Donna Coraly has the qualities that make a stay here one of life’s memorable experiences. This aristocratic villa is not only an oasis of peace, beauty and authenticity but it is also a prove of importance of Sicily in the history of Italian Peninsula. Indeed it has an over 600-years-long, here on September 3rd, 1943 the Italian government signed the secret unconditional Armistice of Cassibile with the Allies.
Donna Coraly is hidden in the orange groves, not too far from the captivating city of Siracusa. Smell the pleasant scent of orange blossoms that sprout in the private garden and enjoy the sea-air. The resort is set in an old aristocratic homestead with a moat and watch tower and has a fabulous standard of service. The hotel is owned by Lucia Pascarelli, designer and owner, who after years in London she came back in Sicily to open this intimate property, named it in honor of her beloved grandmother.
Donna Coraly provides five suites, all spacious and tastefully furnished with elegant 19th century antique furniture. Many of the items are part of Lucia’s family heritage since generations. The bright and friendly suites make you feel instantly at home. The mix of past and present will also pull you in its spell. Every suite features a walk-in closet, floors made from majolica-tiling, furniture from the 19th century and modern art. Hospitality, comfort and quality on a high level of, this is what distinguishes all suites as well as the entire property. The suites are distinguished by beautiful hand-painted carpets of mosaic tiles that pave the way to the French doors leading to private gardens. Adding a touch of character, each suite has a Sicilian Testa di Moro, (Caltagirone Ceramics), famed in Sicily for the tragic love story from which these unusual pots derive.
There is an excellent in-house restaurant. The chef at Donna Coraly, caters for all food connoisseurs working with the produce of an impressive fruit and vegetable garden on the estate. Seasonal produce is picked daily and served for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the guests are welcome and encouraged to visit the farm, which lies beyond rose and jasmine gardens. Any meal is naturally dressed with homemade olive oil from the groves next door and the wines, beyond those on the wine list, some are made locally. You can completely enjoy all the wonders of this part of Sicily. Guests can dine romantically under the Sicilian stars.
This accommodation in the countryside of Siracusa offers all kinds of amenities. A Mediterranean garden surrounds the resort, the sea is at your fingertips and a watchtower, an organic-pond, a large veranda and Bio-laghetto swimming pool. Last but not least, there’s also a wellness center. This latter is an oasis of well-being with an in-house therapist which offers massages on request and other treatments all focused to relax and rejuvenate. One of them is the beneficial thermal spring pool which contains the “sali della vita”, essential micro mineral salts, that leave your skin gorgeously hydrated. After a dip in these reviving waters, pull out one of the white-on- white loungers or seek refuge from the rays under the fresh, white, canopied gazebo.
Donna Coraly is a great base to explore the Eastern Sicily. In fact despite the idyllic atmosphere and the absolute tranquility, you can also do various different excursions: close by Donna Coraly there are several beautiful beaches (like Plemmirio or Vendicari, both are Natural Reserves), where a pleasant day at sea can be spent. In addition, the Baroque treasures of the Val di Noto can be admired, which are protected by the UNESCO. You are close to beautiful Siracusa with its Greek rest and the isle of Ortigia, rich of history and charming atmophere. You are at less than 1 hour to chic Taormina or besides golfing, horse riding and cycling you can discover the Alcantara Gorge and see the Mount Etna. However, with a stay in Donna Coraly, Sicily is all yours.
The name of this Suite is taken from the ‘Madonna del Carmelo’, (16th July, processions and celebrations in various Sicilian regions). Carmela in Hebrew means “garden, orchard or even garden of god” and originated from the devotion to the sacred Madonna of Mount Carmelo in Palestine, where the Madonna appeared to a monk in 1251 and saved the population from drought with a miracle. Carmela is a much loved name in Sicily, a traditional homage to femininity in its purest form, regardless of age or class. The Carmela Suite is a Superior Suite composed of 2 rooms. A large bedroom with a king-sized bed and a double sofa bed, dressing room and large bathroom with shower. The Suite opens onto a private garden furnished with a table, chairs and parasol.
