Sicily is a place of myths, legends and the bloody whisper of history and conflict.
The homeland of Cosa Nostra, Italy’s organised crime families and syndicates, and setting for The Godfather films – Sicily’s past is as romantic as it is bloody.
It’s one of my favourite places in the world and it’s no accident that the largest of the Mediterranean islands has been coveted by so many outsiders and invaders throughout history – from the Moors to the Normans – with many others in between.
The modern day invader is more likely to be a beach lover, foodie or culture vultures, but surprisingly tourists are flocking to the Southern Italian isle to go on golf schools.
Yes, golf schools, organised breaks designed to lower your scores and get you playing your best.
The deluxe Sicilian resort hosted no fewer than 42 golf school from a variety of different countries in a six-week period from late February to early April this year as people flocked to enjoy the first-class facilities available.
The groups, led by golf professionals, included parties from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, Poland and a growing number of groups from the UK.
Donnafugata has been a popular destination for golf schools across mainland Europe since opening in 2010 and its influence is now spreading further afield with golfers keen to take advantage of the variety of attractive packages the resort is offering in 2013.
Mark and Sandie’s Story
Golf professional Mark Howell, who runs Mark Howell Golf Schools with his wife Sandie in Henley-upon-Thames, Berkshire, visited Donnafugata for the first time in March and they were so impressed they plan to return in 2014.
Having previously held golf schools at resorts in more traditional European golf destinations, such as Spain and Portugal, the pair were excited at the prospect of escorting two groups out to Sicily for week-long visits.
Sandie said: “This is the first year that we have taken groups to Donnafugata but, based on our recent stay, we will no doubt be visiting them again.
“We always aim to take our groups to upmarket destinations to ensure maximum enjoyment and were attracted by Donnafugata’s two championship courses and practice facilities, all of which are on site, when we booked through Your Golf Travel.
“Donnafugata is perfect for golf groups because everything is so convenient. It’s well designed to accommodate groups with a lot of space so there’s no feeling of congestion, even when the hotel is quite busy with groups.
“Most other resorts in Europe, even with great golf courses, are quite bland and functional and you have the feeling you could be anywhere. That’s not the case with Donnafugata which has the advantage of great courses and functionality, combined with Italian style and some historical interest. You definitely know you’re in Italy.
“The resort can handle large volumes of golfers and non-golfers and, because of the historical interest surrounding the resort and the other excellent hotel facilities, golfers can bring their non-golfing partners and families knowing they will enjoy it too.
“The staff were absolutely charming and very helpful and there is great potential for the resort.
New airport on Sicily
With the new airport that is just about to open at Comiso, which is situated some 20 minutes away, the sky’s the limit for Donnafugata.”
Donnafugata has enjoyed a memorable last 12 months and even better times lie ahead with the luxury Sicilian venue having already booked more than 50 per cent more business from the UK market alone for 2013 than it took in the whole of last year.
Located 90 minutes’ drive from Catania airport, the resort offers the perfect recipe for people seeking a relaxing holiday in five-star surroundings on the largest island in the Mediterranean.
Donnafugata, named ‘Best Golf Resort in Italy in 2012’ by Condé Nast Traveller magazine, boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses – the Links Course and the Gary Player-designed Parkland Course – with the latter being used to stage the 2011 Sicilian Open.
Close to UNESCO World Heritage Site
The luxurious resort lies near to the historic town of Ragusa, the cradle of Sicilian Baroque architecture, with its neighbouring towns listed among the pearls of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Modica, Scicli and Noto.
As well as two championship golf courses, Donnafugata offers a spa and wellness centre, swimming-pools and three restaurants and is the ideal destination for a holiday focused on sport and relaxation in a truly exclusive setting.
For further information, or to book a stay please call 0039 0932 914 200 or visit www.donnafugatagolfresort.com.