Our first stop in Sicily after landing at Catania airport was Tenuta San Michele, an agriturismo near Mt Etna.
We were greeted upon arrival and though the lady who showed us to our room spoke little English, we were able to communicate well enough. Reception is near the winery production area and the rooms are in a separate building about 1/4 mile away. Our room was on the ground floor looking onto the pool and with views of the vineyard.
The room was clean, comfortable, and quite spacious. The rooms are a bit basic but have indoor seating, TVs, and terrace areas. Rooms were good value at a cost of less than 100E a night for 2 people.
There is a large terrace area with great views of Mt Etna and the Murgo vineyard. If staying there, it is worth taking a few photos from the terrace.
There is a separate building where breakfast is served and where guests can use a shared computer or access the wireless internet connection. In this building, there is a refrigerator that guests can use as well as an honour mini-bar with beer and Murgo’s own wine. A nice touch when travelling.
Breakfast is a large offering of fruit, pastries, boiled eggs, and strong coffee. It is served in a large room with huge bookcases filled with books in several languages that can be borrowed by guests during their stay.
Dinner can be had onsite near reception in a lovely dining area with good views over the vineyard. Guests need to pre-booked and dinner is a steal at 20E per person including wine. Before dinner each night, they offer a wine tasting so that guests can try the Murgo wines. There are apertifs served with products made onsite such as flavoured olive oils and olives. The basil olive oil was my favourite but I also enjoyed the lemon and chili olive oils. At 6E for 250ml, I had to bring some home. At dinner, guests are served what the dish of the day which is generally a 3-course meal; there are no menu options.
Wine offerings with dinner are Murgo’s own and a house wine is served with dinner. Guests can choose to order a bottle tried at the pre-dinner tasting or from their range after being told what has been prepared for dinner. Wine starts around 6E! which we did not know until we checked out of the site. The wine was a bit rustic and good with the food served and never would I have guessed the price was so inexpensive. The food was good each night but not what I would describe as fine dining. It is such a bonus to be able to eat onsite and stroll back to the room afterwards.
The staff here were incredibly helpful. As we speak no Italian unfortunately, they graciously spoke English to us and we used drawings and motions when needed to describe things. The owner helped us with lunch and winery reservations as we had not been able to confirm some of them before arriving. He called to make sure places were open, gave us driving and parking recommendations and offered us his maps and books to use. The restaurant staff were very attentive on the nights we were there. Being cynical, one could have thought the owner and staff members were just doing their jobs but they exerted extra effort and genuinely wanted us to have a good stay. It is becoming more and more unique to find this but the Sicilians we met were lovely people and all seemed happy to help.
There is parking onsite and staying here, one needs a car.
Murgo has a pool for guest but as we were there just before it opened, we did not use it. It would be great to stay with older children because the terraces of some of the rooms are overlooking the pool and parents could watch the children easily. If travelling without children in the middle of summer, I would suggest asking for a room on the other side to minimize noise from those using the pool.
I cannot write a review of this place without acknowledging the resident dogs. Being bitten a few times previously, I am a bit nervous around dogs until I feel they are not attack dogs. Well, in 4 days, I grew to quite like these animals. They did seem to multiply as time past – first there was one lonely dog waiting at our door when we would leave. I named him Sparky because I felt I needed to call him something other than “the white dog”. Then on an afternoon run, there became two dogs trotting along with us…and then as word got out among the dog community, there were four waiting on us as we left for dinner!! The owners did ask if they bothered us and offered to take them away but they were pretty mild-mannered so we said to let them roam.
All in all, this was a great stay. The rooms clean, the food and wine good, and the staff members lovely. When planning my next trip to Sicily, this will be a stop for us and I look forward to it!
Whilst there, take a drive to the top of Mt Etna and be sure to visit some of the surrounding wineries….plenty to do and see at a slower pace.