In the past 30 years, intrepid winemakers have put Mount Etna on the map. Europe’s most active volcano is now home to 180 wineries whose whose mineral-rich wines tantalize and delight. And just a short drive from the Catania airport, Taormina and the coast, this Sicilian hotspot is the perfect escape for a long weekend. Discover our favorite boutique wine hotels on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Mount Etna’s high altitude and soil composition provide fertile ground for producing some excellent sparkling wines. If you’re a fan of bubbles, you can’t miss booking a stay at Firriato’s Cavanera Etnea, a wine resort where you can taste the estate’s 12 labels, including Gaudensius produced in three classic method styles. A family-owned brand with 6 estates in western Sicily, Firriato understood the potential of winemaking on Etna ahead of many of its peers and began to produce wine in the territory back in the 1990s. Set across 11 hectares, the Cavanera Etnea estate grows native Sicilian varieties and is home to rare, pre-phylloxera vines that are over 150 years old.
Located on Mount Etna’s highly prized northern slope, the estate features a heated, saltwater swimming pool and charming bedrooms set within an ancient palmento – traditional stone wine pressing basins which were used to make wine. Cavanera Etnea is Italy’s first carbon neutral winery and is recognized for its bio-architecture. Old lava flows have been converted into aging rooms, natural materials ensure thermal insulation and all grapes are harvested by hand.
Furthermore, in partnership with the local Pennisi family who operate several renowned dining establishments in the area, Cavanera Etnea offers tantalizing dishes to accompany its gamut of wines. La Riserva Bistrot, a modern restaurant with a large outdoor terrace overlooking the vineyards, serves dishes like fettucine with white beef ragù with juniper berries and provola cheese, and pork tenderloin with licorice and sweet chili. Cavanera Etnea also offers a number of wine tastings guided by Firriato’s talented sommeliers: opt for the Eruzione tasting which includes tastings of 5 wines with a 4-course lunch pairing for €55.
Located halfway between Catania and Taormina along the eastern coast of Sicily, Zash Country Boutique Hotel has a strategic position for exploring the area. Originally a family farmhouse converted into a boutique hotel, it’s a stylish escape for travelers who appreciate design-led properties immersed in a natural setting. The estate is beautiful surrounded by 13 hectares of citrus groves and perfectly framed views of Etna from the slopes of the volcano.
Historic architecture, like lava stone walls and vaulted ceilings, have been restyled into sleek suites with private patios, plunge pools and floor-to-ceiling windows that provide a seamless integration with nature. With volcanic activity visible from one side of the estate, and the glittering Mediterranean Sea on the other, the property’s 17 rooms don’t seek to compete with their surroundings. You’ll find clean lines, neutral hues and sunlit rooms in the manor house and surrounding cottages. It’s well-suited for couples who look for an intimate atmosphere and romantic stay with a focus on wellness and relaxation.
The historic winemaking palmento (wine cellar) hosts the property’s 1-star Michelin restaurant helmed by chef Giuseppe Raciti. Recognized as one of southern Italy’s leading young chefs, Raciti innovates on traditional Sicilian cuisine in dishes like an oversized egg tortello with caciocavallo cheese, black cherry and cacao nibs, or spaghetti with raw langoustine, star anise bisque and local oranges. Wine lovers will enjoy the perusing the cellar filled with dozens of leading Etna labels, and wine tastings can be arranged to provide an overview of the territory.
Tenuta di Fessina
Tucked just behind Etna’s historic Circumetnea train line, Tenuta di Fessina is a bijoux boutique hotel in the middle of all the action on Etna’s northern quadrant. The seven rooms and villas are set within a 17th century palmento and each had its own historic function: you can sleep in the former vinification room, or opt for the old cistern which supplied water for the farm. Lovingly designed by owner Silvia Maestrelli, Tenuta di Fessina’s spaces are marked by exposed lava stone walls, mod-ish furniture and traditional tiles, capturing the many identities of Etna and the Sicilian lifestyle through its curated aesthetic.
At the heart of the property lies a large, open space dining room with a panoramic terrace that overlooks the estate’s century-old vines. Guests can enjoy a decadent breakfast on the patio, and taste Tenuta di Fessina’s elegant organic wines beside the fireplace in the living room. A few standouts have received Gambero Rosso’s 3 Bicchieri awards, including the Etna Bianco A’Puddara, made from 100% Carricante grapes, and the Etna Rosso Erse Contrada Moscamento 1911, made with 100% Nerello Mascalese grapes.
With its intimate, low-key atmosphere, Tenuta di Fessina is ideal for couples or extended family vacations. It doesn’t have a restaurant but its close proximity to towns like Linguaglossa and Solicciata provides plenty of great dining options within a 10-minute drive. The gourmet Shalai Restaurant is specializes in innovative Sicilian cuisine, while the hip Cave Ox pizzeria and bistro is where Etna’s winemakers hang out after work.
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Set on a sprawling 60-acre farm at the southeastern slope of Etna, Monaci delle Terre Nere is a discreet hideaway that lends itself to retreats, weddings and family vacations. Part of the Relais & Chateaux brand, it has an infinity pool, treehouse and playground for children, wine bar and restaurant. Monaci delle Terre Nere is committed to sustainability and Locanda Nerello celebrates Sicily’s slow food movement, serving seasonal fare from the property’s 100 different fruit and vegetable species. Look out for dishes like wild fennel risotto, with oven-backed olives and orange peel and Mediterranean albacore with cherry tomatoes, capers and aromatic herbs.
Rooms and suites are scattered throughout the estate which also includes a handful of stand-alone villas that can be reached by the hotel’s golf cart service or private car. The Monaci Villa, with its own private garden and infinity pool, is outfitted with contemporary Italian design furnishings and even an ancient lava flow that is incorporated into the walls of the living room – adding a touch of drama and history to the bright, modern space.
The estate’s wines are produced under the label of its owner Guido Coffa who began producing wine when he purchased the property in 2007. Five labels are produced with native grapes, while the velvety U’Ranaci features a blend of 70% Grenache and 30% Nerello Mascalese. In addition to wine tastings, Monaci delle Terre Nere has designed several experiences for its guests, from pasta making classes and vineyard walks, to horseback rides and luxury sailboat rides along the coast to Taormina. Wellness is also a focus of the hotel and guests can enjoy vinyasa yoga sessions, lava stone treatments and ayurvedic massages.