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    Four Seasons San Domenico Palace, Taormina

    Opened in July, this iconic property in the pretty town of Taormina is steeped in historical significance—it was a convent in the 14th century, and a hotel since the late 19th—and now brims with all the elements of a lux vacation on the Italian island of Sicily.

     

    Location:

    This historic property uses its location in Taormina and close to Mount Etna to its advantage: There are jaw-dropping views of the Ionian Sea from its clifftop setting and it’s just a 5-minute stroll to Corso Umberto, the town’s bustling main street, but still feels like a secluded and private hideaway. It’ll take about an hour to get to the property from Catania–Fontanarossa airport and just over three hours if you’re flying into the airport in Palermo.

     

    Vibe:

    Ever wanted to stay in a convent from the 14th century? While this property—which first opened as a hotel in the late 1800s—is a bit different than when nuns called it home, it still retains tons of old-world charm. With gardens recently renovated by Italian landscape architect Marco Bay, the vibe is elegant and understated with a nod towards history and, with its art offerings, a true embrace of beauty. You’ll find 111 rooms, including some suites with terraces. To truly take advantage of the Italian summer, consider one of the 19 rooms with private plunge pools. Or, go all out in the signature 1500-square-foot Royal Suite, which they describe as “perched on the top floor to provide the most sweeping views of the sea and the Greek theater.” (Sounds magical to us!)

     

    Why We Love It:

    Start with the historical significance of the hotel—then add in the art and an amazing dining experience, and you’ve got yourself a true Italian experience without ever even leaving the property. (Though you should do that, too—but we’ll get to that.) Let’s start with food: There are four unique dining and drinking spots on the property, including Rosso for dinner against the backdrop of Mount Etna, and Anciovi for seafood specialties or a cocktail. But it’s the signature Principe Cerami, under the helm of the executive chef—and Sicily native–Massimo Mantarro, that truly steals the show and elevates already-incredible Sicilian food to a whole new level. As far as art goes, there are some stunning things to see, including restored frescos, artifacts from its founding, as well as a curated collection of paintings and sculptures. Rounding out the experience are highlights such as the infinity pool overlooking the Ionian. When you’re ready to venture out, after you check out the beautiful town of Taormina itself, try an excursion to the nearby Aeolian Islands: The hotel can arrange for a helicopter ride to the island of

    Panarea, before you board a yacht to the island of Stromboli for a nighttime view of flowing lava.

     

    Why You Should Go F1RST:

    If you book through F1S, you’ll receive a daily breakfast buffet at Rosso restaurant (or a daily American breakfast through in-room dining), a $100 resort credit if booking a room or $200 if booking a suite, as well as a room upgrade if available, and more.

     

    F1S Tips:

     

     

     

    There are so many amazing experiences at this property to try that delve deep into the history and culture of the region. Two great choices: Book a 4×4 and get up-close-and-personal with Mount Etna and its volcanic landscape. Or, head to one of the nearby family-owned vineyards, for lunch and local wine.

     

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