The ultra-rich spend most of their time working, but they surely know how to kick back and relax in style, comfort and luxury. When it comes to summer vacations, executive business travelers look for exclusivity, privacy, sophistication, authentic experiences and digital detox to relax both their mind and body, and spend quality time with family and friends. It comes as no surprise that renting private villas with all the amenities of a five-star hotel has become increasingly popular among international corporate executives.
Luxury has set its sights on the island of Sicily. It’s not such a stretch to imagine why the Mediterranean’s largest island, just off the southern coast of boot-shaped Italy, has become a hot spot for luxury travel. Here, idyllic beaches, untamed wilderness, charming towns, fine wines and great food meet a rich, multicultural history.
The most exotic place in Europe, sun-drenched Sicily offers a deliciously large number of ultra-luxe private villas with panoramic sea views. The popularity of villa vacations is on the rise and more and more high-end travelers opt for Sicily villa rentals in paradise-like locations.
Dreaming of a sojourn in the glowing Sicilian sunlight? A big part of planning the perfect summer vacation is finding the right destination. From the impossibly beautiful late-Baroque towns of the Val di Noto to the ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte, the below destinations are top picks among affluent holidaymakers.
- Scopello, north-western Sicily
A candidate for sun-soaked Sicily’s prettiest village, Scopello lies between the historic coastal town of Castellammare del Golfo and an expansive nature park called Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro, a 5-mile strip of pristine white sand flanked by soaring mountains.
On the north-western coast of the island, Scopello is set high above the cove of the atmospheric old Tonnara, one of the most photogenic and Instagrammable locations in sunny Sicily. With old warehouses and original fishermen’s cottages round a tiny, sheltered bay hugged by steep-sided cliffs, the Tonnara di Scopello, once home to an ancient tuna factory, is an idyllic location to try local fish dishes, enjoy breath-taking views of the Faraglioni that rise out of the Mediterranean Sea and swim in the turquoise-blue water.
And there’s more. The picturesque beach town of Scopello has served as a filming location for several films and television series, including the popular Hollywood movie Ocean’s Twelve with George Clooney and Brad Pitt, and the Inspector Montalbano TV series, based on the best-selling novels by Italian crime writer Andrea Camilleri.
- Marsala, West Sicily
Sicily’s most westerly city, Marsala is an attractive little town with pleasant pedestrianized old streets and local shops keen to have you taste their dry, flavorsome, richly colored fortified wine. Most high-profile vacationers come to take a comprehensive tour of its world-renowned wineries. Sicily’s copious sunshine and warm, dry climate are perfect for viticulture. This spectacular part of Italy is a wine lover’s paradise and has produced wines for thousands of years.
There are, however, other sights of interest within easy reach of the town, including the nearby picturesque saltpans dotted with red-roofed windmills used to pump seawater, the Egadi Islands and the archaeological island of Mozia, in the Stagnone lagoon.
- Selinunte, south-western Sicily
An easy one-hour drive from Palermo, Selinunte, on the south-west coast of Sicily, is home to majestic temples built by the ancient Greeks. Between Marsala and the historic port town of Sciacca, Selinunte is one of the largest archaeological sites in the Mediterranean.
At the end of the month, Google is putting on an exclusive three-day conference known as The Camp at the Selinunte Archaeological Park. Every year, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page invite business leaders, chief executives, investors, tech gurus and top celebrities from all over the globe to an ultra-exclusive conference combining tech, music and fashion. The ruins will be closed to tourists during Google’s event.
Expected participants for the 2019 Google Camp include Prince Harry, Facebook co-founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, just to mention a few. Prior guest lists have included Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Queen Rania of Jordan, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, basketball legend Michael Jordan, chart-topping tenor Andrea Bocelli and many, many more.
- Noto, south-eastern Sicily
In the south-eastern corner of Sicily, Noto is a UNESCO-protected, 18th-century Baroque masterpiece of town planning. Just 20 minutes south-west of Syracuse, Noto is arguably the most charming town in Sicily, if not Italy.
The principal tourist activity in the limestone capital of Sicilian Baroque architecture is simply a wander around its narrow alleys at a languorous ice cream-eating pace, admiring the honey-colored stone buildings, the weathered stone façades and the countless balconies overlooking the stone-paved streets. It is easy to cover the town on foot along its two main arteries, the Via Cavour and the Corso Vittorio Emanuele, which run west to east. Within five to ten miles of central Noto are some of the most beautiful sandy beaches in sun-splashed Sicily.
- Syracuse, south-eastern Sicily
The ancient city of Syracuse, now listed among UNESCO’s World Heritage sites, is one of Italy’s cultural treasures and the most important city of Magna Graecia. A charming, sun-kissed town of narrow streets on the opal-colored Ionian Sea, Syracuse, Siracusa in Italian – not to be confused with Syracuse, N.Y. – is the birthplace of Archimedes and still charms with a multicultural history that overlaps half a dozen cultures.
Make sure to take a side trip to the historic walled urban island of Ortigia, the oldest part of Syracuse, for its historic outdoor food market, held every morning but Sunday. Here you can find authentic regional produce, including ripe blood-red oranges, herbs, deep purple aubergines, tomatoes, lemons and red chili peppers. Linked to the rest of the town by two bridges, stunning Ortigia can, and should, easily be conquered by foot.
You are genuinely spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury private villas in Sicily, some of which are available to rent through Select Sicily, an upscale vacation-rental company that boasts an impressive collection of fully-furnished and -equipped rental properties in sunny Sicily. For more information, visit www.selectsicilyvillas.com.
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