Originally built to be a private villa, the influential Florio family commissioned Italian Art Nouveau architect Ernesto Basile to restore the property and turn it into a luxury hotel. Once considered the most famous retreat in Sicily, Villa Igiea has been a symbol of elegance and hospitality that has seen artists, Hollywood elite, and royalty pass through its doors.
Constructed in 1900 at the height of the Belle Époque, a period of economic prosperity dating from the end of the Franco-Prussian War to the start of World War I, the hotel is reminiscent of a magnificent castle overlooking the sea. Director of Design for Rocco Forte Hotels, Olga Polizzi, in collaboration with one of the most prominent names in the design world, Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam, will oversee the meticulous restoration to preserve its exquisite historical features while keeping with Rocco Forte’s signature design style.
The renowned Basile room, the frescoed bar and the grand mirrored ballroom will be restored to its natural beauty while the 104 rooms and suites will be designed to reflect a Sicilian oasis that is contemporary and classic.
Chef Fulvio Pierangelini, Creative Director of Food for Rocco Forte, will create menus featuring simple, local delicacies typical of an Italian seaside villa. Guests can dine in the main restaurant, a grand mirrored salon where the Florios used to entertain royals, on the romantic terrace, or at the pool for a more relaxed setting. Overlooking the garden, the frescoed vaulted bar, once an iconic meeting place for locals and travellers throughout the ages, will serve a feast of Sicilian aperitivi.
The impressive meetings and event space that has hosted lavish weddings, party conventions, meetings of ministers and Heads of State will also be carefully rejuvenated to accommodate groups and weddings of all sizes.
Set by the sea amongst the gardens will be the spa. Offering a Mediterranean journey of the senses framed by Sicilian majolica tiles, the typical colours of the Tyrrhenian Sea and comfortable furnishings, the treatments will be curated by Irene Forte using her Sicilian inspired products.
A true urban resort, Villa Igiea is easily accessible by land or sea and only a 10-minute drive to the centre of Palermo where visitors can admire the overpowering beauty of the city’s Baroque Churches, the Norman Royal Palace or simply wander through the lively street markets. Year-round sites such as Monreale, Erice and Cefalu are only minutes away by car while in the summer, a boat is available to take guests to the stunning Mondello beach.
Villa Igiea will be Rocco Forte’s seventh property in Italy and second in Sicily perfectly complementing Verdura Resort that is set along the Sicilian coast and only a 90-minute drive from Palermo.
Commenting on the opening of Villa Igiea, Sir Rocco said: “It is an honour to be able to undertake the project of restoring Villa Igiea back to its natural glory. It is an iconic hotel with the Florio family at its origin, and I am delighted that my family will now have its place in the building’s marvellous history. Our guests can discover the best of Sicily by experiencing Palermo, a wonderful city which is in a moment of extraordinary rebirth, and then travel to Verdura Resort for complete relaxation.”