For a completely new and different take on Palermo, head to the brand new Rocco Forte Villa Igiea luxury hotel in Sicily. We took a direct flight from Switzerland to Palermo to check out this stunning new addition to the Rocco Forte portfolio. If you’ve never been to Sicily, this property is a great way to experience this magical island for the first time.
It’s located just outside the busy and historic port city of Palermo and offers a shuttle service that will drop you off in the center of the town. This makes it easy to explore the markets, shops, and restaurants, with the ability to return to your luxurious retreat outside of the city at the end of the day.
Villa Igiea is a 19th-century palazzo that was once owned by one of the wealthiest families in Palermo and has been transformed into what is undoubtedly the most luxurious hotel in the Palermo area. The historic buildings and lush landscape make you feel like you’ve escaped to a unique destination, all just minutes away from Sicily’s most important city center. The inside of the hotel has been completely renovated using colors and patterns inspired by an original mural in the hotel. The renovation was so comprehensive that it feels like you’re staying in a brand new hotel, yet it retains its charm and history.
Our flight landed a little too late for lunch, so after we checked into our room, we stopped into the Igiea Terrazza Bar for snacks and drinks before heading to dinner. We were pleasantly surprised to see a frozen glass and bottle of frozen gin removed from the freezer when Clayton ordered a martini – the best way to serve a martini in our opinion. The bar is overseen by creative director Salvatore Calabrese, who invented the famous frozen gin martinis that are served at Duke’s in London, so they serve the bar’s signature “my martini” in this style. This came paired with a plate of snacks inspired by local street food like arancini and panelle. I appreciated that their non-alcoholic cocktails were actually very good and not just juices or sweet cocktails — they were extremely balanced. My favorite was the “peperoncino mio,” made with honey, chili, and basil.
Later that evening, we had dinner at the exquisite Florio restaurant. Decorated in bold white and green with towering palms in local ceramic pots, the menu offers numerous local dishes made with fresh products like salt-baked fish and pasta with Sicilian prawns. The wine list was equally impressive, including a selection of natural and small production wines from Sicily.
Breakfast is served daily on the patio of Florio with a selection of traditional Italian dishes, fruit, eggs (we suggest trying the eggs with zucchini and mint), and even freshly filled cannoli.
It bears repeating that the location of this stunning property is ideal. It’s just a short drive to downtown Palermo as well as the famous beaches north of the city. You can also just spend time by Villa Igiea’s beautiful pool or indulge in a treatment at their Irene Forte spa.
Villa Igiea, Via Belmonte, 43, 90142 Palermo PA, Italy, Note: Villa Igiea provided support for the reporting of this story.