The Sicilian Experience

  • Guests who came recently

    August 2016

    Stunning Santa Maria.
    Our experience at Santa Maria was breathtaking.
    Upon arrival we were in awe of the impressive stone building, we passed through the beautiful courtyard and into the Santa Maria villa itself - which was absolutely stunning in every way possible. Nanette, our host was on hand to welcome us to the villa, she was most helpful throughout our stay.
    We spent our days in the Italian sunshine, lounging by the superb pool, surrounded by the heavenly gardens. We sampled the local delights, eating scrumptious gelato in the town and visited the neighbours (The Gazzerosse Vineyard).
    Our time at Santa Maria was absolutely perfect - a dream come true.
    Paul J. UK

    July 2016

    A very special place to rent for a holiday.
    We all loved staying in Santa Maria - the accommodation is part of a very special family house - completely private with sole use of a fabulous swimming pool and lovely tennis court (once the sun has gone down!). We saw some of the sites of Western Sicily including Selinunte, Segesta, Sciacca & Marsala, along with the odd very lovely restaurant - but on the whole we so enjoyed the return to Santa Maria and its peaceful surroundings - so beautiful and constantly gave us the feeling of getting away from it all. I hope one day we will return.
    Louise S. UK

    July 2016

    A wonderful week in a glorious Sicilian villa.
    The villa was perfect for us, a family of seven - 3 young adults and partners and the older parents. The villa was beautiful, spacious airy rooms which kept cool in the heat of the day. We spent our rest days at home (after very active ones seeing the amazing sights). Long breakfasts in the garden with refreshing lemon juice made with lemons from the garden. Keeping cool in the pool and sitting under the trees beside it. In the evening when it was cool enough there were tennis matches. The gardens, villa and pool were all lovingly looked after and very beautiful. The kitchen was very well equipe, which meant we could have some amazing food at home. We were very welcomed by the owner's sister in law, who lives on the top floor of the castle. She was always on hand to help. We had a fantastic week and this amazing place is highly recommended by all of us.
    Anna P. UK

    August 2015

    A wonderful stay in Santa Maria...
    Fabulous villa, pool, tennis court and gardens. While there are family members living above we had complete privacy. The villa was presented as described and very clean and well maintained. Any problems were resolved quickly by the on site managers of the property living above. It is hard to leave the villa but great sightseeing to be had in Western Sicily ... For historical sightseeing Selinunte is a must with well preserved Greek ruins against a coastal backdrop. The north west coastline for breathtaking scenery and fabulous beaches and the national park...Castellamare was our particular favourite ancient coastal town and the nearby picturesque hamlet of Scopello with stunning views and great swimming. We would thoroughly recommend Santa Maria as the perfect relaxing retreat in an ideal spot for sightseeing.
    Marcia C. UK

    July 2015

    Our stay in Santa Maria was everything that we had hoped for. It was so hot that we didn't venture out much and loved spending lazy days under the olive tree by the pool, with tennis once the temperature eased a little in the evenings. When we did go out, there were many restaurants to choose from in nearby Mazara and we enjoyed day trips to Selinute and Erice. The property is beautifully maintained and it was very reassuring having Nanette and Silvio on site to welcome us and to help if required.
    We would happily recommend the property.
    Pamela C. UK

    October 2014

    How trite does the word "magical" seem to describe this place? Yet the Villa transported us and there seems to be no other word to describe it. We lived the dream for a week and discovered a corner of the world untouched by tourism, raw, tranquil and animated, all in one. This is a slice of Sicily where history oozes from the stones, yet quietly. The Villa is elegant, comfortable and aesthetically fabulous, with a library to dazzle (and I would need to book a few years to read even an eighth of the collection), a cook's dream kitchen along with all the best cookbooks, to boot. We relaxed indoors as well as out: the gardens are diverse: a citrus grove, tennis and pool grounds, and olive trees as well. We were fortunate to arrive during the olive pressing season and enjoyed the experience immensely. Finally, a word about our hosts: Nanette and Silvio, Caroline and Marcello: what a difference it made having you to book choice restaurants, provide insight on this or that winery, archeological site, or town to visit. Need I say more?
    Shelley H. Canada


    As you enter the castle courtyard the scent of jasmine transports the senses to a world of calm. The house is beautifully decorated and well appointed.The stunning Mediterranean garden and pool area allow for true relaxation. The nearby town of Mazzara full of charm and great restaurants plus the incredible local historical sites make Santa Maria a perfect holiday haven.
    Dinah B. UK

    August 2014

    After two weeks, Santa Maria had cast a spell on us and we didn't want to leave.
    If you're looking for peace and quiet this is has it. The villa and gardens are set a long way back from the quiet country road; it was an event if we faintly heard a couple of cars pass during the afternoon. Yet it is also convenient; minutes to the motorway from Palermo (also largely deserted) and even nearer to the supermarket.
    Santa Maria itself lives up to the description and photographs; it feels more like you've walked in to a film set than a holiday home. The accommodation is beautifully decorated and history seeps out of the walls. It so spacious that walking from one end of the ground floor to the other qualifies as your daily work-out!
    The kitchen was well equipped and the air conditioning was essential during August (blue skies, 30-35C every day and mid 20's C at night). The wireless Internet also kept up with the demands of the four of us (our kids consider it a human right of course); 7MB ADSL with a WIFI router is better than many places back in the UK.
    Nanette and Silvio live on the floor above and couldn't have been more kind, helpful and unobtrusive.
    The grounds are beautifully landscaped and well kept. The pool is large enough to hold a small sailing regatta and surrounded by a luxurious green lawn; a remarkable feat which stood out in contrast to the brown olive groves glimpsed through the trees. Add to that the walled citrus grove, the courtyard and the tennis court and it became a struggle to find a reason to venture beyond the gates.
    Mazara is well off the tourist trail; whilst the outskirts are slightly unpromising the historic centre has many interesting squares and facades. San Salvatore is everything you could want in a baroque cathedral and well worth a visit.
    The seafront promenade comes alive in summer evenings after about 8:00pm with plenty of places to eat and drink, but it never felt crowded or overrun with tourists. Also, Granitola is a 15 minute drive down the coast and a lovely place to sit drinking coffee and overlooking a small rocky cove and the azure sea beyond.
    We took trips out to Selinunte, Erice and Mozia - all fascinating places, again not overrun with tourists and giving us a nice slice through the history of Sicily. We're not early risers, but each is near enough that you can easily get there and back before the afternoon heat really kicks in.
    I hope we are able to visit Santa Maria again soon.
    Ian L. UK

