Friends of ours have stayed at the Villa Ducale many times over the past twelve years, so we thought we were prepared for the experience.
The usual terms you tend to find in TripAdvisor reviews... "a gem," "gracious and welcoming"... simply can't do it justice. Our stay there was one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever had, and we've been around a while and gone to quite a few places.
From the second you walk through the door, all the rush and stress of getting from your previous Point A to this most charming of all Point Bs begins to fall away. A staff member greets you, and you immediately start to feel that all needs will be met, all questions answered… everything’s going to be okay.
And then you look around. Oh, boy, do you look around! Just a few steps from the reception desk, the view from the terrace is, sweeping, breathtaking and a half-dozen other adjectives usually reserved for Hollywood epics. A vast swath of the Ionian Sea is framed by the flowers of the terrace parapet and Etna steams away in the distance. Take the good camera… you’re gonna need it.
And then there’s breakfast, though it almost seems laughable to apply such a mundane term to what you encounter as you blink and shuffle your way to the terrace in the morning. You’re hoping for good coffee and something decent to get you through to lunch. What you find is two large tables set in two different rooms, covered in sweets and savories, meats and breads, cheeses and olives and usually at least two things you’ve never seen before but quickly learn to try anyway. One of the most frequently heard remarks at a Villa Ducale breakfast is, “What is this?”, usually spoken delightedly through a large mouthful of whatever it is. And if you’re not feeling adventurous, there are chafing dishes chock full of the usual nice homey eggs and things, and cereal, and blood orange juice and… oh, just forget it. Trust me. It’s all there.
One day, while everyone else went to the beach, I stayed behind at the hotel for some quiet reading time and I got a chance to observe the staff at work. It was a wonder to behold. I saw at least three different arrivals and each one was treated with the same degree of welcoming warmth. The really amazing thing was that the welcome was never forced or robotic. The staff at Villa Ducale really, really like their jobs and it shows! Their smiles are genuine, as is their concern for making the stay of each and every one of their guests as pleasant and carefree as possible, not just at the hotel, but throughout Taormina. I mean, just read some of the other reviews here. Note how frequently the guests remember some or all of the staff members’ names. When’s the last time a hotel employee inspired you to do that?
The other amazing thing is that they managed to accomplish all that without once being invasive or intrusive. It was hospitality taken to the level of a fine art. I never passed through the lobby or sat on the terrace without someone gently inquiring if I wanted or needed anything, getting it for me if I did, and then quietly going about their business. Other than that, you hardly notice the staff until you start to feel you do need something, and it's amazing how often they seem to pick up on that before you have to ask.
They’re even thinking about you when you’re NOT there! The four of us lingered over dinner longer than we should have on our final night, past the departure time for the hotel shuttle. By all standards of fairness, we should have been left to our own devices. Instead, we were approached by a waiter with a phone. It was the desk clerk at the Villa Ducale (who had made our restaurant reservation earlier) making sure we were all right.
Andrea and Rosaria Quartucci have created a masterpiece. Two masterpieces, actually, since they also own the Villa Carlotta, another small, stylish, elegant gem just a short walk outside Taormina proper. One wall of the ground floor bar is an actual ancient Roman wall with deep chambers that used to house actual ancient dead Romans! They now house gorgeous Sicilian ceramics in gleaming silver plate. We dined at the terrace restaurant… squid ink linguini, spaghetti allo scoglio, pistachio ricotta ravioli, preceded by at least a half dozen remarkable appetizers and followed by a glass of the local almond wine. We were too full for dessert.
I realize I’m in danger of writing one of those reviews that are far too long for anyone to read. Believe me, I could go on a lot longer.
Thank you Alessia, Santina, Paolo, Antonio and Saro for a most memorable vacation!
Thank you Andrea and Rosaria for your warmth and kindness, your exquisite taste and the artistry of your hospitality!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Taormina Hotel Villa Ducale is small luxury boutique hotel perched in an elevated position above the centre of Taormina km 1,3) commanding a unique outstanding view over the Mediterranean sea and Mount Etna.Our hotel,member of HIP hotels, is incredibly pretty, with flowers and colours adorning every angle, and a view to die for.Every bedroom is individually designed with the highest attention to detail, furnished with great taste in a mix of Sicilian traditional and Italian design contemporary style, each has its own private panoramic terrace or balcony.The hotel is able to offer a variety of personalised services, such as cooking lessons, wine tasting and tailor made meals, special romantic candle-lit dinners which can be arranged easily with the super friendly staff.Eleven Double rooms and six suites with full aminities and free wi-fi connection.Free shuttle to center and the beach. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Ducale Hotel Taormina
- Hotel Villa Ducale Taormina, Sicily