Susafa: A Sicilian Hideaway

A memorable and whimsical location set apart from the rest of the world by its dedication to tradition and unmatched hospitality.

With travel restrictions and lockdowns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, many of us have been limited to daydreaming about our next travel destination. The place I’ve been dreaming about is Susafa, an Italian country estate that reminds us that certain traditions will always stand the test of time.

Nestled in the heart of rural Sicily amid acres of unspoiled countryside and a sea of golden wheat, Susafa is almost too small to merit attention on even regional maps — it is a hidden gem that captures the soul of Sicily.

Located in the midst of Polizzi Generosa and Vallelunga Pratameno and managed by the fifth generation of the Saeli-Rizzuto family, at Susafa Manfredi Rizzuto has mastered the art of running a private resort, while tending to the needs of his richly green and flourishing pastoral estate.

Proudly celebrating Sicilian culture since 1870, Susafa is absolutely a product of the region and the Saeli-Rizzuto family’s authentic cultural heritage and generously shares the fruits of its labour to anyone wanting to discover its notable and incomparable richness. The retreat’s ravishing property grows its own organic orchards, olive groves, and vegetable and herb gardens, making it an oasis for food and wine lovers alike.

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Naturally, the seasonal homegrown ingredients are what make up the local Sicilian recipes served at Susafa’s restaurant, including its daily oven-fresh bread made with the olive oil of Susafa’s century-old olive groves. Another typical Sicilian recipe made by the Masseria Susafa is a caponata, made with fresh tomatoes and aubergines gathered from its organic vegetable gardens topped with its rich and unparalleled olive oil. Guests can experience the farm-to-table dining first-hand by joining harvest-themed activities or taking cooking classes for dishes, like pasta, bread and pizza, as well as sweet desserts, like cannoli and cassata cakes (all in traditional Sicilian style, of course).

If you prefer to sip a glass of wine while others do the cooking, Susafa offers bespoke experiences, such as wine-tastings, gourmet picnics, romantic private dining and tours of the surrounding Madonie villages, where guests can explore local boutiques and restaurants. In the evenings, before heading to sleep, guests have the chance to experience the magic of unobstructed stargazing away from the impediments of city lights.

After a day and night filled with richness in food and culture, guests return to a room that reflects the deep history of the estate. Always preserving Sicilian elements, Susafa thoughtfully designed its estate to intricately web together original brickwork floors, antique furnishings and timber-beamed ceilings, with contemporary artwork and modern lighting highlighting the delightful contrast between the old and the new. Susafa is the definition of rarefied boutique hospitality.

In every experience at the retreat, guests can feel, see and taste the traditions of the past. For example, the wine Susafa produces is a nostalgic palette that harkens back to the hard work of generations harvesting the fruits of their labour. The crops of the field have survived wars and periods of drought throughout the centuries, while the Saeli-Rizzuto family continued to work their land with pride, knowing one day that future generations would be able to appreciate their dedication and hard work.

Being able to indulge in the food from the farm, cook using the century-old recipes and taste the homegrown wine and olive oil are only possible due to the perseverance, passion and labour of the Saeli-Rizzuto family. Every sip of wine and bite of food breed wanderlust, authenticity and singularity.

In a world where long-standing tradition is hard to find, Susafa reminds us of the incredible beauty that five generations of a family can build, and that everything good takes time and requires lots of patience.

A lesson one can take from the Saeli-Rizzuto family retreat is: whatever fruits you can offer the world or your community, however big or small, take pride in the obstacles that come with it and persevere knowing there is hope for the future.

Until we are able to return to exploring the world and turn our daydreams into reality, we can all continue our traditions from the comfort of our homes and celebrate what many of us are yearning for right now — good food, family and tradition. In other words: the Susafa way.

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Estelle Zentil

Estelle Zentil