    July 2014

    Santa Maria is full of character in a beautiful setting. It is well equipped, clean, spacious and very private. Clean, good sized pool and tennis a bonus for us. Lots of great restaurants in Mazara del Vallo and plenty of places of interest to visit in relatively close proximity. Would recommend and will return.
    Helen B. UK


    We loved this fantastic historic house with its very tasteful furnishings and equipment. Delightful and spacious grounds including the best ever swimming pool and a perfectly situated tennis court with shade throughout much of the day/ Although clearly old, the house was spotlessly clean and very comfortable. The outside eating area was charming under the orange trees and freshly picked lemons were an exotic treat! The owners were immensely helpful and accommodating, especially when the water supply was lost for the best part of half a day (hence only 4*)! The area is fascinating. Selinunte and Cava de Cusa are must see's and Favignana in the Egadie Islands, where we hired scooters and snorkelled, a really fun day out. Mazara is a great place to find terrific and good value food. Cycling the local lanes is a good option Would definitely go there again and recommend it to anyone.
    Tracy L. UK


    Our family of four spent a week at Villa Santa Maria and came away refreshed and rested. It is a large spacious 17th Century villa with high ceilings and beautifully decorated and furnished rooms. We didn’t use the tennis court as we are not sporty, but the pool was wonderful. We alternated between days out to see ancient Greek and Roman ruins and fascinating Sicilian towns to lazy days in, relaxing, reading and swimming. The villa was so well equipped and my husband prefers to cook so we ate in each evening. It was fun to explore the local supermarkets and although English was not widely spoken everyone was very friendly and willing to help. The information provided by the owners is extremely comprehensive and covers everything you might need to know about the villa itself and the surrounding area, including restaurants and places of interest. The air conditioning in each of the bedrooms was very welcome at night and during the day it was nice to sit in the shady orange grove. You only have to read the guest book to realise that everyone who visits Santa Maria is charmed by it.
    Julia M. UK

    April 2014

    We had a wonderful time at the Villa Santa Maria! It has a unique quality of elegance to it that you must treasure. I am so lucky that we found this beautifully restored and carefully maintained vacation place. I think my husband now wants to have his very own Sicilian orange tree orchard! And it is situated for so many day trips. We saw Erice, Segesta and Selinunte, which I would highly recommend. Also, we experienced thoughtful and kind customer service. I hesitate to say customer since it felt more like friends. I would highly recommend this property, especially for those travelers who are looking for a special place which can afford them some sense of the culture and charm of Western Sicily
    Sandy B. USA

    November 2013

    Magic moments – waking up from the singing of the birds, the distant bark of a dog, walking over cool, polished tiles to the kitchen, opening the shutters along the way, letting the light pour into the house, welcoming the day. The sweet scent of the bright blossoms in the orange grove and courtyard, breakfast and dinner in the garden, lazily stretching on the sun beds by the pool, the kids swimming and diving, not hesitating to jump into the cool water after the tennis. Happy, laughing kids exploring the beautiful house, gardens and surroundings. Kilos of fichi d’India, fish, sesame bread, the freshest of vegetables. A glimpse of the authentic Sicily – fish market, the way of driving, beautiful nature, bright colours and foreign scents. Selinunte, Mazara, Marsala, Le Saline, Favignana, Erice, Trapani port, Palermo pleased both the adults and the children. A truly unforgettable location!
    Astrid B. Germany

    October 2013

    We had a lovely, relaxing week at Santa Maria. It’s such a beautiful location and building. We enjoyed the tennis and the pool and our girls particularly enjoyed the sessions hitting with Massimo. The restaurant recommendations were very useful – we’ve fallen in love with Sicilian food that we all agree is far superior to northern Italian. Caroline’s book was perfect reading for the holiday – what a great insight into family life – we’ll be waiting for the sequel. Last but not least, Nanette was so helpful and kind – she made our stay very comfortable. We’d love to see the place again.
    Rosie B. UK

    September 2013

    Spectacular villa, beautiful grounds and wonderful pool. We came to Sicily for a major celebration and it couldn’t have been a better place to be. I wanted to have the birthday dinner in the villa’s dining room and, thanks to Nanette, it happened – eggplant parmesan, pasta, fish, fruit and a fabulous birthday cake made for a very special evening that I will never forget. One of the best things for us at the villa was feeling like we were characters from Il Gattopardo, living the life they would have lived if they had inhabited Santa Maria. We will return one day and this special week will always remain in our hearts.
    Dale C. USA

    Thank you very much for your hospitality and kindness during our short stay. It was our first trip to Sicily and the villa and Mazara was a great base. We enjoyed trips to Selinunte, Scopello and Erice and look forward to returning another time. Thanks to Nanette for a great meal on arrival and the recommendation of La Bettola for our 30th wedding anniversary.
    Chris I. UK

    August 2013

    We absolutely loved Villa Santa Maria. It was so wonderful to stay in a beautiful home rather than a purpose-made holiday rental. We appreciated the space, the beautiful pool and tennis court, the uniqueness of the gardens. Mazara is a fascinating town and it was nice to be off the beaten track a little. We had a wonderful holiday and don’t want to go home at all.
    Juliette T. UK

    We have had a lovely lazy week here enjoying the beautiful villa and gardens and spending many hours at the fabulous pool. The tennis court has also been a huge bonus. We have all enjoyed playing and feel that our shots have improved. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.
    Stephanie J. UK

    What a beautiful week at Santa Maria! The house, pool and grounds are beyond our expectations. It was hard to get ourselves out to do our planned excursions! Nanette was very nice and helpful. Another pleasant surprise was Mazara Lungomare and the inside piazza night action!
    Stella S. Canada

