Detailed villa description
Inside: accommodation at Al Jafar is spread over three floors of the main castle and at the top of an independently accessed tower. The main entrance leads from a large walled courtyard into a voluminous hallway, whose elegant furnishings, original features, frescoed beamed ceiling and honey-coloured stone walls set the tone for the rest of the property. Off the hallway is a well-equipped Sicilian kitchen with pantry, a guest bathroom, and a splendid living and dining room whose high vaulted ceiling and decorative fireplace make for a grand yet intimate atmosphere. Steps lead from the hallway up to a mezzanine floor, home to a double-twin bedroom with en-suite shower room. A few more stairs take one up to the first floor proper, where there is a large comfortably furnished living area and library and a beautiful double bedroom with adjacent bathroom with tub, antique maiolica tiles and an elegant aristocratic ambience. The final flight of stairs leads up from the first floor living area up to another large living space and the largest double bedroom, complete with en-suite shower room and an antechamber with a chaise longue. The second floor opens out onto a spectacularly panoramic terrace.
Exiting the main house and heading back across the central courtyard, one comes to a tower rising above the impressive entrance gate. Inside, up a 33-step spiral staircase, is the fourth bedroom, a comfortable self-contained double (a small double bed) with en-suite shower room. This little nest is most suitable for independent teenagers or those looking to appreciate the star-gazing skylight.
Outside: Al Jafar sits amidst a peaceful, gently whispering 15-acre olive estate. On the ground floor, accessed from the living and dining area and the hallway, is a large panoramic walled courtyard, furnished for relaxing and dining amongst the towers. From here, a stone staircase leads down through the walls to an utterly private Arabic sunken garden. Once a quarry providing tuff stone for the construction of Trapani's baroque churches and palazzi, the garden now hosts an al fresco kitchen with barbecue and dining area, and an enchanting array of flowering plants, pomegranate and other fruit trees, exotic palms and a host of fragrant Mediterranean flora. At its centre sits the fabulous 18 metre-long pool with an advanced chlorine-free saline filtration system, a water feature and feature wall decorated with antique ceramic tiles. The terrace accessed from the second floor landing is probably the best spot for an aperitif, a thesis supported by the presence of dumb waiter connecting it to the kitchen below. This is also where the views are at their best, with 360-degree vistas taking in the surrounding olive groves, the Egadi Islands, the sparkling sea and ancient Erice, perched atop its eponymous mountain.
Al Jafar wouldn't be complete without its delicious farm produce, which guests are encouraged to make use of. Its 180 olive trees, some of which are hundreds of years old as is evident from the girth of their trunks and their sheer height (reaching some 10m), produce a superb extra virgin olive oil, and there are also around 40 citrus trees, including orange, mandarin, clementine, lemon, grapefruit and citron, whose zagara blossom perfumes the air at certain times of year. If that weren't enough, there are also plum, apricot, fig, mulberry, pear, quince, medlar and almond trees, free range hens for delicious eggs, and a vegetable garden where heirloom varieties of tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, artichokes, bell peppers, fava beans, peas and even chick peas are cultivated. Everything is grown without pesticides and no matter the time of year you visit, there'll always be something delicious to use in your cooking.