227, santalucia-hotel.net. B&B doubles from €75
Il Borghetta, Marzamemi
Long a gorgeous but crumbling backwater, this little fishing village now boasts excellent fish restaurants and straightforward B&Bs, one of the best being the newly refurbished Il Borghetta, which is just a stone’s throw from the water’s edge. Magnificent views of the long sandy beaches can be enjoyed from its roof terrace, perhaps with a glass of wine from the nearby Pachino vineyards. Two sisters run the accommodation, while across the road is Al Boccone where their affiliates the Infantino brothers cook great food and also rent rooms. Marzamemi is within easy reach of the wetlands of the Vendicari nature reserve, where wild turtles hatch in the sand and flamingos stop off on their migratory journeys to and from Africa.
• Via San Giardino 17, +39 34 8515 1580, ilborghettobb.it. B&B doubles from €60
Albergo Esperia, Milazzo
Milazzo in Messina province is probably best known as a point of departure for ferries heading to the Aeolian Islands, but it’s well worth exploring in its own right. Albergo Esperia is the only hotel located right in front of Ponente beach, where on a clear day you can see Mount Etna smoking away on the horizon to the left, and the islands of Lipari and Vulcano looming across the sea in front. Behind the hotel, where the friendly owners have built some lovely rental apartments, cliffs rear up topped by Milazzo’s castle, which will open to visitors this summer. It’s all very beautiful, especially at sunset.
• Via Tono 128, +39 09 0922 4951, albergo-esperia.it. B&B doubles from €90
Hotel Torre Bennistra, Scopello
It’s worth paying a few more euros for a sea view at this hotel because what you get when you look down through the floating seagulls is one of the most exquisite inlets in Trapani province. Two ancient watchtowers guard an 18th-century tuna fishery that’s lapped by pristine waters, which can be reached from the hotel via a small steep path down the hillside. The beach is tiny, but there are at least three more excellent beaches within a few minutes’ bus ride. Scopello itself is a truly beautiful village with a gurgling water trough in the centre of the little piazza, and a walled garden behind it overflowing with fruit and vegetables, which the owner sells at the gate. This hotel, the oldest in the village, is run by the Lentini family.
• Via Natale di Roma 19, +39 09 2454 1128, hoteltorrebennistra.it. B&B doubles from €70
Hotel Egitarso, San Vito Lo Capo
With a lighthouse away to the left and low mountains on the right, San Vito Lo Capo’s beachfront has been the holiday setting for generations of Sicilian families escaping the heat of Palermo. They come for the long and sumptuously white sandy beach, but also for the couscous festival, which usually takes place in September (25-30 September in 2012). The town is teeming with budget hotels and B&Bs, but Hotel Egitarso sits right at the top of the beachfront. This traditional family hotel has mostly Italian clients and is full of character, from the bulky Sicilian furniture in the rooms to the colourful Caltanissetta tiles that line the corridors. In addition to rooms, the hotel has serviced apartments further down the road.
• Via Lungomare 54, +39 09 23 0972 0111, hotelegitarso.it. B&B doubles from €60
Siracusa Beach Hotel, Arenella
Anyone wanting to combine museum visits with a lively beach experience should appreciate the Siracusa Beach Hotel’s promixity to Siracusa and the island of Ortigia. The sea and sand of Arenella beach are right on the doorstep, but within a 15-minute drive guests can also reach Greek and Roman amphitheatres and a new museum dedicated to Archimedes (arkimedeion.it) in Siracusa. The town also has the Paolo Orsi museum, packed with Greek and Roman remains. Ortigia is also worth visiting for its myriad bars, restaurants and breezy little alleys that lead down to the harbour. Alternatively, further up the coast there’s the beach resort of Fontane Bianche, with a good selection of pizzerias and restaurants. The hotel has plenty of room for outdoor eating and also a large roof terrace.
• Via Nuova Zelanda 1, +39 09 3172 1607, siracusabeachresidence.com. B&B doubles from €70
La Terrazza Sul Mare, Avola
Avola is a quiet little town in Siracusa province that is famous – if anything – for its almonds. But its low profile means that its public beach is hardly ever crowded. Extensive restoration work in the town centre has made Avola’s main piazza a lovely place to stroll in the evening. Join the town’s elderly men as they argue about football and politics until it’s time to go in for dinner. Alternatively head to the beautiful baroque town of Noto and the gorgeous Cava Grande canyon, which are both short drives by car. This B&B is just a few minutes’ walk from the sand. The Monello family have their own citrus farm so expect homemade jams at breakfast.
• Via Metastasio 6, +39 09 3182 3973, laterrazzasulmare.com. B&B doubles from €64
Hotel Paguro, Siculiana Marina
This little village, tucked behind the nature reserve of Torre Salsa, is a quiet corner of an often overlooked corner of Sicily. Young hotelier Giacomo Minnella runs his own place right near the beach, and in addition to rooms with balconies overlooking the sea, the hotel has its own restaurant across the road. It’s a good deal for the price and would make an excellent base for heading west towards the sulphur baths of Sciacca and the windswept Greek archaeological park at Selinunte.
• Via Principe di Piemonte 35, Siculiana Marina, +39 09 2281 5510, hotelresidencepaguro.it, B&B doubles from €60