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Hotel Highlights

  • The chance to stay with a genuinely hospitable Sicilian family.
  • Sandwiched between beautiful countryside and a stunning coastline.
  • Learn how to make Sicilian dishes at Silvia’s regular cookery classes.

Overview

Spectacularly poised along on Sicily’s rugged southern coast, Azienda Agricola Mandranova hotel sets you on a grand tour of the geniality and gourmet cuisine at the heart of Sicilian life. More than just a charming guesthouse with welcoming proprietors, the hotel welcomes you into fold, offering cooking classes that feature produce plucked from the olive trees and vegetable patches that fill the gardens.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Azienda Agricola Mandranova with us:

A bottle of Mandranova extra-virgin olive oil

Facilities

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Azienda Agricola Mandranova Hotel – Sicily – Italy

Need To Know

Rooms

13, including four suites.

Check–out

11am – though later check-out may be possible, availability permitting. Earliest check-in, 2pm; however, the reception closes at 7pm so it's not possible to check in after this time.

Rates

Double rooms from $161.16 (€127), excluding tax at 10 per cent.

More details

Rates include breakfast.

Also

La Robazza and Il Casello apartments can both be rented as self-catering properties by the week, but they’re used on a B&B basis during peak season. Visit between September and November if you want to catch the olive harvest, although tours of the groves and press can be arranged all year. A new addition to Azienda Agricola Mandranova's offerings is classes in olive-oil soap making: classes cost €20 a person, including soap.

At the hotel

Library of books, music and films, pool table. In rooms: air-conditioning, bottled water and bath products by Culti; flatscreen TVs in suites. There’s no WiFi, but an internet point is available between 9am and 11 am every morning.

Our favourite rooms

L’Oliva is a deluxe two-bedroom suite big enough for three, with a huge cosy sitting room, a small single bedroom and two bathrooms (shower in one, tub in the other). It’s beautifully tiled, with a quartz and cement floor and an antique bed adorned with carved cherubs with a rich maroon coverlet. Rooms in the newest building are closest to the road – avoid these if you are sensitive to the occasional car horn or rush of traffic.

Poolside

The little square little infinity pool (once an irrigation tank) looks down over the olive trees and fields beyond from its hillside perch above the farm. The violet-tinted water does wonders for the skin, thanks to its high sulphur content.

Packing tips

It’s more a case of what not to pack. Travel light as you’ll want to bring home as much of Mandranova’s home-made pistachio pesto or olive-oil soap from your soap-making class as possible.

Also

There’s a two-night minimum stay. The restaurant and one dedicated suite are wheelchair-accessible. The hotel is perched by a main road, so you might hear some occasional traffic noise.

Children

Though the hotel is geared towards adults, kids are welcome. Baby cribs are free, and older children can stay on a sofa bed in the suites for €25 a night (including breakfast). Babysitting (€10 an hour) and children’s menus are available on request.

Food & Drink

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Azienda Agricola Mandranova Hotel – Sicily – Italy

Hotel Restaurant

The Mandranova restaurant is where co-owner Silvia serves up traditional Sicilian dishes such as torta di mandorle (almond cake) and timballo di anelletti (Sicilian ring pasta with peas and aubergine), all made with fresh-from-the-garden ingredients. Don’t be surprised if the hotel’s dogs settle by your feet throughout the meal.

Hotel Bar

There’s no actual bar, but guests can take aperitivi and digestivi until 11pm in the two living rooms or on one of the stylish mint-green plastic sofas set in the gardens.

Last orders

The restaurant stops serving at 8.30pm; the last glasses of local wine are poured around midnight.

Room service

Tapenade, local cheeses, Sicilian wines, bread and, of course, olive oil can be brought to your room between 9am and 8pm.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Casual and relaxed – think Palmeritan gentility on a country break.

Top table

In summer, ask for one of the tables alongside the casale (main house), so you can dine alfresco by candlelight.

Local Guide

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Azienda Agricola Mandranova Hotel – Sicily – Italy
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Spice up your culinary skills with the hotel's cookery class (€60) – Silvia will discuss the menu with you the day before and take you through all the steps in preparing it, using locally sourced ingredients and garden-grown vegetables. For ocean-bound fun, ride the Tornado – Mandranova's 38-foot boat – along the coastline, stopping at an island for lunch and spotting dolphins on the way, before returning to Port Licati to take in the daily fish market.

