Nearly all of Italy’s best hotels are located in historic buildings, with backstories that run the range from the grand and glittering — palaces on the Grand Canal, lavish country villas in Tuscany — to the downright humble, the urban apartments transformed into boutique hotels, and the old tobacco factories turned into all-suite getaways complete with spas and wine cellars. Mangiabove Guesthouse fits into the latter category. Located right on the beach in the southernmost part of Sicily, the sandy-colored stone building doesn’t look like much from a distance: that’s because the building was a simple farmhouse for most of its existence.
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After admiring the place for years, a local family snapped up the property, lovingly restoring the house and its adjacent horse stables into an exquisite eight-room guesthouse. Modern amenities and modular furniture abound, but there’s still a down-to-earth feel here; the exposed stone walls and vaulted ceilings remind you of the building’s past. So do the names of each of the eight apartments: Fuoco (translation: “fire”) is located in the old farmhouse kitchen, its walls still blackened by smoke, Paglia (“straw”) used to be a barn, Giara (“jar”) was once the store room for olive oil, and so on.
All of the apartments have lovely sea views, and some have their own fully equipped kitchens, ideal for whipping up an early morning espresso. But all guests also have access to Mangiabove’s welcoming Sala Comune, a cozy living room warmed by a fireplace and featuring a coffee bar, library, and open-air patio. There’s also an honesty bar, should you feel moved to fix yourself an aperitivo, and a small gourmet food shop where you can pick up locally produced cheese and wine. You can even pick your own sun-ripened tomatoes from the guesthouse’s garden.
There’s plenty of outdoor space to enjoy these pleasures. Mangiabove Guesthouse sits on a natural terrace, the rocky landscape rolling gently down to the sea; there are several shaded lounge spaces to choose from, not to mention a heated infinity pool. You could rent a bike and pedal around Marina di Ragusa, or drive to one of the many attractions — beaches, forests, volcanoes, World Heritage Sites, Greek theatres, ancient temples — within easy distance. No one would blame you for hanging around the hotel all day, though. It’s that kind of place. Go ahead, open another bottle of Nero d'Avola: to quote an old Sicilian proverb, there’s always room for one more.