Named by the Arab invaders who settled in the 9th century “Bent el- Rhia” (the daughter of the wind), during the past decade this little place has transformed into an elite travel destination, a getaway for shy bare-footed celebrities.
Pantelleria is also called the “black pearl” known for its rugged coastline, turquoise water, deep blue sky and green countryside – but it’s much more than a rural abstract landscape… the island itself has a strong mixed culinary culture inherited from the different cultures that dominated and frequented this island throughout history.
As it was my first time in Pantelleria, I couldn’t have asked for more than to experience it through the eyes of a magical place like Sikelia: from Greek Σικελία, Sicily.
The main structure of Sikelia is of monastic decent, converted into a striking contemporary 20-suite boutique retreat – each suite is housed in old and newly-built dammusi, the traditional local architecture distinguished by high vaulted ceilings and archways upon thick masonry walls.
It is no wonder that Sikelia is member of Small Luxury Hotels of The World (SLH) a meticulously chosen collection that counts more than 500 luxury independent hotels worldwide associated by their unique style, design and exclusivity – able to give a singular and extraordinary way to experience the place where they’re located.
Sikelia like a fortress overlooks the contrada of Scauri with its monochrome palette it finds itself as an anthitesis but in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape, the pale-soft dusty colours of the materials and the severe shadows create a romantic-dramatic metaphysical scenario.
A pool engraved in local stone surrounded by palms brushed by the wind, a typical “Pantesco garden” hides an open-air spa shaded by a palm tree. No doubt this place has the touch of who knows and intensely lives this island.
Once you walk through the big golden door, the atmosphere is quiet and comforting; upon entering this secluded open-air oasis staff are welcoming, caring and knowledgeable.
But the real heart of Sikelia is owner and creator Giulia Pazienza Gelmetti: A Gutsy Roman entrepreneur that following her success with Coste Ghirlanda vineyard accepted the challenge of this luxury retreat. She conceived every suite with a different character and name; the interiors are thoughtfully designed with great care for detail and research into materials, natural colours and palpable textures. The furniture is custom-made mixed with high-end design pieces from b&b Italia and accessories by artist Gennaro Avallone.
Small works of art are also made in the kitchens – Sikelia in fact boasts a multi-cuisine restaurant, Themà by Gagini offers Sicilian recipes with African and Arabic twist, Passito a typical dessert wine from Pantelleria is suggested at the end of the meal. Sikelia is not only an avant-garde luxury retreat but a 360 experience in Pantelleria. “Either you love or you hate it”, says owner Giulia about this island. It was love at first sight for the entrepreneur that views the island as a source of inspiration and a place where she can disconnect from her busy life – she loves Pantelleria’s silence and walking barefoot underneath the starry sky-creating a unique bond with the place.
“Pantelleria isn’t just any island”.