The name of this Suite is taken from Costanza d’Altavilla, Queen and Empress of Sicily during the middle Ages. Costanza, daughter of the first King of Sicily, Ruggero II, was born in Palermo in 1154 and crowned in 1191 together with her husband Enrico VI of Sweden, son of Federico Barbarossa. Costanza was renowned for her intellect and her moral values demonstrating ambition and authority. The Costanza Suite is a Superior Suite composed of 1 bedroom with a King size bed, separate cupboard and large bathroom with shower. The Suite opens onto a private garden furnished with a table, chairs and parasol.
This Suite is dedicated to the famous heroine from the romance ‘Il Gattopardo’, written by Giuseppe Tomasi from Lampedusa. It is set in Sicily in the days prior to Italy’s unification and interpreted on the screen by the famous film directed by Luchino Visconti by a young Claudia Cardinale. The Character of Angelica portrayed the strength of the feminine will. Angelica succeeded with great determination and charm to overcome the social barriers of her times. The Angelic Suite is a Superior Suite composed of 1 double bedroom with four poster bed, a double sofa bed, a separate dressing room and bathroom with shower. The Suite opens onto a private garden furnished with a table, chairs and parasol.
The name of this Suite is taken from Santa Rosalia, a Sicilian Noblewoman born in 1130 at the Court of King Guglielmo I, also known as ‘The Bad’. According to tradition she was lady in waiting to Queen Margherita and was promised in marriage at the age of 15 to Count Baldovino. The young Rosalia driven by a profound vocation to prayer and the church refused. A strong and courageous character, she chose to live as a hermit, seeking refuge in a cave, which became a place of pilgrimage. Various miracles were attributed to her and she was proclaimed a Saint in 1624, saving Palermo from the Plague and becoming its Saint. The Rosalia Suite is a Mini Suite, composed of 1 bedroom with a Queen Size Double bed, dressing room and bathroom with shower. It opens onto a private garden furnished with a table, chairs and parasol.
The name of this Suite is taken from the famous romantic novel ‘I Malavoglia’, written by the Sicilian writer Giovanni Verga and published in 1881. The female character ‘Maruzza’, portrayed the Sicilian woman of those times, a woman of the people who accepted with silent dignity and hard work the hardships heaped on her family. Remaining ever loyal in her role of wife and mother, showing admirable strength in her domestic role. The Maruzza Suite is a Mini Suite, composed of 1 bedroom with a Queen Size Double bed, dressing room and bathroom with shower. It opens onto a private garden furnished with a table, chairs and parasol.
An environment created to offer the latest facial and body treatments using natural products to guarantee optimum results, safety and well-being. Massages and relaxation techniques from around the World, beauty treatments of the highest quality are offered to create a memorable and relaxing haven. On offer, My Private SPAce, two hours of total physical and mental relaxation tailor made to your requirement. Donna Coraly can offer tailor made programs combining treatments, gymnastics/Yoga, and nutritionally balanced diets using only organic locally sourced products. Each program is made to measure and can take place in our air conditioned studio, aqua gym or in the open air in our beautiful park. It is possible to incorporate a calorie controlled organic, detox diet into the program.
Bio-Laghetto Swimming Pool
The perfect location to soak up the sun, relax on the loungers, cocktail in hand, before stepping into fresh water. The Bio-Pool features the Biodesign innovative technology, which provides a structure built on site with natural stones crushed and combined with highly technological materials, in full compliance with taking care of landscape.
Many exemplary tropical plants, Palm Trees, Succulent Cacti which cohabit with fruit trees, Olive trees, Citrus trees and decorative plants, such as Jacarande and Phanera Purpurea, (common name orchid tree), mixed with rose pergolas and Jasmine flowers to delicately perfume the air. Interesting and rare plants like ‘the hand of Buddha’ and ‘the citrus caviar’, are harmoniously planted near the typical Sicilian Quince and more tropical Mango and Avocado, not to forget the jujube date, arbutus red berries and pomegranates. At the center of the park is an old Carob tree, symbolic tree of the Mediterranean and in particular of the South East of Sicily. The garden leads you on between Citrus and Fruit trees towards the walled garden, which provides many of the fresh fruits, salads and herbs for the kitchen.