Local restaurants

Half an hour down the coast in the little port of Licata is one of Sicily’s culinary headliners; La Madia has netted a twinset of Michelin stars thanks to homegrown chef Pino Cuttaia, whose punchy, playful menu draws from his childhood memories of the area. Pine-cone-smoked fish is one of his most flavoursome signatures (+39 09 2277 1443; ristorantelamadia.it). Nearby, L’Oste e il Sacrestano is much more down-to-earth; a family-run trattoria serving simple, home-made pasta, straight-from-the-sea fish dishes, and a wide-ranging selection of Sicilian wine (+39 09 2277 4736). In Agrigento, Spizzulio is a lovely little wine bar with more than 300 different bottles in its cellar, as well as lots of local cheeses and cured meats (+39 09 222 0712).

+ Enlarge
Coast into country

Azienda Agricola Mandranova

S.S. 115 - Km 217 92020, Palma di Montechiaro, Agrigento, Sicily, 92020

Planes

Flights from London Stansted, Brussels Charleroi and Rome Ciampino arrive at Comiso Airport (www.soaco.it), which is a 90-minute drive from the hotel. The hotel is also two and a half hours from the airports in Catania and Palermo. From Catania, Etna Transport (www.etnatrasporti.it) runs buses to Licata, which is 25 minutes from the hotel.

Trains

The nearest train station is in Licata, a 20-minute drive from the hotel. It’s possible to get to the Italian mainland without leaving your train; the carriages simply load onto a ferry across the Strait of Messina. See Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com) for train times and prices, but railways don’t cover the whole island.

Automobiles

The hotel is along the E931, 40 minutes from the city of Agrigento and three and a half hours from Etna National Park. There's valet parking. You can pick up a hire car at Comiso Airport.

Reviews

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Azienda Agricola Mandranova Hotel – Sicily – Italy

Anonymous review

by Benji Lanyado , Budget-travel blogger

There’s an Italian restaurant near my house that comes with its own ‘Shakey Hand Man’. Few things better symbolise Italian hospitality; his sole job, it seems, is to greet visitors with a warm handshake and a beaming grin. It makes you feel happy. Likewise, as we roll up the drive of Azienda Agricola Mandranova, our hotel in Sicily, a gentleman approaches us with a beckoning grip…
Read more

Azienda Agricola Mandranova

Anonymous review by Benji Lanyado, Budget-travel blogger

There’s an Italian restaurant near my house that comes with its own ‘Shakey Hand Man’. Few things better symbolise Italian hospitality; his sole job, it seems, is to greet visitors with a warm handshake and a beaming grin. It makes you feel happy. Likewise, as we roll up the drive of Azienda Agricola Mandranova, our hotel in Sicily, a gentleman approaches us with a beckoning grip and the kind of magnanimous smile that provokes almost instant soppiness. We discover he is Giuseppe and I get a sudden urge to ask him to be my uncle.

If I had a pound for every hotel I’ve Googled upon with a guffy line exclaiming ‘home away from home!’, I wouldn’t be a journalist any more. But this Italian retreat nails it. It’s the smiling Giuseppe upon arrival that sets the tone, letting guests know that they matter. Although there are a handful of other cars in the drive, variously hired at Catania or Palermo airports, we can’t see anyone else.

One of the perks of the Mandranova’s semi-isolated location on Sicily’s southern coast is the obligatory adventure en route. Italian motorways are some of the best in the business. While other roads dip and dive tracing the undulation of the land, here they follow a remarkably level course. At various points you find yourself careering into mid-air supported by gargantuan pillars as the parched Sicilian countryside sprawls beneath you. Moments later you are ploughing through mountains, emerging on the verge of dramatic escarpments coated with terraced vineyards. We get rather carried away. The basic directions instruct us to turn left somewhere near the southern coast. Mesmerised, we opt for an hour-long, three-point turn around southwestern Sicily.

And when we arrive… that smile. Giuseppe takes us on a brief tour of this magnificent farmhouse property. Blanketing the hefty acreage are thousands of the olive trees that yield Mandranova’s prize-winning oil. Whereas other corners of this island can seem scorched and lava-scarred, here there is an almost lush richness. The farmhouse is the centrepiece; an imposing white-walled building staggered in height and arranged with a distinct geometric beauty – a softer take, perhaps, on the ancient Parthenon at Agrigento, half an hour to the west of the property.