    July 2013

    Thank you for a wonderful week – beautiful house, great pool and tennis court and sharp knives! It’s been lovely to return here after a hot day out and enjoy dinner in the citrus grove. We’re very tempted to come back!
    Judith W. UK

    We have had a lovely, relaxing half-term break at Santa Maria. We have enjoyed tennis and swimming, freshly squeezed orange juice and lemonade from the citrus grove. We loved Selinunte and enjoyed the exciting unpredictability of Sicilian driving, not to mention Caroline’s book, Casa Nostra.
    Julie R. UK

    May 2013

    Today we are very sorry that we have to leave this wonderful villa. We feel like the Dutch royal family staying in their Italian castle. We really enjoyed the beautiful house and grounds with swimming pool and tennis court, but above all the citrus garden, which smelled so lovely especially during the evenings. We toured most of the interesting sites and towns in the west of Sicily and also a day trip to Palermo. The location and environment of this truly family house was a perfect setting for us. We hope to come back.
    Fritz Z. Holland

    It is a hard goodbye to Santa Maria. We had a wonderful three weeks here. The house is beautiful and spacious and the whole family loved roaming the grounds. Our littlest ate almost all the oranges in the orange grove. The older ones loved the pool and tennis court as well. We all had such a fun first visit to Italy. Hopefully we will return to Santa Maria soon.
    Meegan H. USA

    April 2013

    We have enjoyed our stay in this beautiful house and reading Caroline’s book, Casa Nostra while here made the holiday even more memorable. Log fire on chilly nights and at the end of the week the sun came out and we got sunburnt at Segesta.
    Lucia H. USA

    September 2012

    We had a wonderful week staying at the Villa Santa Maria and were thrilled with the beauty of the villa and gardens. It was extremely spacious for 6 adults with every comfort and really exceptional decoration and furnishings. The pool and surrounding area was delightful and very clean. The tennis court was great fun and we played until the light faded. We visited the wonderful Selinunte - what a fabulous place. We also loved the old town of Marsala and of course the local town of Mazara with the super La Bettola restaurant. However, the real star of the show was Santa Maria itself, which was such a pleasure to return to after a hot day out and about. Enjoying a gin and tonic with a slice of lime straight from the tree in the garden as the sun went down was one of the simple things that made the holiday so special. Caroline was extremely helpful and efficient at the time of booking, providing lots of information and advice. We arrived late in the evening and were greeted by Nanette, who was very kind and always on hand if needed. We would thoroughly recommend Villa Santa Maria to anyone looking for a truly beautiful retreat.
    Jeanette C. Suffolk

    Such a beautiful home, by far the best we have stayed at in terms of interesting architecture and the generous grounds. Tennis and swimming dominated early days when the sun shone strongly with sightseeing in the latter part of the week. Our minds were expanded by joyous visits to Selinunte and Segesta and of course to Agrigento. We also loved Erice, even though we were in the clouds for much of the time – bring a brolly – enjoy the cable car. Many memorable meals outside enabled all 8 of us to return home well rested and the richer for having visited this side of the intriguing island.
    Neil T. Devon

    August 2012

    Spent a scorching two weeks mostly swimming, playing tennis, sunbathing, reading, playing cards and drinking Limoncello. We did venture out to Selinunte and Tre Fontane but decided the ideal place to spend our holiday in Sicily was right here in the beautiful tranquil surroundings of Santa Maria. The villa has everything a family could need and out time here has been memorable. Even if you never venture outside the gates you cannot fail to enjoy Sicily when staying here.
    Lisa F. London (age range 6 to 66)

    Many thanks to Caroline and Nanette for all information before and during our 2 week stay. We are now, as sentimental French people, very attached to the villa and the garden around the swimming pool where we spent many long hours.
    Marianne J. Paris

    July 2012

    We returned last night from a glorious week in your wonderful villa. We all wrote our thoughts in the guest book, but I wanted to be sure that you knew just how much our two families cherished our stay. The photographs of Santa Maria on the web site are great, but the actual experience of staying there was even more magical. We had spent a wonderful but hectic week in Rome prior, and Sicily and Santa Maria were a perfect respite from city life. We especially appreciated your thorough directions and advice in the pre-arrival documents as well as the "Villa Bible", which was indispensable. We managed to take trips to Selinunte, Eraclea Minoa (our favourite beach by far), Segesta, and Agrigento all in one week. The layout of the house suited our group so perfectly -- the common rooms truly provided boisterous family meal time and the bedrooms afforded perfect privacy. The weather turned quite hot (100 Fahrenheit most days), so the pool was a lifesaver. We are all avid cooks, and the kitchen allowed us to take advantage of the local produce and fish. And as a designer and artist, I wanted to add just how much I admired your choices of colour and interior decor throughout the house. And we all had fun perusing and admiring your fantastic library! Please thank Nanette for us, too. She was very open and helpful.
    Ana B. California

    We had such a wonderful time here with our family and dear friends. Your home will remain among our dearest memories of Sicily. I was so excited to come here after reading your book. But being here was much more than my best expectations!
    Love your book collection.
    Camilla D. F. Switzerland

    We stayed in Villa Santa Maria in late July/early August 2012 with our three small children. We got a booking due to a late cancellation though we only realised later how fortunate this had been. We've stayed in plenty of holiday rentals and have become accustomed to getting less than expected. Villa Santa Maria surprises to the contrary with everything surpassing expectations. The villa and grounds are splendid. Each room is beautifully presented and the gardens are a feast of scent and colour. The house is very well provided having just about everything needed for the stay while the pool is gloriously situated. We could easily have spent the week just rambling in the grounds and thumbing through the huge volume of books in the library. Our kids were thrilled by the many secret corners and hidden delights, while the provision of a high quality baby chair, cot and lots of toys for the pool was a great help. The nearby town of Mazara is also a surprise with plenty of layers of interest and a real hubbub after dark.
    John F. London

    June 2012

    A fabulous villa set in tranquil vineyards, coupled with a fascinating glimpse of the island’s history has made this a unique holiday. It is such a beautiful home, full of interesting touches. We especially loved the library and were captivated by the story of “Casa Nostra”. We were delighted with our sighting of the amazing hoopoe bird on the grass by the pool. Special thanks to Nanette who was very kind and helpful during our stay.
    Martin I. England