The history of Donna Coraly:
A noble family, a historical estate going back generations. Stories of cosmopolitan ladies, real protagonists of their time. The noble ladies of the past inspired the current owner in her vision and recreation of a hospitality long forgotten. A hospitality of the highest level. The estate of San Michele has belonged to the Grande family for centuries. Donna Coraly takes its name from the noble lady of the past, a protagonist of Social Life of 20th Century. Coraly Grande Sinatra, a noblewoman enamoured with the arts, travelling and an avid supporter of women’s rights. To Donna Coraly, grandmother of the current owner, tribute is given in the creation of a unique resort bearing her name. It is with this in mind, that her granddaughter, Lucia Pascarelli was inspired to recreate the atmosphere, style and beauty of past times. Her infectious and proud personality have inspired a true oasis of calm, cordiality and relaxation. Tradition and refined good tastes. Habits born from the past, which live on at Donna Coraly Resort.
A place which changed the history:
Donna Coraly Resort is embraced by an enchanting Sicily, echoing to the sounds of great enterprises. It was right here, within the Vignazze vineyard that the armistice of Cassibile was signed on the 3rd September, 1943. In the presence of Dwight Eisenhower, the English Commodore Dick and Captain Dean, Generals Castellano and Bedell Smith signed the document which sanctioned the end of the hostility between the Italians and Anglo Americans. Made public only 5 days later, (8th September).
When to go:
The best time to visit Siracusa is from May to June or September to October. These late spring and early fall months afford hospitable temperatures in the 22° C, which are ideal for temple gazing, beach lazing or hiking. As such, these are the most popular times to visit, as well as the most expensive. If you plan a July or August vacation, you’ll contend with fewer crowds, fewer open businesses and high temperatures that can reach almost 37° C. If you can take the heat, you can find deals. Winter sees 10-degree temperatures; you can find greatly reduced hotel rates, but sea swimming is out.
The window-walled restaurant overlooks the courtyard gardens; in summer, they’re opened to let in the sunshine, gentle breezes and a heady floral scent. In cooler months, a heater keeps guests comfy. The hotel’s acres of fertile farmland and well-tended gardens are abundantly fruitful and the chef crafts zero-kilometre produce into tempting menus. Dishes change daily, depending on what’s been harvested that morning: expect modern takes on typical Sicilian fare, such as Pasta alla Norma (with eggplant, tomato and salted ricotta), Ionian-netted swordfish and gamberoni and citrus-infused desserts. There’s a lavishly tiled breakfast room in the main building, but it’s only in use when the weather’s especially chilly. The wine list features labels from Sicily. From breakfast to dinner, going for a drink at sunset offered by the owner Lucia Pascarelli, in each dish of this restaurant you can find a new way for the classic Sicilian dishes using innovative techniques, such as molecular cuisine.
Donna Coraly is a great base to explore this part of Sicily, in fact if you can bear to tear yourself away from all the tranquility here, take a bespoke outing that Lucia will arrange: such as a trip to Ortigia to listen to opera at the Greek amphitheatre or a boat trip around the Southern coastline of Siracusa. The annual Infiorata, held on the third weekend of May every year, is also something to plan. Carpeting the streets of the town of Noto, stretching up the road as far as the eye can see, this spectacular feast has become an internationally attended calendar event celebrating this UNESCO World Heritage site. However, Donna Coraly is approximately 2.5 km from the beautiful Fontane Bianche beach and 7 km from the protected Natural Reserve of Plemmirio, 6 Km from Siracusa, 25 Km from Noto, 30 Km from the Natural Reserve of Vendicari, 70 Km from Ragusa and an hour’s drive from Catania airport.
Visit the Greek Theatre – Impressive, solemn, intriguing, with stunning views. To be seated on the stairs and listen to Medea, Agamemnon or Oedipus can happen even without actors on the stage; it’s such an evocative place! It’s a testimony of several historic periods, from the prehistoric ages to Late Antiquity and the Byzantine era. The Greek Theatre is one of the biggest in the Greek world, dug entirely into the rock. In ancient times it was used for plays and popular assemblies, today it is a place where Greek tragedy lives again through the Series of Classical Performances that take place every year thanks to the INDA (National Institute of Ancient Drama). At sunset, and maybe even with a full moon, on the stairs of the Greek theatre, we will have a unique experience.
