Tutti al mare: a beach holiday Italian style

4 July 2024
Written by
Sara Magro

Relax, play, eat, drink and repeat

Lido Villeggiatura courtesy Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea

Villa Sant’Andrea celebrated its centenary in 2019. Originally established as a summer residence by the Trewhella family, it was soon transformed into an elegant hotel with rooms and suites overlooking the sea of Mazzarò, the bay of Taormina adjacent to the Nature Reserve of Isola Bella. Over time, the villa has only increased in charm, especially since joining the Belmond collection in 2010, which has elevated it to the pinnacle of world-class hospitality. While retaining its original structure and some features, such as hand-painted tiles and antique furnishings, it is continuously updated to maintain top-notch comfort, from essential amenities like beds and domotics to sophisticated design. At Gwendoline’s Bar, dedicated to Mrs. Trewhella who loved to spend her afternoons in her sea-view salon, the new decor is inspired by the 1950s and 60s, the era of the Dolce Vita in Taormina, featuring colourful armchairs, bookshelves filled with books and art objects, reinterpreted vintage pieces, and the old fireplace adorned with black and white photos from the early 1900s. Even the cocktails draw inspiration from that magical Sicilian-British blend, such as the Madame Geneva with lemon cream, zabaione foam, gin, matcha tea, and orange juice, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s with gin, mandarin marmalade, lemon juice, fennel tincture, and marzipan triple sec.

One of the cocktails at Gwendoline’s bar
Details at Gwendoline’s bar

At Villa Sant’Andrea, the goal is not just to tell the story of the Dolce Vita and summer vacations; it’s to make guests live and breathe them. In Italy, villeggiatura means long days on the beach, under an umbrella, enjoying conversations, sunbathing, and pastimes. Some people stay on their loungers, reading a book and listening to some music, then take a dip and start over—lounger, book, music, swim. Others play cards (‘Scopa’ with Sicilian cards is one of the most popular games), paddle in the bay, solve crossword puzzles, or enjoy a picnic. Lido Villeggiatura, the new beach club, is designed for those who want to make the most of a day at the sea, from dawn, which starts with a yoga class, to sunset with cocktails and a DJ playing Italian hits from the 1950s onwards. During the day, waiters pass by the loungers offering granita or something cool to drink, romantically evoking memories of childhood beach outings. In addition to the blue-and-white striped umbrellas, reminiscent of the sea, there are six cabanas with a private concierge who arrives with fruit and champagne to start the day and is there to fulfill any request, from lunch with shrimp skewers and caponata (a Sicilian sweet-and-sour vegetable dish with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, capers, and olives) to refills of champagne and spritz. Each cabana comes equipped with a beach bag containing a straw hat, flip-flops, playing cards, and a fan, essential on hot days (but there is also a fan in the lounge area). Guests can also enjoy an aromatherapy treatment on the lounger, take a ride around the bay on a beautiful traditional boat, or play a customized Monopoly game, featuring stops at other Italian resorts in the Belmond group, such as the Caruso on the Amalfi Coast, the Cipriani in Venice, the two Splendidos in Portofino, and the Romazzino, a new addition for 2024 in Costa Smeralda.

The barefoot beach life continues into the evening, with a full schedule for the entire summer. Activities include barbecues with DJ sets, outdoor cinema under the stars screening art films (this year’s lineup includes the Oscar-winning “Call Me by Your Name” by Luca Guadagnino), beach parties, and gourmet dinners at Brizza, which features only eight tables set on the rocks and caressed by the waves.

Granitas on request

Discover Villa Sant’Andrea, a Belmond hotel

The Parasols at Lido Villeggiatura
Brizza, eight tables and a gourmet menu by the sea

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