Travel writer and cookbook author Ted Lee heads to Sicily to live (and shop) like the locals and spend the week cooking in Think Exquisite villa, Masseria d'Estia.
"Chris and I ended up speeding southwest from Catania airport in a rented VW Polo, over the Hyblaen Mountains, to Masseria d'Estia, a sprawling 19th-century stone farmhouse owned by a Sicilian couple based in Milan. I adored their story on The Thinking Traveller website, which we used to book our stay. For years they had looked for a second home in the area and fell in love with a ramshackle group of barns and sheds set in the fields overlooking the Strait of Sicily. They meticulously reconstructed the buildings, using stone from local quarries and adding the latest domestic comforts: radiant-heat floors, blazing-fast internet, an amazing kitchen.
When we arrived, we found a basket the owners had left for us, with dry-cured sausage made from the Nero Ibleo breed of pig by famed Ragusan salumeria Il Chiaramontano; the D.O.P olive oil Erbesso, made from the Tonda Iblea olive by Oleificio Gulinol a hunk of the local Ragusano cheese; and a note directing us to a bottle of wine in the fridge, a white blend called SP68 made by the celebrated biodynamic winemaker Arianna Occhipinti, whose winery is 20 minutes up the road in Vittoria."