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Sicily: still an unspoiled island of beauty but now home to boutique hotels and trendy restaurants.
If you’re wondering where to spend Easter this year, how about Sicily? Always renowned for its beautiful coast and historic monuments, Italy’s largest island now seems to be shaking off its slightly daunting image as a place where restaurants and hotels could be a little hit and miss and the locals’ attitude towards outsiders could be somewhat ambiguous at times.
Now, along with the fabulous mosaics of Monreale and Cefalù, the Greek temple of Segesta, and Palermo's spectacular palaces and churches you can find more stylish accommodation, from Rocco Forte's luxurious La Verdura resort (www.verduraresort.com) near Sciacca on the south-west coast, to trendy designer Bed and Breakfast places such as BB22 in Palermo, reports the Daily Telegraph. Taormina also has a new five-star boutique hotel, the Metropole (0942 625 417; www.metropoletaormina.com) and the luxury Grand Hotel Timeo (0942 627 0200; www.grandhoteltimeo.net) has been impressively revamped. Think Sicily (www.thinksicily.com) are reputable specialists in villas if you prefer to rent, guaranteeing properties of quality.
In general the island is now much more dynamic with wine bars (Sicilian wines are fast becoming famous), art galleries, restaurants, and craft shops proudly springing up in the old historic parts of Palermo and Siracusa. It has also spawned a new generation of chefs, so there are a number of swish restaurants where you can sample wonderful dishes such as pine-nut-smoked fish, wild mushrooms or ‘aubergine Parmigiana’. But the good news is that Sicily remains a basically undiscovered island. If you steer clear of the main tourist spots, you’ll be enchanted by its beauty and warmth.