Dating back to the 1800s, Monaci delle Terre Nere is a historic property in Zafferana Etnea, Italy. The villa and estate was most recently renovated in 2014 and now serves as a boutique getaway. The small hotel accepts reservations for 15 unique rooms, each named after wine terms. While the design of each space varies from vintage to contemporary, each puts comfort and culture first. Natural materials such as stone and wood showcase traditional architecture in the attic rooms, while many of the ground floor spaces are furnished with modern Italian designs. Cozy details such as fireplaces and terrace-facing windows bring the look together. More than an ornament, the fireplaces warm the entire building, so that solar and wood energy account for half of the hotel’s power grid.

A certified Eco-Bio hotel, Monaci delle Terre Nere is dedicated to conserving energy and farming sustainably. The hotel is connected with 40 acres of organic farmland, including olive groves, citrus trees, and vineyards. All of the produce served at Monaci delle Terre Nere is grown on-site, ensuring fresh, healthy meals.

Travelers can dine at Monaci delle Terre Nere all day if they want to. The resort offers a breakfast spread of local and homemade baked goods, toppings, fruits and vegetables, cheeses, eggs, cold-cut meats, and unpasteurized juices. In the winter, the buffet is served beside a historic wine press. The restaurant is also open by reservation and exclusively for guests for lunch and dinner on the terrace. The menu rotates to accommodate seasonal fluctuations and diners’ vegetarian and vegan requests, but it keeps offerings good and simple, in the spirit of Sicilian cuisine.

Exploring Monaci delle Terre Nere, leisure-seekers can look forward to a low-key, relaxing experience. Within the rooms, there is free WiFi, should people need to check in on the outside world, but there are no TVs or telephones. After all, the point of a vacation is to unwind. To this end, the hotel offers quiet spaces, such as the reading room and the grounds.

Out of doors, the garden and solarium beckon. These green spaces connect the lawn to the farm, flowing from one type of landscape to another. Closeby to the hotel, there is an infinity pool for all ages and a playground for children, encouraging everyone to enjoy the daytime. For adults, the bars by the pool and the lounge provide the opportunity to indulge in an aperitif. After trying Etna wine, guests will likely want to learn more about the local vintage from Monaci delle Terre Nere’s wine classes and tastings. Likewise, the Sicilian cooking classes and oil tastings welcome guests to expand their culinary horizons. For an even deeper understanding of the local food, guests should tour the farm for a first-hand look at what goes into the meals at Monaci delle Terre Nere. The hotel offers physical activities as well, including yoga and pilates lessons during the summer.

Adventurers should take advantage of the on-site bike rental and tour options or go on food, hiking the historic roads and the trails of nearby Etna National Park. The park is home to Etna, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Europe’s largest active volcano. Below the mountain, nature-seekers will also find the Alcantara lava gorge, a watery paradise in itself. Further afield, travelers can admire attractions such as the Noto baroque, the mosaics of Villa del Casale, the beaches and archaeological sites of Marzamemi, and local gems such as fish market and Greek Theatre. The Mediterranean countryside puts wilderness and cultural attractions side-by-side, so there is something to appeal to everyone. Consult with Monaci Delle Terre Nere to create your own bespoke trip.

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Holly is a poet from Kentucky. She grew up first in a Sears house, then on a farm. She studied English and Gender Studies at Mount Holyoke College and moved to Manhattan for love. As an occasional jewelry-maker and museum patron, Holly favors wearable and functional design but is eager to see work that challenges her aesthetics. Read more and connect by visiting her blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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