Palazzo Previtera Launches Experiences Immersing Guests In Sicilian Culture

Newly restored Palazzo Previtera, a museum with rooms on the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, has launched a series of authentic experiences immersing guests in local culture. The experiences have been curated by Palazzo owner, Alfio Puglisi, a descendant of the family that built the house in 1649 and include traditional embroidery lessons in Etna cheese making, foraging trips to a nearby hazelnut farm and learning how to cook a Sicilian lunch in the hotels retro original 1930’s kitchen.  The hotel also holds a series of contemporary artist residencies through-out the year, with exhibitions in its own onsite contemporary gallery and a workshop nearby, where guests can meet the artists.  

Situated in the quiet town of Linguaglossa, Palazzo Previtera is the result of 10 years of restoration and has now been opened up for guests by Alfio. Home to three bedrooms within the Palazzo, one of which is a suite and can sleep up to four, and two cottages in the one-acre gardens – sleeping two and six, the palazzo is one-of-a-kind, filled with history, restored silk fabrics, ornate painted ceilings and original floor tiles, as well as contemporary art and mid-century touches. 

Embroidery: Embroiders visit Castiglione di Sicilia, a town famous for its embroidery on the northwest side of Etna, to learn basic Sicilian techniques. The art has been passed down through families, as ladies were taught by English aristocratic families that used to live in the area in the 1880s. In the past embroidery has been used to decorate old blankets and table cloths that were given as gifts before marriage. Today, Sicilian women continue this practice by teaching locals and foreigners the art of Sicilian embroidery, a therapeutic and creative skill that requires patience. All materials are included, such as a personal embroidery frame and yarns. Classes can be in English and Italian.  Basic stitching skill is required. Classes are in a local home in Castiglione di Sicilia or can be at Palazzo Previtera on request.  The workshop costs 150 euro per person (2 to 3 hours).

Etna Cheese: Join a local shepherd from Mount Etna to learn the secrets of Sicilian cheese making. On this part of the island, sheep, goats and cows roam freely on the mountain side and independent cheese producers create sustainable cheese using old farming and fermentation techniques that have been used since classical Greek times. It is possible to visit one of the independent producers to learn how to make cheese including ricotta cooked on a wood fire. Cheese tastings include: pecorino, ricotta, tuma, caciocavallo, served with bread and olive oil. Cost 80 Euro per person (3 hours). 

Bonneherbe Estate Hazelnut Farm: A hands-on family friendly trip, Bonneherbe Estate is a hazelnut farm 15 minutes from the Palazzo. Here it is possible to walk amongst centuries old oak trees and learn about the vegetation that grows on Etna by foraging for hazelnuts, fennel, asparagus and wild herbs such as Silene vulgaris. Unique to the area, the Etna Hazelnut is small and crunchy and high in Vitamin A. Picnics on the mountain slopes and horse riding can also be arranged at an extra cost. Cost 35 Euros per person (1 hour 30 minutes). 

Sicilian Home Cooking Class and Lunch: Taught in the Palazzo’s historical kitchen, which was designed by Raymond Loewy in 1935, during this hands-on experience guests will learn how to make a Sicilian lunch from scratch from choosing the right ingredients to creating the dishes and decorating the table.  The menus are made from seasonal ingredients – sample dishes include stuffed focaccia, wild asparagus omlette, mini butter milk arancini, grilled octopus with baby peas or herb cous cous with catch of the day.  Alternatively, guests can learn how to make macaroni, tagliatelle, ravioli or gnocchi and make homemade ‘sugo’ pasta sauce using tomato, celery and carrots.  Prices start from 150 Euros per person (3 hours).

Artist Residencies: Palazzo Previtera is a leading centre for contemporary art in Sicily with its own contemporary gallery, called SARP Gallery, in its spacious cellar. Together SARP and Palazzo Previtera host a popular artist residence programme, whereby international artists are invited to stay and create work inspired by Sicily. Guests can explore the exhibitions and can meet with artists at a workshop in an old hazelnut storage barn, a three-minute walk away. Activities include breakfast with the artist, art classes and family friendly art history workshops. Upcoming artists-in-residence include Leo Orta, from France in July, who works across a variety of media including sculpture, installation, painting and performance; and Chris Obehi a singer born in Nigeria and now living in Sicily in August. Those interested in learning more about the restoration and Etna’s history can take a complimentary tour of the palazzo and garden with Alfio, whose family have been involved in the production of Etna wine since the 18th century.  Nightly rates range from 150 Euros to 250 Euros per night with a breakfast including products from the palazzo’s farm and local trusted producers. Palazzo Previtera is one hour from Catania airport and five minutes from Linguaglossa train station.