    October 2011

    As leader of our varied party aged 3 months to 84, I had reservations! But this has been a brilliant holiday. A week has been relaxing, refreshing and a taster for my intended return.
    Sarah H. Wales

    I have loved the library, beautiful spaces within and outside the villa, scent of orange trees, pines and the shrubs around the pool. Thank you for your very warm welcome and for taking such care to give us the best of holidays in Sicily.
    Sue G. Pembrokeshire

    September 2011

    A truly memorable holiday in a beautiful home. It made Caroline’s book come to life and it was fascinating putting all the pieces together. We are now totally relaxed after spending many happy hours round the pool.
    Gary H. England

    I hate to say this but this villa has made the ones we have stayed in before and will stay at in future seem second rate. It will always stay strong in our memories. I especially liked our blue bathtub.
    Judy C. USA

    August 2011

    Santa Maria is a wonderful place to stay in especially if you really need a good relaxing holiday. The house is very well equipped and very attractively done. We loved eating our breakfast out on the orangery every morning and listening to and looking at the birds, especially the bee eater (as we were told). The pictures of the pool do not give it justice: the surrounding garden has grown and is quite beautiful with the backdrop of the amazing Italian fortified home. Our children loved having all of the space and gardens to be roaming around in. We found the people in Sicily to be wonderful and so welcoming especially with children. We did a lot of snorkelling with the children on Marinella beach and Zingaro Reserve, visiting the archaeological sites is an absolute must. The food is delicious and I would highly recommend trying the arancini, the seafood is exceptional, don’t miss the Mazara fish market. Santa Maria is a special place; we really enjoyed it so much. Our little one has told us she does not want to go back to London and would much rather stay here.
    Louise B. London

    Easter 2011

    We couldn’t have wished for a more magical introduction to Sicily. Santa Maria is indeed worth writing a book about. We have felt like privileged guests at a unique home. Some of the highlights of the week have been spent climbing over the ancient ruins of Selinunte, Segesta and Agrigento. If Rome is the eternal city, Sicily is the eternal island. Our children loved Santa Maria especially the massive baths and squeezing their own orange juice for breakfast - from oranges they picked from the orange grove outside, playing tennis, relaxing under the shade of the trees in the orange grove. We would have spent more time in the villa except that the weather encouraged us to explore further afield. We thought it a great base for exploring as well as being a luxurious haven for relaxing after one or two strenuous outings. A great introduction to a fascinating island.
    George O. UK

    June 2010

    We chose Sicily as a holiday destination as my children, now 21, 19 and 14, wanted pasta, pizza and Italian ice cream. In addition, we all wanted to go somewhere none of the 5 of us had been before. We are fond of islands, love the beach, and the kids wanted their own swimming pool and tennis court...hey presto... the Villa Santa Maria! I should point out that my husband and I have very stressful jobs, and we wanted somewhere quiet where we could relax and unwind. In general we are not keen on hotels or holiday villages/parks where we have little privacy and -in the nicest possible way-have to put up with the rest of the world! So, we were impressed with the look, feel and sight of Santa Maria from the first time we saw the picture in the brochure. The owner replied to my emails very promptly, and we generally felt confident we were on to a winner. We were not to be disappointed. The first sight of Santa Maria is quite awesome. The pretty driveway lined with tall trees and bougainvillea makes an impressive entrance. The building itself resembles an old castle, and is set within a beautiful tropical garden. Once inside, the internal courtyard is stunning, with an old well in the centre and hung with brightly coloured geraniums. The large apartment we stayed in has been charmingly restored with much attention to detail, beautiful marble and floor tiles, very tasteful decor and antiques. The kitchen is well equipped and we produced sumptuous pasta dishes on a daily basis, which along with local tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, was food fit for a king! The kids were in heaven! Outside the tennis court is superb. My two boys played for hours every day, with their father when he could stand the heat! The swimming pool is wonderful. Quite long enough to swim good lengths, and deep enough for jumping and diving in the deep end. The big olive tree provided perfect shade from the midday sun and several long, seriously competitive games of scrabble! We didn't venture out very far. The supermarkets were fine for our needs, and not as expensive as France! We ate out twice in the local town, and had excellent food and wine, with friendly waiters, keen to discuss the UK's disastrous performance in the World Cup in pigeon English! It was incredibly hot, and we greatly appreciated the fans, and the use of the air conditioning, something often not available in other houses we have rented. I highly recommend Santa Maria to all wanting a peaceful, happy holiday!
    Deborah S. UK

    Feedback from guests who came out of season

    This holiday was one of the best we ever had. We felt like people from the middle ages! The castle is amazing and the rooms have some beautiful furniture. We enjoyed everything, playing tennis, swimming in the pool and in the sea and eating in the restaurants in Mazara. The sun did shine all the time, which we from Germany enjoyed particularly.
    Marius B and family (October)

    A wonderful beginning to the year in Sicily. Such a fabulous house in a beautiful setting, the garden ablaze with oranges and clementines. Fantastic visits to see temples not to mention wine-tastings…
    Dinah and John B, London (January)

    Guests of mixed ages

    There are not so many holiday homes that are so beautiful, peaceful and easy to run as Santa Maria and we have enjoyed our week immensely here For a mixed age group from 3 to 70 it was just right, what with the garden, the tennis court, the lovely pool and the games in the library - everyone was happy! Congratulations on the transformation of the ground floor, and on your book Caroline, which I really enjoyed. Thank you. I would really love to come again.
    Ann D. Ireland

    Younger visitors

    I love this house. It is like a Paradise! I hope we can come her again soon. The Moracken Bath is Beutiful.
    Roxana F (9)

    The villa is wonderful, one of the nicest places I've ever stayed at. It feels like the time has flied by and I wish we could stay longer. Particular highlights of my Sicilian holiday were the Greek temples of Selinunte and the fab ceramic shops in Sciacca. Thank you for a wonderful holiday. Loved the pool and tennis!!
    Laura L. (13)