Explore the Ear of Dionysius – The legendary Ear of Dionysius is the most famous cave in Siracusa. It’s named this for its shape like donkey ears and particularly for its remarkable acoustic properties which amplify sounds. According to the legend, the tyrant Dionysus held prisoners and hidden up high, he used to their conversations. It’s an artificial cave located in an ancient stone quarry called Latomia del Paradiso, under the Greek Theatre of Siracusa.
Discover the Beauties of Ortigia – The Duomo Square is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy! Surrounded by magnificent baroque palaces and heart of the civil and religious life of Ortigia. The Cathedral is the only example in the world of a pagan temple and at present Christian church. It stands on the ruins of a temple dedicated to Athena that was built in 480 BC. It keeps, behind the baroque façade, a jewel of the past with Doric columns still visible both from the outside and the inside. At the back of the square you can find the church of Santa Lucia alla Badia, which houses the painting of Caravaggio “The Burial of Saint Lucy”. The Castello Maniace is one of the most picturesque castles of the island. A true symbol of the power and genius of the emperor Federico II, surrounded by the colours of the sea. A military fortification of the 5th century BC where Archimedes defended Siracusa from enemy attacks. The place where the legend of the Burning Glass of Archimedes originates and one of the largest and most complete military works of the Greek period. It was probably built by Dionysus to complete the great defensive system called “Dionysian walls”, which ran along the edge of the plateau of Epipoli. The Temple of Apollo is a captivating Greek ruin can be immediately noticed when arriving to the small island of Ortigia. In the evening, thanks to the lights, you can enjoy a unique spectacle, the temple is in the middle of modern roads and full of local shops, creating a nice contrast. The Doric temple in the oldest stone of Sicily is also one of those with the most troubled history. First it was first a Paleo-Christian church, then a mosque, then a church again in the Norman period and barracks at the time of Charles V. The Fonte Aretusa is a small lake full of life and colour with a mythological atmosphere: Alpheus and Arethusa, you can hear them in the air! The fountain originates in a fresh water spring and creates a small semicircular lake where fish, geese and ducks live and the green colour triumphs and the plants of the only natural Papyrus (Papireto) river bed of Europe grow luxuriantly.
Enjoy the Ancient Market of Ortigia – A festival of colours, scents and authentic flavours of country, the charm of the ancient markets. At the entrance of Ortigia, you will be greeted by the aroma of all kinds of spices, chilli peppers from Etna, almond cakes, as well as seafood and fresh fish. A small market enlivened by colourful “vanniate”, catchy phrases in Sicilian shouted to attract customers. Buy a rarity: Strattu, a wonderful natural tomato paste, useful for enriching sauces and stews. A nice opportunity to get to know the local products and learn new Sicilian recipes.
Explore the Plemmirio – Founded in 2005, the Marine Area of Plemmirio is the youngest marine oasis in Italy. It covers an area of about twelve kilometers of coastline and more than 2.500 hectares of sea. The protected marine area is divided into three parts designated as A, B and C, with the aim to provide maximum protection to the areas of greatest environmental value, which mainly fall in the “ integral reserve” area (A) – the true heart of the marine reserve. A series of activities – including diving – are allowed in Area B, called “general reserve”, although regulated and licensed by the management. The Area C is instead the “partial reserve”, where lies the greater extension of the marine protected area. Along with the spectacular scenery and the numerous marine species, these fissures make even more attractive and striking the diving tours of thousands of fans that every year, when summer arrives, love to dive in the clear waters of this marine reserve.
Visit Noto – Noto is an architectural supermodel, a baroque belle so gorgeous you might mistake it for a film set. Located less than 40km southwest of Siracusa, the town is home to one of Sicily’s most beautiful historic centres. The pièce de résistance is Corso Vittorio Emanuele, an elegant walkway flanked by thrilling baroque palazzi and churches. Dashing at any time of the day, it’s especially hypnotic in the early evening, when the red-gold buildings seem to glow with a soft inner light.Although a town called Noto or Netum has existed here for many centuries, the Noto that you see today dates to the early 18th century, when it was almost entirely rebuilt in the wake of the devastating 1693 earthquake. Creator of many of the finest buildings was Rosario Gagliardi, a local architect whose extroverted style also graces churches in Modica and Ragusa.