Our tour ends abruptly when we reach the swimming pool. Perched above the hotel on a hill, it is dug from the rock around it; a natural water storage tank inherited from the Moors. From here we can see the farmhouse poking above the landscaped foliage sprinkled around the pool. Beyond that, cascades of olive groves amble down hillsides in glorious non-uniformity, framed by craggy peaks and soft cambers – the Sicilian countryside has the beautiful ability to roll and jut almost simultaneously. We notice the sun making a break for the horizon, and then notice a couple deckchairs by the pool. Guiseppe, you’ve been great, but we must loaf. We fetch a bottle of fruity Bacca Rossa red from the house, the first of many, and recline with happy grins on our faces.

As the evening arrives, Mandranova’s guests begin to loiter around the stone patio next to the farmhouse. They know what’s coming. Us newbies get involved, and chat gamely with about eight others, lolling around wicker chairs and wrought-iron tables adorned with candlelit lanterns. If you ever need an indication of taste, lighting is the giveaway. This hip hotel has got it. A selection of trees around the terrace are beautifully spotlit from their lower trunks, and golden yellow beams of light soar from the base of the farmhouse, dissolving as they reach the upper storeys.

Giuseppe drifts from table to table, charming pants off. His English has an almost lyrical quality. His favourite word is ‘beautiful’, pronounced ‘bee-yoootiful’ in the manner of a pining sigh. Half a dozen tables are laid out in front of the house, with waitresses dipping in and out of the amber glow of the interior dining room, distributing twinkling goblets on the tables. When the guests settle down for dinner, tables are shuffled together, and it starts to feel like a dinner party. We are with a honeymooning couple and a middle-aged pair who say ‘cool’ a lot.

And then the scoop. Giuseppe might be the face of the operation, but his wife Sylvia is the mastermind, plotting a gastronomic tour de force from the kitchen. First up is perfectly al dente thin penne in pesto. Next is swordfish baked and basted to disintegrate on your tongue. Almost everything is lubricated with the best olive oil I have ever tasted, borne of trees a few hundred yards from our tables. I could drink the stuff neat. Then chocolate cake, subtly spiked with chilli for a gorgeous, light heat. And, of course, lots of wine. Giuseppe and Silvia’s two teenage sons help serve up. Predictably, they are both dreamboats, studying economics in Palermo when not matching Silvia recipe for recipe. Take them home to your mother. The family and guests josh and chat and get drunk. It really does feel like you are having supper at a friend’s rather spectacular house.

Our cups runneth over, and we retire to bed. Like the rest of the hotel, our room isn’t ostentatious, instead it is charming and elegant in a very simple way; buzzspeak would have it as ‘rustic chic’. Old wooden doors open onto restored majolica floors under beamed ceilings. Tiled showers with superb rainfall heads. Crisp stucco walls and cherry-wood beds. That’s the secret formula. A grinning Giuseppe upon arrival, ceramic tiles and exposed wood, tastefully illuminated trees, perfectly al dente pasta. Italian hospitality at its best: simple things done very, very well.

The Guestbook

Reviews of Azienda Agricola Mandranova from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Everything exceeded our expectations! We loved the excellent, simple, rustic food coooked by Silvia, the owner of Mandranova.We stayed on site for the duration of our stay (4 days/nights) as the food was so good and the pool area was so relaxing.

Don’t expect

WiFi is only available between 9-11am each morning, but I think that's a bonus as it encourages you to relax and to switch off your phoneemails.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved everything! The estate is beautiful, the rooms (bedroom and public) are perfect for relaxing, the food is excellent, and the swimming pool is divine. Really reasonable value, especially for dinner and excellent local wine. In all honesty we could have stayed on site for six days without a bother, but we felt that we needed one day out to see the Valley of the Temples and to explore Licata.

Don’t expect

Some may say that facilities are limited.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel was fantastic – beautiful setting, fantastic food, kind service by Silvia and Giuseppe. The rooms were very nice and the location was convenient for relaxation at the beach or access to local sights.

Don’t expect

The shower seemed very small to me. Also, asking for a drink in the afternoons or evenings felt a little awkward to me – I had to go into the kitchen to bother them. Everyone was very nice but to me it still felt like you were interrupting them.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a fantastic place – the perfect mixture of sleekness (think Tuscany meets Napa Valley) and homeliness (the owner Giuseppe and his wife and colleagues are experts in treating guests well). I couldn't recommend it more.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hosts were welcoming and friendly. The food was excellent, fresh and gourmet standard. The atmosphere was sophisticated and elegant. It would be very difficult to fault this property or the management or staff.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Mandranova is a fantastic place to learn to cook superb Italian food prepared by resident cullinary genius Sylvia, slathered in Mandranova's own delicious olive oil, and then to enjoy the food with your fellow guests on the terrace in a really sociable and welcoming environment.