    Thank you very much for the fabulous holiday here! I really enjoyed the stay including the fantastic pool! The week was unforgettable. I admired the house. The marble floors were extremely elegant. The showers were great too, especially the blue tiled one. While I was staying here in Santa Maria, I often thought to myself how similar it was to staying in a palace (not that I've ever stayed in a palace!)
    Lalage L. (9)

    Guests who came back

    Our first stay at Santa Maria was in 2007 with our two teenage daughters and we all had such a wonderful time we vowed we would return. We have just returned from our second stay in June 2010, this time with our younger daughter, now 21, and a posse of her friends. I must admit I was a little worried that my memory might have become rose tinted in the intervening years since our first visit. I shouldn't have had any doubts because everything was just as wonderful as it was on our first visit. The house and its gardens have a lovely relaxing atmosphere, and there is so much space that you can escape if you want to. Nanette is there when you need her which is very reassuring. We enjoyed having the opportunity to read extensively, there are enough books in the house to keep you going for the longest of holidays, swim, play a little tennis and explore the area again, especially Selinunte, Segesta, Eraclea Minor where we discovered a lovely little restaurant down on the beach and for the first time Mozia. It is just a shame we had to come home and return to work.
    Jo P. England

    We first came to Santa Maria 2 years ago and were delighted by the peace and tranquillity we found. It is indeed an excellent base from which to explore Western Sicily, assuming of course one could be prized away from the pool area or just sitting and listening to the “local wildlife” or indeed just eating, as Sicily's cuisine is “par excellence”, whether you are a fish lover or an ardent carnivore. Caroline Manzo's book “Casa Nostra” is a delightful read and helps you to dip your little toe into the culture and ethos of Sicily and its Sicilians.
    Vincenza C. London

    This is the second time we enjoyed Santa Maria in the last week of October. The spacious beautiful house is a hit with the children. As is the tennis court and the swimming pool. Pleasant temperatures, sunshine, while Britain becomes wet and cold. Nearly every day we drove down to the sandy beach next to Marinella, enjoying the sun and the sea. We also had a lovely time in the old town of Mazara and frequented the local family run & very family friendly pizzeria for its lovely starters, pizzas and pasta dishes. I am sure we will be back again. My best memory this year is picking a lemon for the morning pancakes from a tree a few meters from our table amidst the orange grove.
    Erik M. & family, London

    Half term in Belgium and our family is back again for the third time. This is our third visit in May and Santa Maria and its surroundings are as lovely as before. Thanks to Nanette and Silvio for making us feel so welcome.
    Sibylle G. Brussels

    Guests who appreciated

    The kitchen

    The house itself is ravishing. First and foremost everything works! It is decorated in a way, which lends an air of comfort, of coming home. It is cool and relaxing. The bathrooms are a joy and the kitchen, if you cook, which we do, is out of this world. We often ate outside on the terrace sitting underneath the orange and lemon trees with lanterns suspended from the trees lighting our supper table. Heaven, after a long day out.
    Tom A. London

    “Caroline, thank you so much. We had a wonderful holiday in your beautiful house. The kitchen was so well equipped, lots of recipe books, sharp knives, pans etc. We enjoyed your music tapes and CDs and the well-stocked library. I needed at least another month to discover everything! Your notes were really helpful. Directions worked and your advice good, especially the butcher. The house is lovely - wonderful proportions and clever bathrooms. We much appreciated the welcome pack and the supermarket shop. It was good to have time to unwind before having to worry about food shopping. We had a lovely holiday in your beautiful house and hope to return one day.”
    Sophie S. London

    The library

    We have spent a peaceful week in this splendid villa. Alternately dozing in the bee-haunted and scented garden or visiting nearby historical sites. Many thanks for a memorable holiday. P.S. Don't bring books. The library is an eclectic joy.
    George S. UK

    The pool and the tennis

    We've all had a fantastic and relaxing holiday enjoying the amazing house, pool and tennis court. The local scenery is beautiful and we all enjoyed going to Selinunte and the local beaches. The weather has been good and we have all relaxed and taken in the culture of Sicily. Thank you Nanette for looking after us- we've had a great time.
    Caroline W. Scotland and England

    The atmosphere of the villa and grounds

    We had a wonderful week exploring Sicily and Santa Maria was a highlight. The beauty of the house and grounds, the palpable sense of history and the hospitality of the Manzo family enriched our experience tremendously. We look forward to visiting again!
    The Kirklin family USA

    Here just for a week and wish it was six. So much unexplored, so many good experiences to contemplate or imagine for some other day. But the best thing was the fuel strike, which confined us to base for two full days, so we could enjoy without guilt the wonderful things that Santa Maria offers by itself. The pool, tennis court, grounds, orange trees, cards, kitchen facilities and cornucopious library. All were enjoyed for preciously memorable family holiday, as guests in a beautiful home. P.S. Santa Maria marmalade... scrummy!
    The Willis family, Yorkshire

    Thank you for a fabulous week in this beautiful house – we loved the marble floors, archways, the orange grove and the smell of jasmine at night. Our three children adored the pool and dived into the library too. Thanks too to Nanette in particular who was very kind and helpful and organised a lovely meal for us. We have had a fabulous time exploring Selinunte, visiting the satyr and wandering the streets of Mazara. But it has been hard to tear us away from just relaxing in this lovely house.
    McLaughlin family, New Zealand

    Following a very easy one hour drive from Palermo Airport, our party consisting of six adults arrived at the beautiful Villa Santa Maria. It was like stepping back into history, the majestic buildings, the quiet courtyard behind the massive door, the spacious rooms, and the secluded Orange Grove. The accommodation was beautifully decorated and furnished, and the kitchen was certainly very user-friendly - with some basic provisions awaiting us, including a bottle of the family's own label wine! Outside, in the huge garden area, a splendid new tennis court with - only a gentle lob away - the swimming pool where we spent many a happy hour. A couple of very good supermarkets well stocked with fresh produce within 5 minutes drive made eating in (actually, out, as we always dined outside in the lantern-lit Orange Grove) very easy.
    The Buckley family UK