Climb the Volcano – Dominating the landscape of eastern Sicily, Mt Etna is a massive brooding presence. At 3329m it is Italy’s highest mountain south of the Alps and the largest active volcano in Europe. It’s in an almost constant state of activity and eruptions occur frequently, most spectacularly from the four summit craters, but more often, and more dangerously, from the fissures and old craters on the mountain’s flanks. This activity, which is closely monitored by 120 seismic activity stations and satellites, means that it is occasionally closed to visitors. Since 1987 the volcano and its slopes have been part of a national park, the Parco dell’Etna. Encompassing 590 sq km and some 21 towns, the park’s varied landscape ranges from the severe, snowcapped mountaintop to lunar deserts of barren black lava, beech woods and lush vineyards where the area’s highly rated DOC wine is produced.
Visit Taormina – Spectacularly perched on the side of a mountain, Taormina is one of Sicily’s most popular summer destinations, a chi-chi resort town popular with holidaying high-rollers and those wanting a taste of Sicilian dolce vita. Granted it’s unashamedly touristy and expensive, but the town merits a couple of days for its stunning ancient theatre, people watching and breathtaking vistas. Founded in the 4th century BC, Taormina enjoyed great prosperity under the Greek ruler Gelon II and later under the Romans, but fell into quiet obscurity after being conquered by the Normans in 1087. Its reincarnation as a tourist destination dates to the 18th century, when northern Europeans discovered it on the Grand Tour. Among its fans was DH Lawrence, who lived here between 1920 and 1923.
Siracusa, known to English speakers as Syracuse, is a wonder to behold. One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, the city was founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power. It became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization. Although Siracusa lived under tyranny, rulers such as Dionysius filled their courts with Greeks of the highest cultural stature, among them the playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides, and the philosopher Plato. The Athenians, who didn’t welcome Siracusa’s rise, set out to conquer Sicily, but the natives outsmarted them in what was one of the greatest military campaigns in ancient history (413 BC). The city continued to prosper until it was conquered two centuries later by the Romans.
Present-day Siracusa still has some of the finest examples of Baroque art and architecture; dramatic Greek and Roman ruins; and a Duomo that’s the stuff of legend, a microcosm of the city‘s entire history in one building. The modern city also has a wonderful, lively, Baroque old town worthy of extensive exploration, as well as pleasant piazzas, outdoor cafés and bars, and a wide assortment of excellent seafood. There are essentially two areas to explore in Siracusa: the Parco Archeologico (Archaeological Zone), on the mainland; and the island of Ortigia, the ancient city first inhabited by the Greeks, which juts out into the Ionian Sea and is connected to the mainland by two small bridges. Ortigia is becoming increasingly popular with tourists, and is starting to lose its old-fashioned charm in favor of modern boutiques.
Watch the video by Luca Morreale (click here) to see amazing timelapses of Siracusa as seen from several corners of the city. The video reveals timelapses of the city where the videomaker shows his love for Siracusa, which at the time was the most important and beautiful city of ancient Greece.
Where to stay: The Donna Coraly is a secluded and serene boutique resort, in the grounds of the Grande family San Michele estate (there’s even a tiny private chapel). It’s run by Lucia Pascarelli, the granddaughter of Mrs. Coraly. Donna Coraly has the qualities that make a stay here one of life’s memorable experiences. This aristocratic villa is not only an oasis of peace, beauty and authenticity but it is also a prove of importance of Sicily in the history of Italian Peninsula. Indeed it has an over 600-years-long, here on September 3rd, 1943 the Italian government signed the secret unconditional Armistice of Cassibile with the Allies. Donna Coraly provides five suites, all spacious and tastefully furnished with elegant 19th century antique furniture. Many of the items are part of Lucia’s family heritage since generations. The bright and friendly suites make you feel instantly at home. The mix of past and present will also pull you in its spell. Every suite features a walk-in closet, floors made from majolica-tiling, furniture from the 19th century and modern art. Hospitality, comfort and quality on a high level of, this is what distinguishes all suites as well as the entire property. A chef is on hand if you’re here for lunch or dinner (his feasts are well worth sampling).