This year I have been lucky enough to go on a second holiday to Agrigento in Sicily. After a bit of research I booked us into Azienda Agricola Mandranova, though Mr and Mrs SmithSituated in the southern Sicilian countryside, this superb working olive grove farm is also a 13 room boutique hotel.

The Main House

The Fab Fiat 500!! 

After successfully driving our little fiat 500 hire car from Catania airport, missing on-coming Sicilian drivers on the wrong side of the road! Please note playing chicken with Sicilian drivers is not recommended however you will find you have no choice in the matter. We pulled up 2 hours later, parking the car in the shade of some olive trees and made our way up the main house. Both wearing straw hats and freckles on show, we spied three people relaxing on the bamboo chairs. One was Giuseppe, one of the duo that run Mandranova.

Introducing ourselves he walked towards us, arm out stretched "Emma, Ben!" "Ah beautiful. Beautiful!" I have never had such a wonderful welcome to a hotel in my life. It was like we were long lost members of his family! 

He then walked us across the grounds to our room. We were based in the station building, that I think has three rooms. Our room was Eritrina, which Giuseppe informed me was not biggest but his favourite room. I can't blame him, it was gorgeous! A four poster bed, a sea view from one window, the next a view of the gardens and the the main house and another looking out onto the swimming pool which was nestled inside the olive groves themselves. He left us to settle in and said that he'd let the kitchen know we'd be having lunch.


Guiseppe giving us a tour of the Olive Oil process at the farm. So entertaining! 
Sitting in the bamboo chairs after breakfast.
The walk up to the pool
Healthier breakfast before tucking into the freshly baked cakes that were served every morning!! Divine!!
Walking down for breakfast. We'd usually eat outside with the lovely Bella at our feet.
"To stay at Azienda Agricola Mandranova is to be thrust into the heart of Sicilian family life - with its emphasis on conviviality and the cucina."Harpers Bazaar

Hotel restaurants
Eating at the Mandranova restaurant is like being part of the family. Tables are situated outside and are spaced so that you are able to have private conversations yet close enough to chat with the other guests. It has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere, candle lite and to top it off delicious food. Silvia, the other half of Mandranova's duo, serves up traditional Sicilian dishes which are brought over in large dishes and you decide on the portion you take. Don't be fooled the pasta dish is not the main, it's merely one of the starters!

TIP: Do not request balsamic vinegar! You will note that there is a small bottle always available, but don't use it. As it is believed that the mandranova olive oil should be enjoyed on it's own. Balsamic vinegar in Sicily is used on strawberries and ice cream not on your salad. A bit like asking for tomato ketchup in a Michelin star restaurant. Also the one they have on offer is purposely rubbish ;)

The ingredients are plucked straight from the olive tree-filled gardens, make the evening meal a focal point of the blissful day. Here are a few photos of the food, not from the same night. 

At the beginning fresh bread and Mandranova oil served into individual dishes like a fine wine - which since trying it is! This is then followed with the four courses of the evening! A starter like Aubergine croquettes or aubergine salsa followed by a pasta dish, then the main. Which was a meat dish served with grilled vegetables or salad and then ending with desert. Such great food. 

Orange segments, pistachios, scallions and extra virgin oil - Starter
Aubergine, courgette and basil pesto pasta - 1st Course
Not sure what this was but delicious!!!

Packing tips
It's more a case of what not to pack. Travel light as you'll want to bring home as much of Mandranova's homemade orange marmalade, pistachio pesto, and as much extra virgin olive oil as possible! But bring yourself a good book and learn to relax at your new home. Plus if you can find them, get yourself a pack of Sicilian playing cards! You'll see all the old guys in town playing Scopa! They'll be the ones shouting with their arms in the air. Learn to play and you'll end up doing the same ;D

Holiday Buys I bought for the trip that I found were great included A navy blue skater dress with sweetheart neck, that was ideal for a summer evening. Then, perfect for going to the beach or pool, a towelling Beach Playsuit. 

A pair of JOLLY Slingback Espadrilles which were so comfy!

A hardwearing Vintage Sisal n Leather Tribal HandBag to carry all my paraphernalia!

Hotel bars
There's no actual bar, but guests can enjoy aperitivi or digestivi in the two living rooms or on one of the stylish mint-green plastic sofas set in the gardens. Just nip into the kitchen and you are sure to find a smiling face to sort you out with a drink and some nibbles.

Silvia & Giuseppe

I just want to end this post to say a BIG thank you to both Silvia and Giuseppe. They were such a fantastic hosts. They genuinely seemed to love having guests come and stay and Silvia's food was fantastic, good tasty home cooked italian food, just wished we'd had time to have a go cooking with her! Also do go on the olive grove tour, Giuseppe is a fantastic guide and incredibly entertaining!

I could write so much about this place and describe all the little details that truly made it feel home from home but I'd end writing the longest post in the world! So if you have any questions about my trip to Southern Sicily or staying at Mandranova, just drop me an email or leave a comment below.

There are a couple more posts to follow about a few places we visited whilst there, so watch this space!

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