    The sights, the beaches and the weather

    Santa Maria was both a marvellous and comfortable oasis and an excellent base from which to explore the local sites. We were extremely fortunate with the weather and high points were the splendidly evocative ruins of Selinunte looking out to sea and the nearby beach of Marinella.
    Peter and Jo M. UK

    The weather was perfect, blue skies and no rain with temperatures in the high 20's or low 30's every day. Just what we needed after a miserable August in the UK. We would certainly recommend Villa Santa Maria for a holiday with a marvellous combination of peace-and-quiet, tennis, swimming, and some beautiful sightseeing without the added pressure of a busy tourist area.
    Gillie B. UK

  • Some recent feedback about Santa Rosalia

    June 2016

    Our fantastic week at Santa Rosalia.
    From the very first moment (arriving late and tired) Nannette welcomed us warmly and we were immediately struck by the spaciousness and ambience of the villa. We were delighted by the villa's decor and we felt in a holiday mood from the very beginning.
    The private pool gave us hours of endless pleasure and we loved the villa so much we rarely ventured far. There were however several trips into Mazara for dinner and a day at the beach.
    There is plenty of good quality baby equipment and cooking facilities - including 2 BBQs (which we made good use of).
    We couldn't have asked for a better holiday and would highly recommend a stay there.
    Barbara S. UK

    May 2016

    Adults and children relax in this amazing setting.
    We have jus. returned from a wonderful week staying at Villa Santa Rosalia with children aged 4 and 6. The villa was spacious, clean and tidy and set within beautiful surroundings of olive trees and vineyards. The pool was cleaned daily with easy steps access and warm enough so that the kids both really progressed well with swimming. Our 6yo could stand in the shallow end. The owners Caroline and Marcello were interesting, friendly and welcoming and always available to help with any questions or directions and to take the kids to pick oranges from their orchard for fresh juice. The villa is well situated on the outskirts, but within 5 minutes of the historic centre of Mazara del Vallo (interesting historic centre to explore) and good places to eat. There is plenty to keep both children and parents interested and happily occupied for a week whether it be building sandcastles on lovely beaches (within 10 minutes), to the incredible ancient Greek ruins of Selinunte with its breathtaking views above the ocean or a boat visit to the Island of Mozia (more incredible Greek ruins) all within 45 minutes. Santa Rosalia offered the perfect place to both relax and explore and we would love to return.
    Steve G. UK

    September 2015

    From our first communication with Caroline everything about our stay at Santa Rosalia was hassle free. Caroline was prompt in responding to all of our queries and went out of her way to make sure we understood everything with regard to our stay. Our experience at Santa Rosalia was even more than we could have hoped. We were greeted by Caroline's family who kindly made us feel very welcome. We were shown around the villa and all we needed to know to make our stay comfortable was explained by Nanette and Silvio. Shortly after arrival, bedrooms sorted out, we were all relaxing around the gorgeous pool in the warm afternoon sun. The location was superb. Secluded and quiet, surrounded by beautiful trees and aromatic gardens the villa takes on an almost magical quality. Wonderful grocery stores nearby and Mazara del Vallo a ten minute drive away. Day trips to historical sites a convenient drive away, awesome beaches and wonderful restaurants filled our time. I have to say that the highlight of the holiday for me were the many hours spent at Santa Rosalia out at the pool, making wonderful meals from local ingredients in the beautiful kitchen and sitting around the outside dining table spending quality time with my family and friends. I will be returning soon and hope to make this a yearly family event. Many, many thanks to our hosts Caroline, Nanette and Silvio.
    Simon K. UK

    July 2015

    We arrived at Santa Rosalia in mid June. It was an easy drive from Palermo airport and easy to find Santa Rosalia, just outside of the pretty port town of Mazara del Vallo. Santa Rosalia is a haven of peace and tranquility with the only other house in sight being that of the owners next door, but completely separate and barely visible. The garden was full of flowering bushes trained into standards, fig trees dripping with figs and well as marmalade orange and lemon trees (the owners left delicious jars of marmalade for us to try). Outside the front door were two hedges of rosemary that filled your senses when you walked out and were delicious on roast potatoes. The pool is surrounded by fragrant lavender and was cleaned every morning and was lovely for swimming or sitting and reading. The house is very comfortable, spacious and clean. We loved all the books, an eclectic collection, many about the history of Sicily and one about the history of the house and the Manzo family written by Caroline. The beds and mattresses were great and we all slept very well. We had one disabled person in our party and she was able to get around easily in the house and garden and slept in the downstairs bedroom. We had very few problems with the house, but when we did they were dealt with immediately. Our only wish was that the kitchen was had better lighting as we spent a lot of time cooking, but we loved the window from the kitchen to the outside dining area, that allowed us to pass out food and drinks. You can get fresh bread every morning from one of the many bakeries in Mazara del Vallo and the most delicious local fruits and vegetables that are very inexpensive. Our main disappointment was in the restaurants. We are a vegetarian family and it was difficult to find veggie options at many of the restaurants, particularly since pizza was “off” at lunch time, or out of season, even at pizzerias! The owners recommendations were far more reliable than those of trip adviser!! Mazara del Vallo is a perfect location for visiting western Sicily. This area is quieter and less touristy than other parts, but nevetheless there are incredible wonders to be visited within 90 minutes easy driving. These include the ancient temples of Selinunte, the temple quarry at Cave di Cusa that was abandoned during the building of one of the Temples because of attack by the Carthaginians, the salt pans of Trapani and ancient ruins of the Island of Pantaleo.
    Malcolm B USA

