House under the Olive Tree is a typical Sicilian house only steps from the beach near Cefalù in Sicily.
How would you describe Casa Talía in a nutshell?
In the baroque city of Modica in Sicily you’ll find Casa Talía, a group of individual houses that make up a beautiful small bed & breakfast. It is an intimate, authentic Sicilian oasis where every room is unique and tastefully decorated. You’ll be near the sea, under a blue sky with views of Modica like out of a painting; it is the perfect surrounding for slow living and days full of quiet and relaxation.
What was your inspiration to leave Milan and open a Bed & Breakfast in Sicily?
My wife and I once organised a workshop for architects in Tuscany. We thought about place, hospitality and food. For us, it was a good opportunity to experience how nice it is outside of the big city.
Then, in 2001, we came to Sicily for a summer holiday. It was a coincidence that we came to Modica, but we ended up spending 15 days here, forgetting everything else. We were really impressed and fell in love with the city.
My father is Sicilian, from the north of the island, so when I arrived here, I felt a real connection with Sicily. My wife and I began by buying just one room, and every time we came back to visit, we purchased another. After eight months, we had bought 12 different properties.
So both your wife and yourself are architects?
I graduated in architecture, but my job now is to display design for products and furniture.
My wife works as an architect and specialises in restoration. So for her, Casa Talía was a great place to show off her work.
To you personally, what has been most rewarding about running Casa Talía as a B&B?
My life has changed a lot. Here at Casa Talía, I work 24 hours a day, but at the same time, I am in a place of holiday and get to spend time with people who are usually very happy and relaxed.
My life is much better than before. I live near the sea and every day I can see the blue sky and the sun.
What is the food like in this part of Sicily?
Everywhere in Italy, but especially in Sicily, there’s a different food tradition. The best part of the traditional food of Modica for me are the legumes, the ricotta cheese, which is amazing, and the vegetables from the countryside.
The restaurants are very well priced too — they don’t have tourist prices — and there’s organic food everywhere.
What is a traditional dish from Modica?
There is a special cake only found in Modica called Empanada. It looks like big ravioli, but is sweet and has chocolate inside. Actually it’s a mix of meat and chocolate, but you don’t taste the meat at all, only the chocolate. They use sugar as a traditional way of preservation, so you can eat these cakes 15 days later and they’re still good.
And, of course, gelato, granita, and other sweets are everywhere.