House under the Olive Tree
House under the Olive Tree is a typical Sicilian house only steps from the beach near Cefalù in Sicily.
I wanted to create a retreat where guests could regenerate while also being immersed in the historic centre of Modica.
What is the story behind the property, what was your inspiration to create it?
Around 15 years ago, I lived in Ragusa, near Modica, and fell in love with the place — its views and the Baroque architecture. So I decided to renovate spaces in the historic centre that were largely abandoned. I liked the idea of being in touch with the heritage while also creating places that offered privacy. I was personally committed to the design and renovation projects and my properties are the result. This property is tranquil and in a secluded location.
All of my houses are rented for the exclusive use of our guests, with the two in Modica around five minutes’ walk from one another. They offer a great base for discovering Sicily’s cultural and natural attractions, as well as its food and wine experiences.
How would you describe the atmosphere and interior design of Amine a Sud’s properties?
I have a degree in environmental engineering from Bologna, so I renovated each of the spaces with attention to sustainability and using ecological materials. I also paint and sculpt, with my approach to renovation a lot like sculpting - the removal of what is useless to find the original soul and allow it to shine again.
All three spaces combine antique features with local materials and artisan crafts, as well as having contemporary amenities and artworks. I would describe them as bespoke-designed properties. I want them to reflect contemporary tastes while being strongly and deeply connected to the soul and poetry of the place.
To you personally, what is so special about Casa del Giardino?
Casa del Giardino is surrounded by stone walls that predate the destructive earthquakes Sicily experienced in the 17th century. I fell in love with its Mediterranean garden planted with citrus and pomegranate trees. I wanted to create a retreat where guests could regenerate and be in touch with nature while also being immersed in the historic centre of Modica.
Casa del Giardino is a multi-level property with three bedrooms that can accommodate up to six guests. You enter from the garden and on the ground floor are two ensuite bedrooms, one with a double bed and the other with a circular bed. The third bedroom is upstairs and faces a terrace looking out across the cathedral.
In the living space are traces of the old windows and artisan stones from the original structure while the kitchen has an island bench. From the kitchen, you can go down to the wine cellar, which occupies what was once an underground water system. The property also features a terrace garden planted with orange, pomegranate and olive trees, plus a dining area with a barbecue and a jacuzzi.
We like to offer our guests the opportunity to taste Silician wines, so I select small organic or biodynamic wineries and provide a selection of bottles that guests can purchase from the on-site wine cellar. On request, we can also provide chef services, cooking classes and guided wine tastings, as well as event catering and gourmet tastings featuring produce from local artisan stores.
Transfers and private guides can also be arranged, as can personal shopping to have the kitchen stocked with groceries before guests arrive. Massage and wellness treatments are also available and in Modica, we offer chocolate tasting.
If you’re staying in Modica, be sure to visit some of the other Baroque towns nearby, such as Noto, Scicli and Ragusa. I’d also recommend a visit to Donnafugata Castle.
If you’re a fan of the TV series “Inspector Montalbano”, you can visit many of the places that are featured in the show. For beach life, I’d head to Sampieri, which boasts a long stretch of sand backed by sand dunes and the ruins of an old brick factory. You can have lunch in the fishing village or dine at the beach clubs in the summertime.
Casa del Giardino is located in upper Modica, very close to the Cathedral San Giorgio and within walking distance of markets, bars and restaurants. There is free on-street parking around five minutes’ walk from the property, so you can drive to Lower Modica if you don’t want to negotiate the hilly streets on foot.
The closest beaches are around 15 minutes’ drive from Casa del Giardino, as are the Baroque towns of Ragusa and Scicli. In 45 minutes, you can be in the Vendicari Nature Reserve on the coast of Syracuse or in Cavagrande del Cassibile. Modica is a very good base for exploring southern Sicily.
It really depends on your tastes. If you love beach life, you should come between June and September while keeping in mind that July and August can get quite crowded. March, April, May and October, November are great times to visit if you want a quieter experience.
I quite like being in Sicily during the low season, as the temperature is mild and it’s very tranquil. You can walk along the beaches and explore the tourist attractions while having a very private experience.
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