    June 2015

    Santa Rosalia is an idyllic villa set in beautiful surroundings, perfect for a peaceful family holiday. We recently returned from 10 days at Santa Rosalia. Our party included myself and my husband, both early 30s, plus our 7 month old and our friends, of a similar age, with their 10 year old son, 9 year old daughter and 10 month old son. When we arrived, we were completely overwhelmed at the size of the villa and gardens and amazed to learn that we had the whole space all to ourselves. There was more than enough space for all of us and no danger of feeling cramped or living on top of each other. The villa and pool were well maintained, with the pool cleaned every day, bedsheets changed and a light clean of the villa during our stay. Nanette, who lives next door, kindly waited up very late to greet us on the night we arrived and was extremely helpful and kind throughout our stay. Caroline, the villa owner, was so helpful before our visit. This was our first holiday with our son so I had lots of questions and she patiently answered all of them! Cots and highchairs were provided for the babies and there is a built in stair gate to stop any little escapees. We spent most of our days at the villa enjoying the pool. The main focus of our days was discussing what to have for dinner and then sourcing it – in true Sicilian style! However, I know there is a lot to discover locally and on our next visit – we will definitely be back! – we’ll set about exploring a bit more. A wonderful setting for a quiet, calm and very relaxing family holiday, we are all looking forward to returning again soon!
    Emily F. UK

    May 2015

    We had a great stay at this lovely family villa, well equipped for little ones and toddlers. Caroline was really helpful in the booking process and arranged for a small shop to be ready and waiting for us upon arrival, which was fantastic. There is plenty of room indoors and outdoors, and the pool is a great spot to hang out in the sunshine; clean, well maintained, with plenty of comfy seating. Within 25 - 45 minutes drive we found some beautiful beaches to visit, hopefully we will be back one day to explore more!
    Gemma S. UK

    August 2014

    Nine of us stayed at the Santa Rosalia, comprising of two families with children ranging from 3 through to 16. What a fantastic place, plenty of space, beautiful grounds and the swimming pool was used on a daily basis by children and adults! The villa is spacious, clean and superbly equipped with everything you could possibly need (I went home with clean washing thanks to the washing machine!!). Ideal location should you wish to use it as a base to explore the beautiful island or alternatively just relax by the pool. Nanette and Sylvio were fantastic whilst we were there, meeting us at the villa despite a late flight arrival and arranging for a food shop to keep us going until we could reach a supermarket. Caroline's book is fascinating and the advance tips provided regarding the area, places to eat etc was really useful to help plan the holiday. Cafe Garibaldi is a must visit for food in the town, two lovely Italian ladies with little English but must welcoming and even my limited Italian was sufficient to enjoy a beautiful meal. Highly recommended, we will be back!!
    Annie P. UK


    The property was as described on the website, spacious, comfortable and in a peaceful rural location, but not far from Mazara. It suited the seven of us (three generations) very well. The bedrooms and bathrooms were all of a good size and the downstairs could easily have accommodated a larger party. The kitchen was roomy and well-equipped. The fenced, salt water pool was a hit with everyone. There were plenty of sunloungers and space around the pool for sunbathing. The surrounding garden with olive and fruit trees was well-maintained and charming. We could look out on to it from the shade of the vine-covered pergola in front of the kitchen window. This is where we ate most of our meals. My husband and I investigated the nearby towns and sites, while the young family headed for the beaches of Tonnarella, Tre Fontane, Granitola and Marinella. These were busy, but then we had chosen the week which included the national holiday of Ferragosto (many shops etc were closed on this day). Caroline's house information pack was very helpful and included suggestions for trips and restaurants. I know that Nanette would have given us more help and advice had we needed it. She and Silvio were most welcoming (we arrived very late) and it was reassuring to have them on hand, especially as we managed to lock ourselves out of the house. I started reading a (house) copy of Caroline's book and found it interesting, giving fascinating details about Sicily in general, as well as about the house and the Manzo family. I have ordered a copy so that I can finish the story. I would especially recommend Santa Rosalia/Santa Maria to anyone who values a peaceful and spacious location. PS. Santa Maria olive oil is DELICIOUS!
    Jane L. UK

    August 2013

    We have had a wonderful week, great house, great pool and wonderful fruit in the garden. We’ve made interesting trips to Motya and Selinunte – nice ferry boat trip to Motya. Hours and hours of pool fun had by all. A wonderful atmosphere attached to the house and grounds.
    Miranda C. UK

    August 2013

    We have spent three beautiful weeks at the villa. We really appreciated finding everything we needed for our stay when we arrived. The house is really nice and the large pool was appreciated by everyone. Sicily is so big that we were only able to see less than a third of it. We recommend trips to Segesta and Palermo, even if the latter is a bit far away, it’s certainly worth the journey. Silvio and Nanette welcomed us and were charming and always ready to help. It’s been a magnificent experience for us to have discovered Sicily.
    Anne-Marie C. France

    July 2013

    We have spent a marvellous, lovely and relaxing week at Villa Santa Rosalia. We came here from Balestrate via the temple of Segesta and although there are many more temples to see, we have spent most of our time by the pool!
    Hans S. Norway

    July 2013

    Thanks for a lovely week here at Villa Santa Rosalia. We are two families from Norway. Both the four children and the four adults have had a very relaxing and nice stay. We have spent many holidays in rented villa in Italy before and this is by far the cleanest house we’ve ever been to. Everything is in top shape, great garden and nice clean pool. Nanette has been so friendly and the house had everything we needed when we arrived – coffee, filters, dishwasher soap etc. Thank you! The restaurant recommendations in the handbook were superb and we especially enjoyed “Osteria Pizzeria Scopari” great fish and seafood and fantastic friendly staff and chef. We have enjoyed the beaches south of Mazara at Tre Fontane. Selinunte is great to see and the town of Marsala. We could easily have stayed one more week and we would love to come again.
    Kari-Anne S. Norway

    May 2013

    Thanks for a wonderful and relaxing week at your comfortable and spacious villa (much bigger than it looked in the photos on the internet). The pool was beautiful and the children loved it. All the little touches such as dvd player, laundry and washing up liquid, plastic plates and cups etc. made a holiday with children so much easier. Thanks to Nanette for her advice and for being so friendly. We also found the villa handbook very useful and I very much enjoyed Caroline’s book, although it did make me hungry. Thanks again for a truly enjoyable holiday.
    Wendy A. UK

