Sicily has it all. From archeological sites and hilltop villages to islands, volcanos, and excellent food and wine. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sicily is a continent, and there’s much to discover each time you visit.
While the Sicilian coastline steals the show with iconic destinations like Taormina and Cefalù, the island’s greatest untapped potential is its entroterra: the interior. Sicily’s quiet, inner world is full of small towns featuring pretty piazzas with ornate churches, and its sweeping landscapes are largely untouched by tourism. With a rich agricultural legacy, a trip across its hills and valleys promises to delight visitors looking for authentic Sicilian cuisine.
A stone’s throw from the bustling streets of Palermo and the Madonie Mountains, the area surrounding Regaleali doesn’t have a precise name, though you could refer to it as the golden fields of Italy. Each summer, carpets of wheat fields blanket the hills which extend out far into the horizon like a mirage. The landscape is painterly and golden yellow; it is similar to the Val d’Orcia, but more wild. Bales of hay are visible in the distance, while oversized cactuses and oleanders erupt on the side of the road.
Like sand dunes, time here stands still. This area was once known as the granaio – the bread basket of Italy because its abundance of wheat helped feed the country in the 1920s. The land is still fertile and continues to deliver superior produce to this day. This is the land where the noble Tasca d’Almerita family purchased its first wine estate in 1830 and established itself as one of Sicily’s most eminent viticultural enterprises.
As soon as you step foot at Tenuta Regaleali, you know you’ve arrived in a historic place. For 8 generations and nearly 200 years, the Tasca d’Almerita family has spearheaded Sicilian agriculture and winemaking through passion, innovation, and perseverance. The estate’s flagship Rosso del Conte wine, made with native Nero d’Avola and Perricone grapes, was the first single vineyard wine produced in Sicily. Conte Lucio Tasca d’Almerita, who sadly passed away in July, was the first to introduce international grape varietals in Sicily, opening the island to a global audience.
Covering 600 hectares with 12 different types of soil that produce 18 wines, Tenuta Regaleali has long been a mecca for wine lovers. And staying overnight is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the landscape and lifestyle. Hospitality has always been in Tasca d’Almerita’s DNA, and illustrious guests like Gioacchino Rossini, Richard Wagner and Jacqueline Kennedy have stayed at Regaleali. This sense of familial hospitality is still present on the estate, where you’ll feel like a guest of the household, rather than a visitor.
The operation is personal, rather than commercial: the estate only has a few stand-alone villas, and a handful of bedrooms located within a central stone courtyard surrounding a giant magnolia tree. The rooms feature vintage furnishings and bedding with embroidered family linens. Lunch and dinner are included during your stay and served family-style in the villa’s living room, where you can mingle with the estate manager and enologist over a glass of wine and plate of pasta.
Guests can hike around the vineyards, ride bikes through the estate, and enjoy guided wine tastings. A few kilometers down the road, the Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School also offers cooking classes inspired by Sicily’s “monsù” tradition, teaching the historic recipes of the island’s aristocratic families.
Nearby, Susafa is a newer establishment in the area but one with ancient roots. A historic masseria that has been converted into a country boutique hotel, it mirrors Tenuta Regaleali’s mission to preserve Sicily’s authenticity and promote its identity. The two properties collaborate on pop-up events, like a summer concert series hosted in its “sea of wheat”. This July, Peter Pavlov, first viola of La Fenice di Venezia, and Alexandra Pavlova, an internationally renowned pianist, played an al fresco concerto overlooking the golden hills while guests sipped a selection of Tasca d’Almerita’s wines.
For those looking to go off the grid and experience the slow, southern Italian lifestyle, the heart of Sicily promises to refresh and inspire.