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Palazzo Previtera; A perfect retreat on the slopes of Mt Etna

Posted by Suzanne Turrisi on 31 Oct 2023


Palazzo Privitera: a Sicilian aristrocratic feel, art and a garden to wander

Two nights at the mid-17th century Palazzo Previtera ('a museum and luxury bnb') were nowhere near enough. Sitting along a quiet backstreet of Linguaglossa -one of Sicily’s lovely lava towns- Palazzo Previtera is a historic and gracious bed and breakfast with hints of an aristrocratic Sicily and an understated luxury. The main section of the palazzo is a private family palazzo- all unmistakably Sicilian.

It has an undeniable charm, a friendliness and ease; a large rambling mediterranean garden, an uninterrupted view of Mt Etna, a partially draped shady pergola, garden furniture for lingering, gravel pathways which signal the footsteps of aproned breakfast staff, church bells are heard ringing out and staff sweep garden paths and water by hand. To stay...there are three rooms plus two cottages. I enjoyed the space and charm of the Ophra suite.

It was mid September, summer lingered, the days were warm with cool mornings and evenings.


Palazzo Previtera facade along Via Dante Alighieri, Linguaglossa. Numerous wrought iron balconies.

Internal courtyard through iron garden gates

Entry Palazzo Previtera, 1649 from Via Dante. Traditional lava stone village colours. Built as a summer house.

Looking to the internal set of entry doors

Aristocractic charm...the entry room/hall

The old family dining room now vibrant blue, is the entry room to the Ophra suite

The Garden

A rambling, hidden mediterranean garden made for retreat, discovery and quiet wandering beneath the slopes of Mt Etna...lotus plants, grapevines, hibiscus, olive trees, oleander, kiwi vine, jacaranda, jasmine, chairs and pergolas and open skies.

Pure enjoyment.

Canine bell at the wrought iron entry to the  garden

Grapevines looking to one of the churches of Linguaglossa

Courtyard with an old well -the water is used for the garden

Lava steps and dappled September light

Kiwi vine, lava stone walls

Long shadows and shade deep in the garden

Looking across the garden to glorious Etna 

Pathway, old tiles

Oleander and large lotus (top right)

A passionate and engaging owner and host

And the front of house host/owner, Alfio Puglisi, is young, energetic, and thrilled to be welcoming guests and undertaking an art residency program SARP ( his brainchild). He has returned after many years in London and is passionate and informed. His feel for his town, family history and Palazzo (it has been in his family for over 370 years) is inspiring.

On the last evening Alfio showed us through the main private rooms of the palazzo. Intriguing, colourful interconnecting rooms filled with wonderful antique furniture, art and family portraits – he knew all their stories- make Palazzo Previtera even more beguiling. Yes, it has history worthy of a museum. The guests' rooms (well separated) are part of the palazzo and the private family rooms remain exactly that.

The bedroom - a quiet arrival and a suite of charming rooms

Arriving around 6pm Alfio welcomed us (I was travelling with my husband whose family originated from these lava towns of Etna) in the palazzo’s exhibition space in the well-lit cellars. All was very quiet and parking was right at the front door.

Alfio told us how the palazzo sits on a lava flow centuries old (seams of black lava are obvious) and showed us our room- the Ophra.

With a large bedroom plus a smaller one, and a big bathroom with a fabulous tub and Ortigia bath products, full-height double doors which could be opened to a shady, large courtyard and a small balcony overlooking Via Dante Alighieri, it was perfect- art, antiques, books, views and gracious comfort. (I did not get to see the other rooms or cottages).

A bottle of wine and pasta di mandorla pastries from a local pasticerria, Barone L’ Alhambra welcomed us.

I was happy.

Main bedroom of the Ophra suite

Shuttered room, sheer cotton curtains.

Looking to the perfect small balcony. The occasional low passing voices and pealing bells were lovely

Art by English artist Luke George. He was part of the first SARP, 2019. Glorious colours.

The hallway leading to the bathroom of our suite. Colour and books abound in this wonderful place.

Easy aristocractic charm

Granita for breakfast in a pergola draped with fabric looking to Mt Etna and some interesting history

And the breakfasts…the chocolate granita sprinkled with cinnamon was divine and the almond granita topped with whole almonds had a depth of good almond flavour. Both were delicious and refreshing in what was a warm September. The breads, croissants and fruit and cheese and cold meats plus good coffee were enjoyed under a raised pergola draped in part with a vibrant yellow cloth.

The charming warm manner of the staff member who served breakfast both mornings and the view across the garden to Etna made it all so good...simply memorable.

Breakfast in the pergola -a table for eating and easy chairs

Looking to Etna from the pergola across the garden

Draped fabric, breakfast pergola.

A feline at the table for a moment or two

Chocolate granita sprinkled with cinnamom, and almond topped with whole almonds.

All delicious

And Alfio stopped by the pergola to say hello and he answered my questions about Linguaglosaa with enthusiasm. I asked about a curious siren which blares out for a while...he said it rings out over the town at 8am and is repeated at 12 noon and 5pm. It was to signal to the field labourers the time of day so they were not taken advantage of by the land owners. Times past. He said watches were not owned.

Linguaglossa has not done away with this traditional siren, other Etna towns have. He mentioned Piedimonte Etneo and Randazzo.

Dining out

On the first night we ate at the intimate Michelin stella restaurant at Hotel Shalai, only minutes on foot from Palazzo Previtera. I’ve enjoyed Shalai a few times before and this time the pasta, sweets and wine were simply delicious. Worth returning. Great Sicilian wine, food and service.

And the second night... tasty food and local wine at Trattoria LinguaGrossa, Via Giuglielmo, 100. Another one I have  enjoyed over the years. Friendly and lively. It is close by to Palazzo Previtera in the piazza of the Mother Church. (Alfio also recommends local restaurants).

I will be back for a longer stay

I am thinking...a week at Palazzo Previtera in spring 2024. To stay in this wonderful old Sicilian palazzo on the slopes of Etna again. With time to discover Linguaglossa more and some of the other baroque lava towns. Along with Mt Etna and the local wines and food it would make for a perfect week on the slopes of Etna.




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