    September 2012

    We stayed at Santa Rosalia at the end of August and the first 4 days of September. We were very grateful to Caroline to let us stay the extra few days, as we couldn’t squeeze in a 2 weeks holiday. The villa was as others say spotless, very spacious and perfect for relaxing either under the olive trees, in the pool or in the evening under the pergola barbecuing.. Our 2 teenage children enjoyed the villa very much and appreciated the internet link! We loved being very near to all that we needed in Mazara but in the peace and quiet; we used a number of the owners’ recommendations which were very useful and explored a little but just soaked up the wonderful Sicilian culture.
    Sally M. Middlesex

    August 2012

    Santa Rosalia is ideally situated in northwest Sicily for day-trips to a variety of destinations. We went scuba diving and snorkelling at Scopello, visited temples at Agrigento and Selinunte and took a ferry to the lovely Egadi Islands where we hired bikes and chose our own beaches and rock-pools to swim from. The house itself has a dining area just outside the kitchen, shaded by vines, and the garden has pomegranate, fig and lime trees. The pool is a blessed distance from the house - easily visible, but far enough for you to feel that you are having some childfree time. The real charm of the house, though, is provided by Caroline's book, Casa Nostra, a chronicle of her relationship with the house and the tumultuous fortunes of the once-wealthy Sicilian family which own it. With tales of massive family parties, the intricacies of buying the freshest fish from the market to the annual labour of making vats of homemade tomato sauce, the book imparts a sense of what it is to be Sicilian. Caroline's sister-in-law, Nanette, is the perfect person to welcome you - quiet, warm and extremely helpful. We didn't need much help but it was good to know that she and her husband were nearby. We booked a cooked supper for our arrival, a delicious traditional Sicilian dish which kept us going through lunch the next day as well.
    Emma R. London

    July 2012

    I have just come back from a fantastic and relaxing stay at this villa. The owners made us feel very welcome and the accommodation worked really well for the two toddlers. The house was spotless (very important to my wife) and the pool was very clean, good for children and in a beautiful setting surrounded by countryside. The local town had some fantastic restaurants and beaches and only a short drive away from many other Sicilian gems. The owner and her sister in law had provided us with invaluable printed information on everything we needed, which was far superior to any guides. I would stay there again when I visit Sicily without a doubt.
    Karim B. London

    A beautiful house, a wonderful pool, such happy memories for all of us especially for my 4-year-old son who learned to swim underwater here. The children loved running around in all the space.
    Alice A. London

    June 2012

    We are sad to be leaving Santa Rosalia having had a wonderful stay here. The children have revelled in the swimming pool, the sheer space and the many lizards they have spotted and we have greatly appreciated being off the tourist trail. Information provided by Caroline, including her book, has given us an insight into the area, the family and the house, which has greatly enhanced our stay here. We have ventured out to Selinunte, Segesta, Erice and Scopello, where we spent a couple of nights to take advantage of the fabulous beaches and we undertook a very enjoyable snorkelling trip into the Zingaro Nature Reserve, which was a highlight for all of us. Thanks to Nanette for her very helpful tips. She has made us feel very welcome. It has certainly felt a very special place to be and we came away with some wonderful memories.
    Claire E. London

    And from before we put in the pool, painted the villa pink and changed the name to Santa Rosalia

    My husband, my daughter, her boyfriend and I stayed at the enchanting Casa Nuova for one week. My only regret is that we did not stay longer. There is so much to say about this lovely property and its equally caring and amicable owners. Large spacious bedrooms (with screened windows-- what a plus!) a wonderful patio to spend the evenings eating, enjoying a bottle of wine or two and listening to the wildlife, and spotting a gecko or two or three. A huge bonus-- very large family style kitchen where 4 people can cook simultaneously and not get in each other’s way. The views from each of the upstairs rooms are at once breathtaking and peaceful. All THREE bathrooms are extremely large and well appointed-- the Villa overall is very clean and orderly. The surrounding areas of Santa Rosalia and the beaches are magnificent. On top of it all, Sicily is an extremely cost-effective place to spend a vacation. Coming from Switzerland, everything there seemed so cheap!! Don't forget to read the history of Santa Maria and Santa Rosalia while you are there. The book is written by the owner Caroline. The whole family, including our Jack Russell Springroll thoroughly enjoyed this simply enchanting and magical place.
    Carol G. Lausanne July 2011

    Our experience at Casa Nuova was just what we had been looking for, and I would recommend it whole-heartedly. The house is spacious, airy, attractively furnished and immaculately clean. The kitchen is well equipped, there is enough hot water and good water pressure in the bathrooms (and powerful hair dryers!) and the outside eating area is lovely. The villa is also incredibly easy to access -- the very well maintained A29 leads almost directly to the house, and there is so much to see nearby. We enjoyed day trips to Selinunte, Segesta, Erice and San Vito Lo Capo and the town of Mazara is nearby for lively restaurants in the evening. What makes the villa exceptional however, is the care and attention provided by Caroline, the owner, and her sister-in-law Nanette. Caroline responds quickly to any inquiries and has clearly put a great deal of thought into making the house comfortable for guests. Nanette is so helpful and such a comfort to have nearby. She was never intrusive, and was very thoughtful (going the extra mile to leave some breakfast in the house when we arrived very late, for example). She was always available next door or by telephone for anything we needed. We stayed in two other villas this summer subsequently and found ourselves constantly comparing them, always referring back to our wonderful experience at Casa Nuova...
    Claire J. London August 2010

    We had a great holiday in this very roomy and comfortable house, an annex to the main house but very private. We are a family of five and the house worked very well, with lots of space inside and out, and was a good base for an exploration of the western part of Sicily. Mazara was nearby for shopping and an interesting place for visits, but the amazing Greek ruins at Selinunte (and a nearby beach restaurant afterwards) were a major highlight an easy drive away, and the north coast at Castellamare and Scopello was only 45 minutes on the fast and empty autostrada. Spring in Sicily was as warm and green as we had hoped - we swam in the sea (a bit). It made a real difference for the whole of our stay to have some quite detailed guidance from the owners on the locality, things to do and see, places to shop for food and restaurants to try. Even more, when we came towards the end of the holiday and were affected by the Icelandic volcano chaos, it was a huge help to have part of the Manzo family next door to ask for advice. They could not have been kinder, while at the same time there is complete privacy should you want it.
    Nina P. April 2010