The overhead photo of Bosco Ciancio country resort is one of the most stunning and inviting anyone planning a vacation is likely to encounter: an estate built from volcanic stone, nestled in the lush green embrace of a chestnut forest. Add the views of the majestic summit of the perpetually smoking Mt. Etna, and you have the setting for the perfect leave-the-world-behind destination.
As remote as it looks, the property is less than an hour’s drive from Sicily’s busiest airport, Catania, on the island’s east coast. One needs a car both to get to the hotel and to explore the area; it helps also to have the gumption to brave the curvy and almost impossibly narrow roads.
The moment one descends the property’s cobblestone driveway and passes through the heavy iron gates, one enters another world: a courtyard with a lawn surrounded by a stone patio, an elevated swimming pool, and wings of the mansion containing entrances to six of the 10 guest rooms. The remaining rooms are inside the main house.
With the exception of four rooms that are slightly larger, in order to accommodate a possible third or fourth guest, all the double rooms are virtually the same — and extremely basic. The simple furnishings of a typical room might consist of a double bed with a foam mattress, two nightstands, one chair, a small chest of drawers, and a plain wooden wardrobe. There is no telephone, television, coffee maker/electric kettle, or private safe for valuables.
Accordingly, Bosco Cianco, with its spotty cellphone service, is an ideal place for disconnecting and getting away from it all. On the other hand, it is not as if you are unreachable, since there is free WiFi throughout the premises.
As for climate control, there is no air conditioning, but a fan is available upon request. And since the hotel closes down during the colder winter months—November through March—heating is not necessary. Naturally, there are extra blankets, should the need arise.
It goes without saying that the major draw in the area is a visit to Mount Etna. It is but a short drive through the national park from the property to the cable cars—actually, ski lift enclosed gondolas—which whisk you to the station near the volcano’s summit. There, one may continue the tour by minibus, followed by a guided walk led by a volcanologist. Not surprisingly the panoramic vistas from these heights are stunning.
More energetic nature lovers will enjoy hiking, or even horseback riding, on wooded trails. Or one may drive to other sites, such as the town of Randazzo, or even take a day trip back down to the coast and the city of Taormina, considered one of the most beautiful destinations on the island.
Regardless of activities, one will want to return to Bosco Cianco for dinner, as the food at the on-site restaurant Allora is a true gourmet experience. Owner Alberto Piro is a talented chef and budding international restaurateur, whose meals will astound and delight, even with a menu that is far from extensive.
In the mornings, one partakes of the complimentary breakfast buffet in the same pleasant al fresco area as dinner. Selection and service have been a bit restricted during the era of Covid, but one will never go hungry in the morning.
After dinner, one may enjoy a digestif either at the indoor bar, located in a spacious-yet-cozy lounge furnished with card tables a pool table, or remain outdoors with your after-dinner drink. In either event, it is likely you will strike up a conversation with friendly fellow guests hailing from throughout Europe, all relaxing together in this distinctively charming place.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of review. Photos by Buzzy Gordon and courtesy of Bosco Ciancio.