Just in time for the much-anticipated return of the high season in southern Italy, a landmark hotel is debuting a fresh new look and an invitation to experience it all. San Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel is now open.
With spectacular views in every direction, San Domenico Palace is uniquely situated between the majesty of Mount Etna above, the deep blue waters of the Ionian Sea below, and the beautiful south-eastern coast of Sicily as far as the eye can see.
With just 111 guest rooms and suites, the atmosphere is intimate, as though returning to a treasured friend’s seaside home each year. The most coveted room is the Royal Suite, with principal rooms all opening onto a large terrace and plunge pool with views of Mount Etna, the ancient Greek Theatre and the Ionian Sea. Terraces are lined with glass for infinity views, and in all, there are 19 rooms with private plunge pools.
Built on the site of a 14th century Dominican convent, the San Domenico Hotel first came to life in 1896 with the addition of a new building in Italian Liberty style (today’s Grand Hotel Wing) adjacent to accommodations converted from former quarters in the Ancient Convent Wing. It soon became a highlight on the Grand Tour, favoured by royalty and nobility and increasingly, a colourful cast of artists, writers and Hollywood stars. Set amid lush gardens reimagined by acclaimed Italian landscape architect Marco Bay with sweeping sea views, the Hotel pairs contemporary art with antiquities and architectural relics throughout.
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Travellers will find that most of Sicily has reopened, from the designer shops and charming outdoor trattorias in the town of Taormina to artistic venues such as the steps-away ancient Greek Theatre, where a full calendar of musical performances are planned throughout summer. Beach clubs are open, with guests of Four Seasons receiving special access to one of the most popular clubs. The concierge team is happy to offer recommendations or arrange bespoke itineraries for guests who wish to explore, including wine tastings, scenic hikes, architecture and history tours, and boat excursions to the famous Grotta Azzura of Isola Bella with a chef-prepared picnic spread to enjoy along the way.
More to look forward to: San Domenico Palace opens annually from April through to the end of October, with spring and autumn offering milder weather and fewer crowds.
The rebirth of the San Domenico Palace also heralds the return of Principe Cerami to Sicily’s thriving culinary and viticulture scene, where Executive Chef Massimo Mantarro’s menu is inspired by the very land where he grew up on the slope of Mount Etna. True to his roots but always experimenting, Chef Massimo’s genius can be savoured best in his #FSMasterdish, pasta e seppia. This clever combination of fresh ingredients marries sea and earth in marinated cuttlefish tagliatelle perched atop homemade spaghetti with cuttlefish ink afloat courgette blossom fondue. Paired with a glass of local wine selected by Head Sommelier Alessandro Malfitana, it’s Sicily on a plate.
Additional dining experiences include Rosso, where a large terrace affords panoramic views of Mount Etna and Taormina Bay as a setting to enjoy local specialties and international classics; and the poolside Anciovi, where the menu celebrates the bounty of the sea, and where creative cocktails can be enjoyed long after the sun goes down. In the garden setting of Bar & Chiostro, drinks are best paired with light fare, including the must-try pennette served in the local “Norma” style with aubergine and ricotta cheese.
Not to be missed are the exquisite creations of Chef de Patisserie Vincenzo Abagnale, who joins Four Seasons following four years with Chef Mauro Colagreco at three Michelin-starred Mirazur in France, that was ranked #1 on the list of World’s Best Restaurants in 2019.