Don’t expect

More information about what to do in the area in the bedrooms would be nice, although everyone at Mandranova is more than happy to help out whenever you ask.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I liked the fantastic location, close enough to Agrigento's temples but quiet and peaceful, as well as the relaxed but stylish environment, nice garden and swimming pool. There's very good food – Sicilian dishes with natural flavours – and engaging, kind, interesting and helpful hosts.

Don’t expect

The rooms' functionality could be improved.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The location of the farm was truly idyllic. Sylvia and Giuseppe were really good hosts who made us feel welcome and part of something special from the start. The food was so good, we ate at the farm all three evenings we stayed (and had lunch there) – excellent value and wonderful, local produce. The swimming pool is a real draw thanks to the scenery as you go for a dip.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

This is a beautiful place, calm and relaxing. We had a lovely room in the Railway house, simply and tastefully decorated with a comfortable four poster bed, air con and a good shower room – a haven from the fierce sunshine. The pool was small but deep and beautifully situated with plenty of loungers. The gardens were well landscaped with lots of shady trees and sitting areas, and it was a delight to be surrounded by olive groves. Our hosts, Giuseppe and Silvia, were exceptional. They really were passionate about what they were doing and really looked after all the guests. Silvia cooked fantastic four-course meals every night, and we really enjoyed staying in at the hotel for meals. We were there for eight nights and all the meals were great, and different. Silvia is a great baker, too, and we had some delicious cakes and pies, and breads for breakfast. The building is stunning, and it felt like we were guests at a beautiful house rather than an impersonal hotel. The staff were all friendly and helpful without being at all intrusive. Giuseppe gave us a talk about their work as olive farmers, which was fascinating – and the olive oil is wonderful. All the guests meet for dinner in the evening, and if you want to be sociable there is plenty of opportunity but it is also quite comfortable if you dont want to. We were fortunate to meet several groups of really nice people. The prices were exceptionally good value.

Don’t expect

It was pretty perfect, actually. The only things, if I were being picky, are firstly a larger sign on the gate, and secondly (because I like swimming) a bigger pool, but otherwise I think it is a remarkably high quality and consistent experience delivered by a team that care hugely about getting it right for their guests. We did have a few problems with Sicily, however, which others may be interested to hear. The road signs are very poor and inconsistent so it is easy to find yourself where you don't want to be, and then hard to find your way back to the right road. Some local drivers can be dangerous, overtaking constantly – on the brow of a hill, round a bend – and behaving very aggressively; a nightmare in towns. They seem to assume that no one will be coming in the opposite direction! The roads are relatively empty but driving in Sicily can be an unpleasant experience. If you are getting a car from the airport, such as Catania, do not arrive on a Saturday night in the summer because it is chaos – a queue of 99 people and no extra staff. And, the same thing happens every week!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The welcoming hosts, fantastic food, beautiful gardens and terraces, and amazing pool.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The house, the setting, the atmosphere and, most of all, Sylvia's cooking – she is amazing. Guiseppe was a wonderful host, and the olive oil is the best we have ever tasted; we have already placed our first order!

Don’t expect

We felt the outdoor seating and the pool furniture could have beem a lot more comfortable, and needed cushions; the sunbeds, etc, looked fabulous but being made of hard plastic were uncomfortable for anything longer than a short while.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The style. The hospitality. The views and location. The olive oil and food. The Olive tour with Giuseppe. It is superb!

Don’t expect

Not a lot. The only thing: the shower in our room was very, very small. But, this was due the the shape of the bathroom. It would not put me off going back at all.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The welcome by the owners, Silvia and Giuseppe, was wonderful, putting us instantly at ease. The property is out-of-a-magazine perfect. Wine and food was superb. I took the opportunity to take a cooking class with Silvia, where we made lunch for the hotel guests. It was well worth it for all those who would like learn more about Sicilian cooking.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The property is fantastic and the design of the villas is beautiful. The landscaping has been well thought through, offering plenty of room for guests to have some privacy or to mingle. The hosts are delightful and very hardworking – they ensure that the meals are good and that guests are well looked after. It's more like a home than a hotel. We met some fabulous people who were also passing through.

Don’t expect

Our room, Fico, had a very small bathroom and the shower cubicle was marginally bigger than a postage stamp. Not good for a pregnant lady! Cooking course was good although a bit ad hoc. It could do with a more formal structure and some pre-printed recipes.

Rating: 10/10 stars