Sicily in Bloom - Infiorata di Noto (15-17 May) with soloSicily.com

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Visit Sicily during the 'Infiorata di Noto' when the magnificent baroque city of Noto hosts a unique flower festival.

It's hard to beat the Italians when it comes to festivals - whether in terms of atmosphere, colour or simply people-watching. Visit Sicily during the 'Infiorata di Noto' (15-17 May) when the magnificent baroque city of Noto hosts a unique flower festival.

During the popular festival, the Nicolaci street is transformed into a flowered carpet comprising petal filled mosaic-style pictures. On the day before the festival, artists work along the palace-lined street with a special organic soil to outline the scenes which are then filled in with specially prepared flower petals and seeds, creating a similar effect to a stained glass window.

Stay in soloSicily's Villa Matal, nestling in the hills that overlook Noto. Once the summer residence of the Prince of Villadorata (who owned Noto's famous Nicolaci Villadorata Palace), the villa dates back to the mid-1800's. With vine-draped walls and a stunning pool, the 5-bedroomed villa (sleeps 12) also has an outdoor kitchen with barbecue and pizza oven. One week in May costs €5800 inclusive of daily cleaning.

Other superb baroque towns in the Valley of Noto include Ragusa, Modica and Scicli. Noto is just a short drive to the Vendicari Nature Reserve which has some of the most secluded beaches in Sicily.

Sicily villa specialist, soloSicily, is offering savings of up to €200 on one-week bookings made before 31 March 2009;

Sample properties include:

Il Gattopardo: Just a short drive from the charming town and beaches of Taormina, Il Gattopardo is a 19th century old manor house with stunning lavender and hibiscus-filled gardens that are surrounded by a lemon plantation and private vineyard. A private pool is overlooked by a vine-draped gazebo and the interior of the house filled with antique furnishings, with the master bedroom accessed via an antique spiral staircase.

Parmina: The latest addition to soloSicily's portfolio, Parmina is in a superb location, just a 10-minute walk from the shops and restaurants in Taormina's lively town centre. Get the best of all worlds with views across the Ionian Sea from the poolside during the day and then wandering into town in the evening for the obligatory 'passeggiata' and ice-cream. A one-week stay in May has been reduced by €150 to €4350 (sleeps 10, accommodation only) with http://www.soloSicily.com or tel. 020 7193 0158.

soloSicily features apartment, villa and boutique hotel accommodation throughout the island. Properties sleep from two to 38, including several magnificently-restored villas on vast aristocratic-owned estates. Additional services featured include maid service, catering, cookery classes, wine-tastings, local excursions and guided mountain bike tours. Further information on soloSicily available from http://www.soloSicily.com or tel. 0044 (0)20 7193 0158.

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Gioacchino Sortino


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